Where To Buy Cheap Fabric
People sew for a lot of reasons. Forty to fifty years ago, it was lucrative for an American parent to sew clothing for themselves or their children because supplies were cheaper than the finished product.
That’s not true today, when a $10 pattern plus a $10 yard of fabric can create a blouse or shirt that can be bought for $15 or less on a sales rack.
So what’s a person to do when they want to sew custom clothing or home accessories, but also need to stick to a budget? It’s simple: you’ve got to shop around to find cheap or discounted fabrics.
1. Habitat for Humanity Re-Store
I’ve seen some great pieces of decorator/upholstery fabric at my local Re-Store. Look for home fabrics here among donated yardage of leather, suede, and outdoor fabrics. You can pick up leather pieces for $2 a pound, or $1 per foot from rolled stock. This is a great way to pick up fabrics for re-upholstery or home accent sewing.
I’ve seen a shift in Walmart from bolt yardage to fat quarters. That’s not a problem for simple sewing projects, like cloth face masks, headbands, or quilts, but can be challenging for apparel. In my local Walmart, some bolt fabric that is available may be misleading for a new sewing enthusiast.
While it looks like a cotton fabric in a traditional print like gingham or a floral print appropriate for quilting, it is really a nonwoven fabric that may not be as sturdy as a traditional cotton check or print.
3. Joann Fabrics
Watch for sales and coupons. The good thing about Joann Fabrics is that you can shop online or in person. I personally find their website fabric shopping a little on the frustrating side. Every time I find an affordable print that I like, I find that it is not available for store pickup, or worse – that it is sold out online. Despite that, Joann has nice fabrics worth checking into, especially if you can catch a good sale.
4. Thrift Stores
Depending on the finished product you plan to sew, you might be able to find suitable fabric at a local thrift store. Definitely think outside the box on this, however. If your thrift store does not have a fabric section, take a look at the table cloths and drapery selections.
Both offer a good deal of fabric that you can use for a variety of sewing project, especially home décor sewing. Also, check out vintage clothing for lace or buttons that you can repurpose into your sewing projects.
5. Yard Sales
Yard sales, garage sales, tag sales…whatever you call them, these sales are another good place to search for fabric. Again, thinking outside the box and considering table cloths and curtains can offer good options. Even vinyl felt-backed table cloths can be used to stitch outdoor chair cushions, placemats for your outdoor dining, or pillows for bench seating.
Super Buzzy is one of my favorite online fabric stores. The prints are so unique! I’ve used them for a kitchen valence and too many headbands to count. I always start on the sale page, where you can choose between a number of percent-off sales. (Hint: start with Clearance!)
Yes, you can buy fabric on eBay! It’s a great place to find vintage fabrics. One of my favorites to search is 1930s reproduction prints. The key to successful fabric buying on eBay is to read the seller reviews and read the full description of the item to make sure you know what you’re getting.
The only time I’ve been disappointed with an eBay fabric purchase was when I did not read the details of the description. I thought I was buying several pieces of yardage, but only got one. Despite my mistake, I still got a good deal.
7. Bedding Departments
Look for large sheet sets to use for your sewing projects. Sheets go on sale each January for annual white sales. One of my favorite home sewing projects was making coordinating pillow shams from a Ralph Lauren twin size sheet that I snagged on sale at Dillard’s one January.
My daughter loved her sheet set so much that she asked for a matching nightgown for her stuffed animal. I was able to incorporate the Ralph Lauren logo from the sheets to create a designer look.
8. Hobby Lobby
Hobby Lobby is one of my favorite places to find farmhouse style fabrics, simply because there is a store just 30 miles from me. Their red calico ticking and red toweling striped muslin are reasonably priced and generally in stock. A cheap fabric is no good if it isn’t in stock! Keep a watch for their weekly ads, which often include a coupon for fabric discounts.
9. Local Quilting Stores
If you are lucky enough to have a quilting store nearby, you should always check there for markdowns or remnants. If you are a quilter, ask if they host a quilting group. It’s a great way to get involved in a stash swap, a fabric exchange. As a plus, you’ll get to know other quilters or crafters in your area.
10. Social Media
Join a Facebook “swap-n-shop” group and offer some of your fabric pieces for exchange. You may just find that other crafters are looking for cheap fabric options, too.
Tips For Buying Cheap or Discounted Fabrics
If you’re like me, you don’t want to sacrifice quality…you just want to save money on your fabrics. When possible, especially when shopping discounted fabric in stores, thrift stores, and yard sales, take a minute to inspect your fabrics. Hold the fabric up to a natural light. Is the fabric weave consistent or is it worn in places? Give it a light tug lengthwise then widthwise. Do the threads pull out of shape or break? In either case, the fabric – no matter how cheap it is – isn’t worth buying. Problems with weave consistency or broken threads are both a sign that your fabric is no longer of good quality.