Hancock's receipt showing pattern savings

6 Ways to Sew Affordably

Hancock's receipt showing pattern sale savings

Hancock’s receipts showing pattern sale savings

A question I get often is “Why bother sewing when fabric/patterns is/are so expensive?” or “Clothing is so cheap now so why would I bother taking the time to make something if I can just go buy it?” The pressure to answer this question convincingly is strong; I’m about to attempt to sell the positives of sewing over the ease of going to the mall. Or the simple click of the mouse gets items shipped right to the door. There is a valid argument here, but I try to share the affordable strategy first before getting into all of the other reasons I sew. (More on that in other posts).

I should have a standard answer by now, but I don’t. I consider myself to be very thrifty with my sewing hobby so keeping the cost down is just natural for me. That got me thinking about sharing some of the ways I keep the cost down. There are so many reasons I sew that I’m not always sure which answer to give first. So here are my ideas:

1.) Either borrow or purchase and inexpensive sewing machine for starters if you are unsure about the longevity of this hobby. Be aware, though, that you often get what you pay for in machines (not always) and frustration with a machine is the fastest way to kill enthusiasm. Have a mentor or some support nearby to help troubleshoot mechanical problems. Upgrade and invest in a better machine after you’re hooked.

2.) Sign up for weekly mailers or online alerts for sales. I know what you may be thinking…more email alerts?! Uuhgg! But social media is the way of the future and it is the most affordable way they can keep in touch with me. Some stores offer phone aps that can be downloaded and can be scanned at checkout for the current discount. Facebook is also a tool used by stores to keep you notified.

Of course the stores hope I will buy more than the sale items, and sometimes I do, but the plan is to be very focused on just what I need for the upcoming projects. For example, zippers, thread, etc. Rarely is there only one item on sale I need, so I stay on track by bringing a list.

3.) Utilize store coupons and competitors coupons when possible Check to see if major big box craft and fabric stores in your area will acknowledge each others’ coupons for discounts. There will be exceptions, but for like items, these stores are ready to make you happy for shopping in their stores. I have found Michael’s, Jo Ann’s and Hancock’s very good about this policy.

4.) For online shopping use the discount coupon code at check out. I use the coupon code printed below the paper coupon in my mailer. Sometimes there are in-store and online incentives, so be sure to read the fine print. The online discounts can often help offset the cost of shipping.

5.) Avoid paying full price for patterns. I use the flyers and sale alerts to purchase when patterns are at their lowest prices. The people who ask me about the outrageous cost of patterns today are not aware of the monthly specials on what is referred to as the “Big 4” patterns companies. Keep and eye out for the new styles online and then plan a trip to the fabric store to pick up your favorites on sale day. If I can get a few items sewn up from one pattern, even better.

*Independent patterns are the exception. I am a strong supporter of these hard working designers! The cost of production is higher for them so they must charge more. These pattern designers work harder for your money by giving more thought into the instructions, techniques, drafting and fit. Just a little perusing on some sewing blogs will show you that ‘independents’ are often more pleasing than the “Big Four” pattern companies, so support them if you can. The savings on the other patterns makes it easier to justify giving these patterns a try.

6.) Support mill end, thrift, remnant tables and other discount stores selling fabric, if possible.. In mill end stores, if you can look past the messiness and dig for treasures, this is a sure fire way to keep your fabric costs low. When manufacturers are done with their fabric for mass production, the leftovers are purchased by a mill end store at a discount and then resold at a low price. And it’s a win-win. The store makes a profit off of what might have ended up in a landfill and great deals can be had. Be aware that the fabric content can be a mystery and there may be a minimum fabric requirement left on a large piece, (for example, 2 yards must be remaining) so be prepared to buy more than planned or simply put the piece back. This can often work well to allow for shrinkage since there won’t be content descriptions or washing instruction for the fabric.

Some thrift stores offer plenty of donated fabric for sale or in the way of donated clothes that can be refashioned into something better suited to your taste.

Remnants are often drastically discounted to get it out of the store in order to make room for new shipments.

So there you have it. My main strategies to feel better about spending less money and creating quality clothing that fits my body in the colors, fabrics and styles that suit me.

What is your low-cost strategy to keep your clothing budget in check?

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