If you have ever stepped into a fabric store, you know that fabric isn’t cheap. In fact, it can be quite expensive! Considering all the great ways to get clothes inexpensively (or even free), buying fabric and taking time to sew clothes for your family hardly seems like a frugal option.
Unless you can get fabric for free or super cheap.
I don’t mean just a good sale or low quality material at discount prices. I’m not talking about fabric samples. I’m not even going to mention the 40% off coupons at JoAnn’s or Black Friday deals at Hancock.
I want fabric cheaper than that.
Think outside the bolt with me here
Let’s look at some great options for frugal fabric!
Bedding -sheets, duvet covers, pillow cases
I have successfully used all of these bedding items to sew for my family. Sheets are often a great time-saver because they have finished edges! If you plan things right, you won’t have to hem or finish edges yourself! Sheets are also wonderful because they come wider than most fabric you can buy on the bolt. They make great backings for quilts.
If I find a cute pillowcase for a quarter at a year sale, you better believe I’m getting it! You can make an entire dress or nightgown (or blouse for an older girl) from one pillow case! If you haven’t ever done sewing with repurposed fabric, a pillowcase dress or nightgown is a great place to start!
Tablecloths are often discarded when they get a stain or two, but they are large enough that patterns can often easily but cut around the stains. You can find a variety of colors, patterns, and fabrics of tablecloths that can be repurposed.
I had a nearly new table rectangular tablecloth that didn’t quite fit my oval table. Plus, my toddler was constantly pulling on the edge any tablecloth we used, which was always bad news. It was a fun flowery pattern, so I turned it into an Easter dress for my daughter and necktie for my son.
If Maria can clothe seven VonTrapp children and herself from the curtains, then so (or sew) can we! As with sheets, you may be able to take advantage of the curtain’s finished edges.
My friend made herself a skirt from a Christmas tree skirt. Turn an old leather purse into baby shoes. Adult t-shirts can be turned into leggings or dresses for kids. A women’s skirt can be transformed into a girl’s dress. The possibilities are endless really.
What if I don’t have any bedding, tablecloths or curtains that I want to cut up?
Ask your network
Send out emails to family members or people in your church congregation. Ask your friends on facebook or twitter. Let people know that you’re looking for fabric or linens they don’t need.
Join your local freecycle if you aren’t already a member and send out a request for any unwanted fabric, tablecloths, bedding, curtains, etc.
Hop on your local craigslist.org and post an ad in the arts+crafts, free and wanted sections. Describe what you’re looking for and what you want to pay (or not pay). As always, be safe and ignore scammers.
On half price day, check out their fabric remnants. My local thrift store often has linens half off. When they do, I always take a peek at the sheets and pillow cases. I have found some real treasures, often exactly what I am looking for.
Garage sales are always hit or miss, but it never hurts to ask if they have any fabric or sheets that they would like to get rid of.
Spread the word
Let people know you sew! When word gets out that you like to sew and are always looking for fabric, you will have friends of friends calling you up to come pick up the fabric they just inherited from their great aunt.
Find a nice place to store your newly found fabric stash. Plastic under-the-bed tubs work great. Just don’t forget to use it! See how long you can go without going to the fabric store! Get creative and use the fabric you have instead of buying any.