Buying Fabric... Without Spending a Fortune!

by Amy Draughon

Sewing your own clothes is a fun and rewarding pastime!

However, it is not always the best way to save a little money. In fact, buying some fabrics for your handmade dresses can leave you spending more money on an outfit that took days of work to create, than you would have spent after 2 hours in the mall!

So how can you make sewing a practical skill instead of a money-grubbing hobby?

Easy! Know how to shop...

Have Perspective

When you go fabric shopping, pretend your in the department store. That bolt of blue knit? It's really a long sleeve top. The purple really a frilly dress. 

Sometime we don't equate the fabric we see in the store with the item of clothing it will become. When shopping, think about what you want to make with the fabric, and whether the price you will pay for material is balanced with what it will become. 

For example, you want to make a dress. You will probably need 3 yards of material. Picking the $12.99/yd fabric is going to put the cost of your dress close to $40! And that's not including tax and the worth of your personal labor. Now, going for something on sale that's $5.99/yd is going to make your dress more like $18. 

You want to be super thrifty? Snagging that great deal on clearance fabric plus your coupons for $2/yd will make your dress....*drum roll*.... only $6! 

That's when sewing becomes a money saver. 

Get The Weekly Ads

So if you're going to start looking for fabric at it's best price, the first step is to start getting the weekly ads for your local fabric stores. 

Stores like Joann's and Hancock's offer many ways to stay updated with their sales. Check out their websites to sign up to have ads mailed to you and/or emailed to you.  

Pay attention to sales and coupons. Knowing how to shop is just as important as knowing when to shop. 

Understanding Sales

The trick to finding fabric when it's on sale for a good price, is to understand when a sale is actually a deal. 

One you sign up for weekly ads, you will constantly be bombarded with different sales. It will seem that nearly everything in the store is on sale! 

Keep calm and remember: anything on sale for less than 40% off is not worth getting excited for. 

Why you ask? Because stores usually always offer "40% and 50% off one regular price item" coupons. It would be better to buy that fabric at regular price and use your 50% coupon, than to "take advantage" of the "big" 30% off sale. 

Whenever something is on sale for 60% off or more, that is the time to stock up! These big sales usually occur around the ends of seasons, holidays, and years when stores want to clear out old fabrics. 


Coupons can usually be found on a stores website. When you sign up for weekly ads, you will also receive coupons. Coupons for fabric stores take a little bit of thought, and they can often be a little tricky. 

Most coupons have restrictions. It is important to pay attention to whether a coupon applies to all items, only regular price item, or include on sale items. 

It is also often sticky with how many coupons can be applies to an item. For example, some stores won't let you take 50% off an item as well as take 25% off the total purchase. In those cases it is good to think about whether coupons on individual items will be better than a coupon discounting your total purchase. 


Clearance fabrics are your best friends. This is where you find the greatest deals. Clearance fabrics aren't any less valuable than the regular priced ones. The fabrics that get put on clearance are there because the print has been discontinued and the stores can no longer re-order more of it for their customers. 

Joann's clearance fabrics are stacked on a table in the back and are labeled "Red Tag Fabrics". Often you can find fabric for $4/yd. 

Hancock Fabrics has a similar set up in their store called "Spot The Bolt". Reduced price fabric is stacked and marked with a colored sticker, and the color indicated whether the fabric is 50%, 60%, 70%, 80%, or 90% off the original price. 

Walmart Isn't Cursed 

In the fabric world, a lot of the time Walmart gets put down for having cheap material. But cheap doesn't exactly mean bad or unusable. 

Walmart is a good option for projects where high fabric quality is not a necessity. One time costumes, casual crafts, and clothes that will most likely get dirty or grown out of are times when low priced fabric will be your best bet. 

Think Outside The Bolt

Not all fabric is found at the fabric store. In fact, a fun place to go in search of material is the thrift store!

Curtains, bed sheets, and plus size clothing sold at thrift stores at a small cost can give you a nice amount of fabric. My best find was a set of three gorgeous lace curtains I found for $7! I have a few dressed actually made out of pretty floral bed sheets. Large sized full skirts a great too, and a thrifted men's shirt is the perfect size for baby and toddler sewing projects!

Hopefully these tips have given you some ideas for better, simpler fabric shopping.

And some ways to save a little more $$$

Did you like these tips?

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