Top Tip Tuesday: sewing on the cheap

Whilst being able to sew your own clothes is undoubtedly a useful skill, being able to afford the hobby can be a different matter. This week, our old friends over at Make It and Mend It have written a post about ways to score free fabric, and are asking for your input too.

Whilst I happily added my thoughts to the comments, I thought it might be helpful to share them here as well. So, my tips include:

  • First and foremost, make the most of your membership by coming along to the sew make believe sewing stash swap (date tbc) – a great way of getting rid of anything you don’t want and getting your paws on something you might actually use in the future.
  • Consider befriending fellow sewists with similar taste in clothes – it’s cheaper to buy pattern paper and trace a friend’s pattern than to buy patterns new, and cheaper still to trace the pattern straight onto newspaper taped together!
  • When reusing the fabric from old clothing don’t forget to save the fastenings. We all remember to snip off buttons, but it’s also a great idea to unpick the zips, remove the boning and even to save hook and eye fastenings for reuse.
  • It’s not just clothing that makes for great recycling – don’t rule out curtains or bed linen! Lots of old sheets and duvet covers come in pretty florals or unusual prints with plenty of fabric for summer dresses. And curtains come in wonderful regal patterns ideal for evening dresses or fancy dress costumes – even the linings can be reused to create bodice linings and broadcloth underskirts.
  • You can get up to six samples of fabric from John Lewis sent free of charge – a great way to get small bits of good quality fabric for a patchwork project or a small project. Simply select the six you want by checking the ‘select swatch’ box below each fabric, then click ‘order swatches’ and fill in your name, email and address (thanks, Nicky, for this tip!).
  • Finally, look at every offering with an unbiased eye. For example, that hideous 80s net veil you’ve been donated may never see wedding vows again, but will make for a fantstic net underskirt with a bit of imagination…

So, what are your top tips for building up your stash free of charge? Please share them, both here and over on the MIAMI site!


4 responses to “Top Tip Tuesday: sewing on the cheap

  1. You mention curtains but not saris. I’ve noticed more saris in charity shops of late and these are always silk and are always many metres long. Its a great way of getting some lovely colourful silk for a party dress.

  2. Freecycle can be good too – I got a bin bag of off cuts of material from an art student having a clear out – I ofetne see curtains and bags of clothes on offer as well

    You can’t pick or choose what you get but sometimes it’s fun to be inspried … I’ve made a few things out of that bag including a faux fur gilet and some cushion covers

  3. Great tips ladies!!

    Louise, now you mention is, there is a Salvo Army store in Leamington that always seems to have tons of saris. I have also had some rather funky curtain fabric and vintage sheets from there on occasion for around the £1 mark… It’s one of the less modern, boutiquey ones though and, without wanting to be indelicate, can sometimes sell items with that pungent charity shop smell, so washable fabrics are the best choice!

    Rae, I too am a fan of freecycle, but have never used it for fabrics. I’ll be swinging by our local group later to see what’s recently listed…

  4. Pingback: Caroline: window cushion projects « sew make believe·

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