I made a dress for $4.00!

I made a dress, thought I didn’t like it, got rid of the pattern, salvaged the dress, regretted tossing the pattern, then couldn’t find the pattern number anywhere!!

Ugh, sometimes my minimalistic tendencies backfire and this is one of those times! But the bright side is, I made a dress, I love it, and it only cost me $4!

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Sewing doesnt’t have to break the bank! If you’re sewing on a budget like me, I have tips for you! | Pin, Cut, Sew Studio

I got this fabric at my local thrift store for $3.99. It actually cost less than that because my thrift store has a 20% military discount! It’s a nice rayon i a gorgeous color and there were about 2 yards. The pattern was given to me by a friend who wasn’t really sewing clothing any more and needed to offload her pattern stash, so it was free. I wish I could tell you the pattern number, but alas, I cannot find it! I got rid of the pattern because I actually made this dress months ago and just felt like it was kinda frumpy. I got rid of the pattern! Dumb, because last weekend, I tried this dress on and decided all it really needed was to be two inches shorter. I made the alteration and ended up LOVING this dress, I felt great in it all day and my husband even commented on how much he likes this one. (I also like sleeveless dresses better when I have a tan, which I didn’t have when I first made it, haha).

So, I’m pretty sure I remember it being a Vogue pattern, but I looked at all 338 dress patterns on Vogue’s website and cannot find it. It’s probable that it’s out of print, since I have no idea how long my friend had it before giving it to me. If you have this pattern and can help me out with the pattern number, I will update this post!

But anyway …

If you’re sewing on a budget like me and get frustrated that it seems like an expensive hobby, be encouraged by this post, because a little creativity in how you acquire your materials can go a long way in keeping you in the sewing room. I’ve written a tip-filled article about frugal sewing, which you can read here, or by clicking on the photo below.

What are your best money saving tips for sewing? And what’s the best deal you’ve ever gotten on a piece of fabric?? We want to hear about it in the comments!

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Frugal Sewing

This post contains affiliate links, which means that while I am not paid to promote certain items, I will earn a small commission should you purchase items through these links.  For more info, see my disclosure policy.

Even just a couple decades ago, sewing was still considered a less expensive way of meeting one’s wardrobe and household needs. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but this is just no longer the case. There are all kinds of reasons people sew, but I don’t think “because it saves me money” is often on anyone’s list anymore.

I don’t sew just because it’s cheap, but I would argue that it does save me money in certain instances, and I have some tried-and-true practices that allow me to keep at my favorite hobby in a frugal way. I hope this can help some of you!

My five tips on how to make sewing cost less money!  ||  Pin, Cut, Sew Studio

Frugal Fabric Shopping

Use your thrift stores.

When my family needs something, I always try to thrift it first, before moving on to retail stores (you’d be shocked to see the like-new name brand shoes I find there on a regular basis!) Fabric is no exception and it’s super fun to think outside the box when sourcing fabrics at thrift stores. Here are my tips on what to look for:

  • Shop the entire linens section. Not only is this where they keep fabric yardage people have donated, there are other gems also. I’ve made pajamas out of vintage cotton sheets. I also buy large sheets to use as muslins, and since I don’t care what they look like, I find the colored tag that’s half off that week. I’ve found vintage tablecloths to turn into aprons and sweatshirt fleece blankets to make hoodies out of. Last month I found a giant piece of nice activewear fabric to make my daughter some leotards (my next project!)

  • Look for notions. I never pass up a bag of zippers at the thrift store! Often they will package notions together in bags and hang them on an end cap.

  • Look for the potential of ready-to-wear clothes. I was making a dress and didn’t have enough of my rayon fabric to line it. I wanted the lining to be rayon, so I went to my thrift store and found a white rayon skirt with plenty of yardage to line my bodice AND to make a slip for myself out of the skirt’s own lining and elastic waistband.

Think before you donate.

Sometimes I raid my giveaway bag to make sure I can’t remake something into something new. For a full list of ideas on refashioning clothes, see my post here. And if you can’t remake them as clothes, consider using them to sew doll clothes or zipper pouches or other craft items instead. I’m currently disassembling a full skirt out of cotton gingham that my daughter thrifted and outgrew, to make a summer top for myself!

Beware the “stash”.

This may not be a popular opinion in the sewing community, but if you’re tight on funds, don’t prioritize keeping a large fabric stash. I have found I waste less when I try to only buy what I have a plan for, with a pattern already in mind. I can only make one thing at a time, after all. Even when I do buy several fabrics at once, like when I visit Denver, I resist the urge to put them in a drawer and instead, try to use them over the next few months. This is because all too often, the longer we keep things, the less enamored we are with them. A year or two from now, you may not even like that fabric that you just had to have now. If you’ll trying to sew frugally, keep the stash small.

Shop at fabric stores and online wisely.

I don’t want to make this sound like I don’t shop for fabrics the regular way. I do! I love Hobby Lobby for their Spring and Fall fashion fabric lines and their prices are incredible for great quality fabrics. They go on sale very often, or you can use a 40% off coupon. I am NOT a fan of Joann and avoid going there. Occasionally I’ll find a gem in the clearance, but that rarely happens. Their fabric is vastly overpriced in my opinion and I absolutely hate trying to play their coupon games. I’ve been overcharged quite often there too and I know I’m not alone in that.

So I shop at Hobby Lobby or online instead. I know there are a myriad of amazing resources online for beautiful fabrics, but most of them are not in my budget. I’ve found Denver Fabrics and Fabric.com to be my best options for low cost, high quality fabrics. I subscribe to their emails so that I’m notified of sales on fabrics I’m looking for (but I only click over if I actually have fun money to spend!) These emails are how I landed on Natalie’s Easter dress fabric. Fabric.com partners with Amazon, with Prime shipping too, so that makes it even easier to shop with them.

Frugal Pattern Shopping

Wait for pattern sales.

If you’re new to garment sewing, you may not know that the “Big 4” patterns brands go on sale constantly, for as little as $1.99. If you don’t have a fabric store near you where you can shop those sales, subscribe to the emails from Simplicity and McCall’s so you’ll be notified when they put their brands on sale for $3.99. This is how I shopped for patterns when I lived in Hawaii. And even now, since Hobby Lobby doesn’t carry Butterick, I order Butterick during those sales online, as part of my strategy to avoid Joann, ha!

New Look patterns are always inexpensive. So if I have a fabric and am wanting to make something specific right away, I check New Look first.

My method is to keep a running list in the notes app on my phone of patterns I’d like. Every time new patterns are released, it feels a little like Christmas (am I the only one?) and I love to look through them and add the ones I like to my list. This way, I’m ready to run in and grab the patterns I need when there’s a sale.

So, it seems all this culminates into one big piece of advice: learn to think outside the box! Be resourceful, be creative and sewing doesn’t need to break the bank. I hope this has helped some of you. Please let me know if you have other frugal sewing tips for us!

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