Thrifty Thursday – Sewing can be expensive. How I save money when I sew.

Thrifty Thursdays – Sewing can be expensive.  How I save money when I sew.  

I apologize to anyone who looked at this post and found nothing.  I had the post written and somehow deleted it even after I hit the publish button.  Lesson to be learned with this thing called blogging.  Again, I apologize.


I have been sewing for over 35 years.  Gosh that makes me sound old and I’m not, I just started sewing early.  That works, right?  When I started sewing, it was economical to make your own clothes.  I got a higher quality of clothing for a lower cost.  Now days that isn’t the case.  Everything about sewing is expensive.  Fabric is outrageously expensive. Notions cost too much as do sewing patterns.  It isn’t that I no longer want to make my own clothing, it is simply not economical to do so.  Clothing now is manufactured to be throw away.  Styles change too readily and manufactured at a cost that the home sewer can’t compete with.  Therefore, I rarely sewing clothing for myself.


Last week I bought a jersey knit skirt at Old Navy.  It was on clearance and cost  $3.00.   It would take a minimum of 1 yard of fabric to make. This week jersey knit is on sale at JoAnn fabrics for $6.49 a yard.  Luckily thread is also on sale for $4.19 a spool.  If I don’t already have a pattern, patterns range between $9.00 and $14.00 a piece and that is with the JoAnn discount.   I’m now up to $19.68.   If you consider your time to be of any value, you  would add that in too.   It is a quick and easy skirt so if I consider my time to be worth $10.00 a hour, I’m up to $29.68 for the same skirt I just paid $3.00 for.  Personally it isn’t worth my time.

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These days I quilt, sew smaller items such as purses, wallets and totes, make gifts and household things.


Because fabric is so expensive, I rarely buy fabric at JoAnn’s.  That is the only fabric store other than a few quilt shops that we have in the Pittsburgh area.  I do occasionally purchase fabric online but usually I pick up fabric from the thrift stores, garage sales and from craigslist.  My local thrift store does not have a huge amount of fabric but they do have bargain Saturdays where all one color tags are only $.99.  I start in the plus size racks.  I look at clothing not as what it is, but rather what could it be.  Obviously plus size clothing yields more fabric than a size 0 in juniors.  I then head to the linens. You would never find me passing up a solid color sheet for $.99.  Sheets give you lots of yardage and can be used for 100 different things.  You can not buy a fat quarter these days for $.99.  Never pass up a sheet set at the thrift store or garage sale.  Pillow cases are great too.  The above pillow cases I got 6 sets of beautifully laced vintage pillow cases for $2.00 at a garage sale.  I gave all but this one set away as gifts last Christmas.  I did the applique and embroidery and everyone who received a set loved them.


I make a lot of wristlets.  All the wristlets shown are made from recycled clothing.  (Stay tuned, I will be doing a tutorial on how to make the wristlets .) Wristlets require zippers and I do not take the time to tear out a zipper – although I do cut off all buttons and reuse.  Zippers at JoAnn’s cost $2.29 for a 8″ zipper.  I buy my zippers from Ebay.  You can get 50 different color zippers for around $10.00.  5 zippers at JoAnn’s is over $11 plus tax.  Getting them on Ebay is like getting 45 free zippers.


Sewing machine needles are expensive too.  Schmidt’s needles at JoAnn’s are $4.99 for 5 needles.  I would never pay that.  I have sewn for over 35 years, I have owned my own embroidery shop and I always use Organ needles.  They work perfectly.  I buy Organ needles on Ebay too.  They average about $12 for 100 needles.


Buying thread at the store would make me hyperventilate.  The spools continuously shrink and if you are quilting, you could easily eat up several spools in the course of one project.  I simply do not have it in me to spend money on little spools of thread.  Never buy thread at a garage sale or thrift store though.  Thread goes bad. It dry rots and you can’t tell this by looking at it.  If you are working on a project and the thread keeps breaking even after you have checked everything 3 times, your thread is probably old.  I buy Isacord thread for all my quilting. Leah Day, the free motion quilting queen also uses only Isacord too.   You can read about Leah’s thread choice here.  General all purpose thread at JoAnn fabrics is $2.99 for 250 yards.  Isacord is about $13.00 for 5000 meters.  250 yards is 750 feet.  5000 meters is about 16404.20 feet. Cost wise,  you would need almost 4-1/2  spools of regular thread to match the cost of the Isacord.  4-1/s spools would yield 3375 feet of thread compared to 16404.20 feet of Isacord for the same price.

Thanks for stopping by. See you next time.


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