Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Sew Cheap: Top Tips!

I love a bargain when it comes to my sewing - I am a student after all! I am happy to spend big if I can guarantee an outcome, but i'm still new at this so each pattern and fabric purchase is a massive gamble. What if I screw it up royally?!

I know I'm not the only one who loves a bargain, or even a good freebie, so I thought I'd put together some tips for sewing on a budget and also review some great (or not so great) free patterns. After a few inital posts, I plan to blog one free pattern review per month. Hold your horses, this isn't a blog series or anything!! I'm just dabbling in the 'theme' of how to Sew Cheap! Below are some tips and tricks I've come across as a beginner sewer. BUT, I first must declare that many many other bloggers have similar tips on how to sew on a budget or similar. My tips are not ground breaking, but they're what I do and what I find helpful

Top Tips For Sewing Cheap

1.  Build your stash by buying second hand fabrics from op-shops, online sellers or friends trying to clear their stash out. My first few sewing projects were sewn up using fabric remnants from savers, at a couple of $'s each, including two of my Sorbetto's and one Miette. I have also found old patterns in opshops but haven't been confident enough to sew them up yet.
Colette Sorbetto Tops

2. Refashion old clothes from your own or your families closet. Another two of my Sorbetto's are made from refashioning an old dress and an old shirt.

Fabric waiting to be refashioned: a top, nighty and two summer dresses
3. Do an informal fabric swap with friends or join a more formal swap such as 2014 Stash Diet Swap.

My messy Stash!
4.Go online for free sewing patterns and/or tutorials. In my next 'Sew Cheap' blog I'll document some of my very favorites that I've either made or plan to make soon.

5. Enter sewing competitions such as giveaways. You never know when and what you might win!

6. Have a go at designing your own patterns by tracing favorite store bought clothes. This is especially easy with simple t-shirts/blouses and elastic waist pant or PJs. But, if your confident, the sky is the limit!

7. Source patterns, fabric, notions from local distributors to cut shipping costs. For example, I buy all the patterns I can from Indie Stitches. They stock many of the big name independent pattern designers I like and deliver for FREE(!) within Australia.

Today was a good mail day!
8. PDF patterns are another option for cutting shipping costs as they are usually cheaper than paper patterns. But to make this option cheap you need a printer with reasonably priced ink cartridges.

9. Repeat sew patterns and customise to make different looks. Who needs 5 patterns that are almost, but not quite, identical?

10. Stock up on notions, fabrics basics, and patterns when there are sales. Sales are a reason to shop, my friend!

11. Make Sewing Friends! Sewing buddies may be happy to make fabric swaps, loan you patterns or gift unused fabric and patterns. They will provide invaluable sewing advice, whether it be how not to fudge up that new pattern you bought (on sale!), or where the local cheap-as-chips fabric stores are. Equally, sewing buddies might be a bad influence in fabric stores - peer pressure! Regardless, making friends who sew, whether online or in real life, will bring you a great deal more than just a few bargains.

12. Remember you don't need the absolute the most expensive of everything, but do your research and know when it is important to spend a bit of money.

And that's all I can think of for now, but I'll add to the list as I continue to learn how to sew cheap. I should also note that Tim (bf) would probably disagree with me if I was to tell him I kept my sewing spending to a minimum budget. It goes to show than even a girl who loves a bargain is tempted!


  1. These are great tips Liz - I like to use op shop sheets as cheap fabric to make muslins and trace patterns off store clothes. You get a lot of fabric for your $$ that way :)

    1. Thanks Renee! Yes, sheets, table cloths and other thrifted fabric to make muslin is a great tip.

  2. These are really good tips Elizabeth...great for a newbie like me. I like the idea of sewing buddies...now to find some locals!

    1. Thanks Mel! You already have loads of online sewing buddies, just need to turn a few into 'real-life' friends. I'm in the same boat there! I'm trying continue my unusual joining behaviour and get involved in some social sewing groups around Melbourne. Perhaps there are some near-by for you? Did you meet some friendly ladies in your sewing classes?

    2. Actually, I meet a lady from my company at a sewing class. She works on the floor below me...she's friends with a friend of mine so I think we'll be lunching soon! I'm dead keen to meet some bloggers in real life, but I get so nervous that I chicken out! Bwak bwak!

  3. Fabulous suggestions! I actually do almost all of these as I don't want my sewing hobby to financially ruin me! LOL. I have made some terrific scores at my local thrift shoppes, almost unbelievable some of them in terms of fabric, notions and sewing books.

    1. Thanks! Thrift stores really helped me out for my first few makes. I made up free patterns using dirt cheap thrifted fabric. I've collected a huge number of thrifted zippers! Must be on the look out for sewing books, thanks for the suggestion!