Sewing On The Cheap

Posted in: This and That — By on February 26, 2012 8:41 AM

Sewing can be a great way to save money — for example, doing clothing repairs and alterations, stitching up homemade gifts or custom home decor. That said, it can also be an expensive habit! With so many cool designer fabrics, nifty gadgets and fancy machines out there, your sewing hobby can really break the bank!

Here are some money-saving tips to help you become a more frugal sewer:

Sewing Books & Classes

  • Sewing lessons, workshops and books are swell, but they sure cost a lot! For any sewing technique or project under the sun, there are free online resources to help you. Google away!  YouTube and Craftster are great places to start. Of course, for more advanced techniques like pattern drafting, tailoring or utilizing the features of a fancy machine, it makes a lot of sense to take a lesson.
  • See if you can get a personal sewing lesson from a friend or relative that sews.
  • Browse the selection of sewing books at the public library. Save your pennies to buy the books that come with patterns (these will usually be ripped out of the library copy) and borrow the rest.

Sewing Machines

  • Don’t throw away your money on a fancy machine that you may not need.  You can do a lot with a very basic machine!  (Check out our post on finding the right machine for your needs!)
  • Find out if there’s a sewing shop in your city/town that rents sergers by the hour — way cheaper than shelling out for one of your own if you don’t need to serge often.
  • Keep an eye out for sewing machines in your local thrift stores — they will cost much much less than a brand new machine, and are likely nice sturdy machines that will last you for a long time. (See our guide to buying a second-hand machine!)


  • Ever buy new fabric only to remember later that you already have some at the bottom of your fabric heap? Keep your fabrics organized so you can easily take stock of what fabric you have.
  • Thrift stores are a gold mine for fabrics! (Check out our second-hand fabric tips.)
  • Swap unwanted fabric with your crafty friends… or if you’re more ambitious, organize a fabric swap in your community!
  • Only buy fabric if you know that you’ll use it for a specific project (within reason, of course… we all need a little fabric stash!)
  • Always make a muslin. You can make your adjustments/mistakes while using cheap-o fabric rather than wasting your nice stuff.
  • Designer fabrics are expensive!  Use them sparingly to create the most visual impact for the least amount of money.
  • Save your remnants to use again for patchwork or smaller projects.
Sewing Supplies
  • Buy thread in bulk! With a simple holder that you can probably make yourself, you can use big cones of thread with your sewing machine.
  • Share your gadgets with your friends (just make sure your name is on them!).  Really, when is the last time you used a clapper or a french curve? Pool your sewing tools and you won’t have to buy everything you want to use.
  • Again, keep your supplies organized so you don’t need to re-buy things because you can’t find them.


A final note: Just because it may be cheaper to buy something pre-made than to sew it yourself doesn’t mean that you’re wasting money. The customization, new skills and fun you get from something you sew yourself adds a ton of value that you can’t buy! Sewing isn’t always cheap, but sometimes that’s okay.


Any money-saving ideas to share with us?  Post your tips in the comments!!

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