Stock up on Fabric for Less than You Expect

by Guest Contributor · 2 comments

Purchasing fabric for sewing, crafting, or any other use can be an expensive endeavor. Some upholstery materials can cost well over $75 a yard. This doesn’t mean you are consigned to the bargain bin each time you want to sew; it just means you have to be smart with your money. Here are a number of ways you can get as much fabric as you possibly need without spending a fortune.

Think Wholesale

Wholesale fabrics, just like other wholesale items, cost less. How much less? Sometimes they are pennies on the dollar. The catch? You have to buy a lot. How much exactly depends upon the website or distributor.

You might get away with as little as 10-15 yards on a bolt. That is perfect if you are sharing the fabric with a bunch of quilting friends. On the other hand, some bolts are 100 yards or longer, and that is really too much for a casual sewer. Make sure you ask before you order.

Hit the Garment District

If you are lucky enough to live in New York City, you can head for the Garment District. Between 5th and 8th and 37th and 38th, you will find the historic area where fabric has been selling for decades. Manufacturers line the streets, people rush around pushing trolleys of samples, and you can pick up unusual fabrics for a song.

Join the Mailing List

It’s an old trick to get your contact information, but if you sew regularly, you want to join the mailing list. I am on two such lists, and every month I get a mailer that lists the specials as well as provides two coupons. One is always a 40% off coupon on one cut of fabric up to 5 yards. When nothing but new will do, that is a winner for me.

Consider Alternatives

Just because it didn’t come from a fabric store doesn’t mean it can’t be used for just about anything. Consignment shops have plenty of clothing, sheets, and fleece that can be re-purposed for sewing. Sheets make great curtains or fabric for summery girl’s dresses. Fleece can be turned into pillows, fleece blankets can be tied together to create the popular tied fleece throws, and any really large items can be cut apart and used for smaller sizes.

Sales are Superb

Every fabric store in creation experiences that same dilemma. A season is coming to an end and some of their fabrics didn’t sell. If you want to make everyone a Christmas-themed fleece jacket, who says you can’t buy the fabric in January and keep it until the next year? Your kids will need new clothes next summer, so avoid faddish materials, buy classics and stock up when the fall arrives. If you aren’t finicky, you can end up getting fabric for 75% off or better.

Slowly building a good stash of fabric will also make you less likely to spend on impulse. Always make sure to check what you have before you buy something else, as not buying anything is the best way to save money.

Want more saving tips? Check out the How to Save Money on Everything ebook, which you can get free by signing up for the free frugal email newsletter.

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  • lease says:

    Buying wholesale goods can help save money because they cost less. I like the idea of purchasing classic fabrics and checking what you have before buying something else.

  • indio says:

    My local fabric store occasionally has sales to celebrate their anniversary or some other special event. They usually announce the sale via email and then have special times for taking advantage of the discount. It starts at 25% if you shop at 9-10 am, and 20% if shop at 10-11am etc. I usually stock up on batting, thread and fabric when they have those sales. I keep a list and measurements of the projects I want to make, such as padded roman shades, and when they have the sale I know exactly what I need.

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