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

Do this if you want a faster embroidery computer!!

The Economical Embroiderer here, bringing you important computer information:  clean up your computer desktop and keep your embroidery designs organized!

OK, that may not seem like a big deal, but eventually, it may be.  I am making it a part of the Economical Embroiderer series because eventually having tons of embroidery designs on your computer will take up too much space and everything will slow down.  If you take the time now to organize your designs and keep up with it every time you download a new set of designs, it will take up less room, and your computer will be faster for longer.  True story!

DON’T HAVE EMBROIDERY DESIGNS ON YOUR DESKTOP.  Yep, people don’t realize this, but the more you have on your desktop, the longer it takes your computer to boot up and get ready to work.  Keep your desktop clean!  On all 4 of my computers, I have only 4 folders on my desktop – and my computer functions very well.  All of the icons for the programs that you use are simply shortcuts – get rid of them they are just clutter.  All you need to do is RIGHT-CLICK on your programs, and select “pin to taskbar” and they will appear at the very bottom of your screen, for easy access.  Then all you have to do is take the icon and drop it in the recycle bin.  Do that with all of your programs and clean up your desktop.

FILES ON YOUR DESKTOP NEED TO BE CLEANED UP TOO.   As I said above, keep your desktop nice and tidy.  If you have a ton of embroidery designs, you need to organize them on your desktop, or better yet, take them right off of your desktop!  If you must have them on the desktop, then organize them by putting them in folders.  You can create a folder easily.  All you have to do is RIGHT-CLICK anywhere on the desktop and a list will pop up (similar to the image above) and you can navigate down to NEW FOLDER and name it!  That’s it!  Then all you have to do is drag and drop (left click and hold) all of your designs into that folder.  Double click on the folder and it will open up to show you all of the embroidery designs that you have put in there!  Now your desktop should look a bit better – some folders, a file here or there, but you should be able to see the background now!  If you can’t see your background picture, keep organizing!

ORGANIZE THE REST OF YOUR EMBROIDERY FILES:  At this point, it may be a huge job to get organized BUT if you can find the exact embroidery design that you are looking for in a short amount of time, then it is worth it – time is money, and saving time before embroidery leaves you more time for embroidery, right?  Well, that is how I see it – I don’t really want to waste time finding stuff when I can use that time to create and stitch.

People ask what is the best way to organize all of your files.  By digitizer?  by design name?  by design subject?  My answer is YES.  Each of those or even a combination of those ideas will work just fine.  It really depends on what you like.   If you would like to know how I do it, hold on because it is a big job. I have been creating embroidery designs for around 15 years, and I have a big BIG list of embroidery files on my computer.  The list is so big that I have around 8TB of storage space on my computer.  No, I don’t use nearly all of that, but I can if I need to.  I think probably if I wasn’t so organized, that hard drive would be filling up faster.  Here is how I keep organized.

I keep work files separate from “fun” embroidery files.  That is the first “branch” of my folder organization.  WORK is one, and Embroidery is the second one, and everything is organized into those two big files.  If I am working, I am only using the work folder.  Yes, there are many subfolders, etc, but I don’t have to see any embroidery files that are not work-related, so that saves me time.

Let’s look into my Embroidery organization methods.  This file folder contains my non-work related digitizing files as well as files from other digitizers.  I have some files that are organized into general categories that are easy to find.  For example Dogs, Cats, Christmas, Halloween etc.  That way if I am looking for some Halloween designs, I am going to have a whole folder full of them.  I also have a few digitizers with separate folders.  I do that for a few reasons – time-saving would be the main one.  When I am downloading designs from Kreative Kiwi, it is easier and faster to put them in one folder directory.  I also want to know exactly where Kreative Kiwi’s designs are because I know they will all stitch perfectly, so I don’t have to worry about any of those designs – I have confidence and I just pick what I want and send it directly to my machine.   I do have some other digitizer’s work from big companies, and I like to put them in separate folders so I know where they came from.

If I am starting a big project or planning a big project, I like to make a folder specifically for that project so I can keep everything in one place.  All the designs that I am thinking about using, I COPY them into that folder.  If I don’t end up doing the project, I can simply delete the entire folder, and I am only deleting copies of files – the original files are still organized on my computer.  It’s a simple way to keep organized and keep the right designs exactly where you need them.

KEEPING DUPLICATES OF THE SAME FILES:   When you are downloading embroidery files, you quite often get ALL versions of that file:  PES, DST, JEF, and XXX (singer, if you didn’t know).  While it may not seem like a lot of extra files, if you are downloading files that are separated into sizes too, you may have a few extra hundred files that you really don’t need.    After a while, that can quickly pile up and take up a lot of space on your computer.  The solution is pretty easy and fast and if you do this EVERY TIME you download files, it will simply become a habit.  All you have to do is delete the files that you don’t want!  Personally, I only keep the EMB files (of course) and PES files, because I only have Brother Machines.  You may want to keep the DST files, as that is the commercial version and you can use it on most machines.  But cutting out a few hundred files on each design will end up saving you space on your computer.

Computer housekeeping is important and will help you get stitching faster – and a faster computer, too.

COMMENT on how many files/folders you have on your desktop and how many embroidery designs you have on your computer.

Here are my answers:  4 folders and no files on my desktop and….more than 400,000 embroidery files. Can you beat that???

Until next time,

Keep organized!

The Economical Embroiderer

SueB

EMBROIDERY ON A BUDGET: 5 ways to save money on fabric

EMBROIDERY ON A BUDGET: 5 Ways to save Money on Fabric
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? How can you go wrong?

blog emb on a budget fabric

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