EMBROIDERY ON A BUDGET: 5 Ways to Save Money on Fabric
The Economical Embroiderer
The continuing series, Embroidery on a Budget by the Economical Embroiderer! This week’s topic is FABRIC. You can’t embroider without fabric (other than FSL, of course) and actually finding cheap fabric is not always easy.
First, I would like to point out that there is a difference between CHEAP fabric and INEXPENSIVE fabric. Cheap fabric is also inexpensive, but the lack of “quality ingredients” can make the cheap fabric a nightmare to work with. The inexpensive fabric is the way to go – the better quality fabric that is on sale or you can find it free or really super cheap. That is where the money is well spent – and if you don’t put the quality fabric into your work, it will show in the end, and your final product will undoubtedly be lesser quality too. So how do you get high-quality fabric and save money?
LOOK FOR SALES: OK, this one is pretty easy. If you are in a fabric store and there is a sale, make sure you check it out. I don’t pay full price for any fabric at a fabric store – eventually, it all goes on sale. For example, after Christmas or even in the summer you can find Christmas prints on sale – and sometimes really great sales in the offseason. Buy as much as you need or want, and then store it for the season – and you will have a great selection of less expensive fabrics for your Christmas stitching.
REMNANTS ARE COOL: Yep! always make sure you check out the remnants – you never know what you are going to find! And the price of the fabric is usually pretty amazing, and you can end up paying less than 1/2 of the original costs! Remnants are much cheaper than fat quarters, so you can select a whole bunch of different prints and save tons of cash! If you need the fabric for making appliques, fabric remnants cut into odd shapes and less than 1/2 a yard can save you a bunch. You don’t need to have neatly cut fabric to do appliques, so don’t pay for it. Remnants can sometimes be found in a big bin or rolled up nicely in a bin with prices on it. I check my local store every time I go there. I once found 1 yard of fancy expensive sparkly organza for much less than the regular price – and 1 yard goes a long way. It was gorgeous material that I used to embellish so many Halloween projects. Check it out, you never know what you are going to find.
THE END OF THE ROLL: Know the policies of some fabric stores – there are a few that have some “quiet” rules that you only hear about if it comes up – for example finishing the roll of fabric! There are two stores around here that will offer you an extra 15% off your fabric if you finish the roll of fabric! You can take that into consideration when you are looking at the fabric to purchase. If you need a lot of one fabric, make sure you pick a smaller roll if possible, so you have a chance at finishing the roll and getting that discount. A 15% discount on a large amount of fabric will go a long way in the end and you can save a ton of money!
JOIN THE CLUB AT YOUR STORE: If your local fabric store has some kind of a club, be sure to check it out. We have one store that has a club, and it works out incredibly good for the cost bottom line of all our purchases for the year. For this particular store, they charge a small yearly fee of $20 to join the fabric club. Once you have joined the club they have regular discounts for club members on any fabric purchase, but they also have special days or weekends where club members can get extra savings on the regular or sale prices. If you combine a sale price plus the members discount, you can save a ton of money! We sometimes buy fabric in bulk, so usually our first purchase after paying the club fee is saved with that cool member percentage saving, so it is all savings after that – make sure you take that into consideration when you are checking out the club – you will probably save more on your purchases than you spent on the club membership. Also, it is great to get a nice discount off of everything that you purchase! Never pay full price for fabric!
THRIFT STORES: Now don’t stop reading here or discount this idea, because you will be very surprised!! I was SO HAPPY when I went to my local thrift store to check it out. THEY HAD A WHOLE SECTION FOR FABRIC. People had extra fabric and were not going to use it, so it ended up donated. And this was a gold mine. I spent time looking at what they had, and I was amazed. I saw tons of pretty organza, pretty prints, very expensive embellished fabric, upholstery fabric, outdoor fabric and yes, some butt-ugly horrible fabric from ancient times, too. But there was more than I ever imagined, and I had so much fun checking out all of my options. The best part? THE PRICE!! I purchased about 4 yards of beautiful silky and embellished flower fabric for a mere $3.99!! You can’t complain about that price, and it is enough for a full project, too. It is not a scrap of material, 4 yards is quite a bit of material and the price makes it LESS THAN $1.00 A YARD. Tell me where you can purchase fabric for $1.00 a yard?
PRO TIP: Because the material is so inexpensive, get yourself going a little fabric stash for test stitching! If you are test-stitching a design that you are going to put on a fleece jacket or shirt, you should be test-stitching it on the same type of material. Save yourself a ton of money and use thrift store fabric for this purpose. You should always be test-stitching your designs, so you might as well save the money on the fabric!
PRO TIP 2: Pretty fabric like above can be used for test stitching, but can also be used for propping your pictures! This fabric has lots of shine, interest and beautiful colors, it would be great to show off embroidery as the background for the photo, or as a prop addition (picture the fabric draped beautifully off of a work table with matching thread spools beside it. Your product photos just have to LOOK expensive and elegant, but they don’t have to be! If you were to carefully line a cardboard box with this fabric, you would have a stunning photo box for cheap!
I can think of many other ideas for this or any other kind of fabric that is priced at $1.00 a yard! You can experiment, use it for projects, create backdrops and make pretty pictures, you can use it for test stitching and even making pillows! Comment below how you would use this fabric!
Until next time,
The Economical Embroiderer
5 Comments on “EMBROIDERY ON A BUDGET: 5 Ways to Save Money on Fabric”
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Some walmarts have clearance bins also I got some good deals this weekend
Unfortunately, our local Wal-Mart in Puyallup, WA let their fabric department do down to almost nothing there to select from, ever since March. I don’t think they sold it all, think they removed most of the stock, including all the other sewing accessories.
It’s a great idea to use other fabric samples before you use your permanent fabric, especially at the cost of fabric. Using some from your local thrift store or garage sale is better AA long as it’s the same texture your going for. If it works out, then give this sample to a different person or like Don and sue said store a sample in a box.
Thank you for all the tips. You are so generous sharing you knowledge with us.
clever Sue! I love your title–the Economical Embroiderer. I have sewn and embroidered for over 45 years and you made some really good points. I agree there is a really big difference between looking at cheap vs inexpensive. I’ve learned my lesson from buying cheap fabric. And having to be so budget conscious all my life; I do not waste any material. Since my husband and I like antiquing; I will start looking better for material or old scarves, etc. I never really thought about thrift stores for good finds. Thanks Sue and Don for all you both do.