Sewing on a limited budget: 7 useful tips!

When I started the SewCanShe website over 10 years ago, I sewed from a corner of our family room and everything I purchased came from our family budget – cutting costs was extremely important! I was forced to find creative ways to stick to a budget, which was sometimes fun and sometimes frustrating.

Here are my top tips for sewing up a storm – while keeping it on a reasonable budget! Photo credit: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock.

Tip 1: Check discarded items for fabrics or usable items before they are tossed in the trash or goodwill bag.

Photo credit: SewCanShe.

This cute hat was sewn from recycled sweater fabrics. I particularly like recycling handbag handles or pretty canvases that I can cut up and transform into clever little things. Our grandmothers were really good at this!

Tip 2: Slowly build up a stockpile of basic supplies that you know you will use.

Photo credit: SewCanShe.

Depending on what you like to sew, basic supplies are expensive if you have to go to the store, so it costs less in the long run to stock up.

Stocking up on items like zippers, thread, and elastic (or batting for quilters) that can be purchased online saves me a lot of money. And if you have to shop at a department store (like Joanns, Michaels, or Hobby Lobby) for something…be sure to check online coupons before you go!

Tip #3: Buy second-hand.

Photo credit: SewCanShe.

Some of my best sewing deals come from thrift stores or online marketplaces.

You KNOW I always browse the fabric section when I'm at the thrift store. I can't count the number of times I've found expensive commercial grade fabrics for pennies a yard. This doesn’t mean I buy fabric every time I go to the thrift store. But when I find treasure, I don't let it just sit there!

Tip 4: Take a friend if you're unsure about a larger purchase.

Photo credit: SewCanShe.

My husband buys used lawn care equipment, which I would never do – I have no idea what a good leaf blower is and what isn't!

But at the beginning of my passion for sewing, I had to buy all my sewing machines second-hand and now I have a lot of experience. So if you're interested in a used (or new) machine and don't feel confident enough to evaluate it on your own, ask a friend. I bet she (or him) would appreciate that!

Tip 5: Organize your sewing equipment regularly so you don't forget what you have.

Photo credit: SewCanShe.

This sounds basic – but it’s so true! I hate coming home from the store and finding that I already had exactly what I needed.

I often find that simply cleaning out and organizing my sewing stash inspires me to use what already exists. Here's a video I made on how I organize my fabric.

Tip 6: Reuse your WIP!

Photo credit: SewCanShe.

The sewing acronym WIP stands for “work in progress”. I know you have them – that pile of unfinished projects that taunts you, even if you try to ignore it.

So I have a rule that if a WIP is more than a year old, it's fair to turn it into something else. Quilt blocks became pillows, zipper pouches, and potholders. The clothes turned out different from the intended pattern – but at least they became something usable.

Tip 7: Share with a friend!

Photo credit: SewCanShe.

I have a seamstress friend who lives a few miles from me and we both share a love for particular notions and fabrics. This allows us to save a lot of money by loaning books and magazines, swapping fat quarters, or using each other's specialty machines for embroidery or coverstitch!

Disclosure: Some of my posts contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of these links, I may receive a small commission, so please support SewCanShe when you shop! All opinions are my own and I only suggest products that I actually use. 🙂

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