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?

fabric for $1.00 a yard. How can you go wrong?

 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,

Happy Stitching

Sue

The Economical Embroiderer

Presentation is everything!

I am probably an “extra” type of person – I like to do things a bit differently, and usually outside the box. When I do something, I like to do it all the way – including extras that make a big difference and is the final touch for your presentation. Why give an embroidered gift when you can give an embroidered gift with a matching card – and get a lot of WOWs!!

I call this idea, “OML Crafty Extras” – a few extra things you can do to really spiff up your gift presentation. I use my cutter to make these crafty extras. I know not everyone is interested in using the cutters, but more and more people have them for pre-cutting fabric for their applique designs – so why not take it a bit further and create something for your embroidery?

For this crafty extra, I used a piece of plain cardstock, a glitter gel pen and my Cricut Maker! That’s it! It really took 5 minutes to put together and a few more to draw and cut it out. The key to this embroidery gift project is that the design in the card matches the embroidery design. Talk about classy!

The first thing you need to do is open up your embroidery design in your embroidery software. For this project, I used Wilcom E4, my top software. I brought in the embroidery design – a monogram from Shuler Studio that’s gorgeous – and I made a few changes. I didn’t worry about the size, but I did change the motif stitches on one of the letters for a better drawing result. I made the motif stitches simple and clear so that they would draw better.

The next thing you need to do – and you can do it in most embroidery software is to save the embroidery design as an image. In Wilcom E4 you can export the embroidery design in quite a few ways – but exporting the bitmap into a PNG seemed to pick up the detail.

PRO TIP: if you don’t have embroidery software that will allow you to export images of the embroidery, you can always take a screenshot on your computer with free software that comes with Windows 10.

Open up your cutter software and import the image to trace. Depending on your cutter software, there are many ways to do this. In Cricut design space, you import the image, tell Cricut what type of image it is (this one is simple and clean) and then you can make adjustments and save it as a drawing file. bring that into your software mat, and you are good to go! Change the cut to draw, making it the size that you want. You can hop on to the Cricut site to grab a simple card to put around the design – you can change colors and add more designs or a special lettering message if you wish – just to make it even more unique, and then load and send it to your Cricut maker. Draw, score and cut your card out!

That’s pretty much all that you do! Once you do it a few times, it will get faster and easier to set up. Plus, you can be more and more creative with this extra project. Pick paper that matches your design or gift, pick different pen colors and different card shapes. No one says that a card has to be square, right?

Make yourself stand out from the crowd and do a little extra for your machine embroidery – you will love the reactions to being just a little extra crafty!!