Friday, August 14, 2009

Sewing on the Cheap

Recently, I have rediscovered sewing. I learned to sew when I was in the 7th grade from both my mom and my home ec teacher. Although I loved the idea of creating creative and special clothing and accessories, I was not a patient sewer and got frustrated easily. Throughout the years, I just dabbled in sewing now and then. It happened either out of necessity or because I would see something that would inspire me to say, "I can make that." One thing that tempts me to sew is seeing these cute little girl's dresses for sale for big boutique prices. I see them and think that I have got to hone my sewing skills because I cannot see paying that prices for just a little bit of fabric. But if you have ever done any sewing, you know that it is not as economical as you might think. By the time you purchase a pattern, fabric and notions for an outfit, you usually have more money wrapped into it than you would just to buy something ready-made at the store.

So, why now am I newly excited about sewing? I have discovered some ways to sew for cheap which I can share with you.

First of all, one word: Wal-Mart. Not all Wal-Mart stores have a fabric department, but if you are lucky enough to have one near you, it is worth checking out. The one near me is not huge and is limited in variety, but is a great resource for reasonably priced fabric. Most cotton prints are around $4/yard and flannel is $3/yard. This definitely beats the big fabric stores unless they are having a fantastic sale. The best deals I have found at Wal-Mart are on their clearance table. They have scads of fabric for only $1.50/yard. I am not sure where this fabric comes from, but they get in numerous full bolts of all types of fabric. I always laugh when I try to figure out what some type of fabric is from the label on the bolt which declares that it is made of "100% Undetermined Fabric Content." I figure that's a small price to pay for some beautiful cheap fabric that you can buy in decent quantities. Wal-Mart also has patterns for about 1/2 price.

My next big discovery is recycling fabric. I never thought much about this idea until I got inspired by someone on etsy selling these adorable leggings for kids made from recycled sweaters. I love the idea of taking something cast off and turning it into something new and usable. I have been looking at my clothing donation pile with new eyes now. A few months ago, I discovered that I had worn a hole right through the fitted sheet that we were using on our bed. I was disappointed because I really loved those soft sheets. I got to looking at them and started seeing a whole BUNCH of usable fabric in those king sized sheets- yards and yards of it. That's when I got the idea to make a nightgown out of a bedsheet. I figured it may not be quite the color that I wanted, but it would be very soft and comfy. I found a cute pattern (at Wal-Mart 1/2 price) and just needed to find the time to sew. In the meantime, my church had a rummage sale and I found a soft vintage bedsheet with a cute little floral pattern on it that I liked even beter than my own sheets. I slapped down my 50 cents and took it home and created the nightgown I showed off in this blog post. I have been wearing it and am totally thrilled with it. It cost me a total of $8.49 for the pattern plus the sheet which is less money than I would have spent for a cheap nightgown at Wal-Mart that I wouldn't love nearly as much.

Last week I stopped at two side by side garage sales on my way home and scored really big. At the first one, they were selling cute, flannel, twin-sized, snowman bedsheets. There were 3 sets of identical ones selling for $2 per set. My younger children generally do not use flat sheets. When I put them on their beds, they end up on the floor and are a nuisance. They use a fitted sheet and cover up with a comforter. So, I bought up all of these sheets and I plan to make my kids PJ's from the flat sheets to give them at Christmas (They always get Christmas PJs.) and I can give them sheets to match their PJs. How fun is that! At this same sale, I also picked up a pretty bright red fabric shower curtain for $1. It has a wonderful texture and looks to be made of cotton. That's a lot of nice fabric for a buck!

The sale next door was done by an older couple with all kinds of antiques. I really scored big finding a hand embroidered table runner and doily for just a quarter a piece. I will probably use parts of these as accents on something that I make. I also got an adorable, big, printed, vintage tablecloth for only 50 cents. The lady was apologizing because it had a stain, but I didn't care because I plan to repurpose it - probably to make a couple of cute aprons. I can see making some really cute gifts with these that will cost practically nothing but my time.

Another thing to do when trying to sew cheap is sign up for mailings from your local fabric and craft stores. Around here, we have Jo-Ann's and Hancocks. Both run really good sales and send out coupons regularly, but you have to be on their mailing list.

For inspiration and patterns, be sure to check out free resources. These certainly include the internet. It takes no more than a simple google search to find many free patterns on the internet. Also, do not forget to take advantage of your library. I have checked out many books that include patterns.

So, I hope that some of these ideas have inspired you, too, to drag out that sewing machine to create something thrifty and fun.

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