Where to Buy Cheap Fabric

by Merissa on October 24, 2012

in Featured, Thrifty Living

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I’m not a big sewer but I do like to buy fabric occasionally for certain crafting projects and for miscellaneous mending needs. The trouble is that most of the time the fabric you can get at regular fabric stores is way too expensive to make it worth buying. Now I’m sure that many of you that are bigger sewers than I am having more tips than this so make sure to share them with the rest of us! Here is a list of places that I've gotten cheaper fabric.

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  1. Garage Sales. This doesn't happen all the time but occasionally I will be able to find fabric (mostly scrap) at garage sales. I’ve noticed that if a sale is going to have fabric is generally advertised in their newspaper ad. (I don’t want to stereotype here but they do tend to be in what I call a “nick-nack sale” that is, a sale that is generally put on by an older person and contains mostly home décor items instead of clothes, toys, ect.)
  2. Senior Center Sales. This one is similar to garage sales above but one put on in a senior center. We have one of these sales yearly in my area at a large senior center and it usually has a huge table full of fabric!
  3. Thrift Stores. This is usually a fairly reliable source of inexpensive fabric. All of the local thrift stores I can think of have a nice “crafting” section that usually has dozen of bundles of fabric. These bundles are a little more expensive than the previous 2 options but as I said, you have a pretty good chance at getting fabric at a thrift store whereas rummage sales and senior center sales can be hit and miss. I’ve even found some fairly large amounts of fabric at thrift stores not just scrap.
  4. The Fabric Store. Wait…didn’t I just say that fabric stores were expensive? Well they can be, but like in all stores, there are always ways to find a deal! Look for clearance racks of discontinued patterns. Some fabric stores also hold sales were you can find half price deals on the “regular” fabrics, however the best luck I’ve had at finding deals is shopping the clearance.
  5.  Big Box Stores. Yes, even stores like Walmart and Hobby Lobby have good deals on fabric! Search around until you find the remnant bin and you can get deals on scrap fabrics. I’ve even found some remnants that are several yards long, enough to make a large project with!

Those are the places that I’ve been able to find cheap fabric. Occasionally I use fabric for projects such as re-purposing clothing but mostly I buy a lot of fabric for use in photography, so those of you that buy for bigger projects might know of better places! Shout them out in the comments!

Is sewing really worth it? And can sewing save your budget?

Find more saving money ideas on Little House Living!

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{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Laura October 24, 2012 at 9:21 am

I like to look at the plus sized dresses at thrift stores too. Jumpers especially are a great source of fabric for smaller projects. Just be sure the dress doesn’t have too many seams, which make the overall pieces of fabric smaller.

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2 Merissa October 24, 2012 at 9:22 am

Great tip!

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3 Meg October 24, 2012 at 9:27 am

I can add to your list! I sew for a living and am a bargain hunter, so I’ve been learning the ins and outs of this.

Estate sales can be a great place to find fabric and notions, especially vintage stuff. Not many people are in the market for that kind of stuff and they usually price the stuff very cheaply to get rid of it.

I’ve had some luck at church rummage sales as well. I get the sense that a lot of it is leftovers from estate sales, hence – vintage fabric and notions, and even some great books and pamphlets for projects.

Also, if you don’t need a lot of fabric, check out the remnant bins at fabric stores. These are the ends of bolts that have less than a yard left on them, and they are usually marked down by at least 50%. They’re especially great for pieces of polar fleece and quilting cottons, and even piece of interfacing.

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4 Merissa October 24, 2012 at 10:35 am

More great tips, thanks for sharing!

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5 Momma Mindy October 24, 2012 at 10:33 am

I’m a homeschooling momma blogger working her way through life on one blog and Little House on the Prairie school curriculum on another. Was fun to be guided to your blog today!

I rarely buy fabric at a fabric store. It was originally because I couldn’t afford to, now I realize I rarely have to, unless I need a very specific piece for a project.

Last weekend I was digging through a huge pile of fabric and the woman was so desperate to get rid of stuff, she gave me the WHOLE pile for $3. The pieces were 3-6 yards each, cotton, flannel, lace, it was amazing. I am teaching my last child, a ten year old girl, to sew, so it’s wonderful having a lot of material to enjoy without worrying about making a mistake and “wasting it.”

I use thrift stores for buttons, as well. When they clearance clothes out for really cheap, I look for clothes that have buttons I like. Cheaper to spend $.99 for a shirt full than $4 for a card with 4.

This was a fun blog to find this morning!

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6 Merissa October 24, 2012 at 10:35 am

What a great find! And a big warm welcome!

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7 Jennifer October 24, 2012 at 10:59 am

Try substituting sheets, either bought on clearence or at a thrift store. You get a ton of fabric (Especially if you are looking for Jersey Knit) for a much lower price!

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8 Merissa October 24, 2012 at 11:02 am

Oh I’ve done this before and forgot to include it in the list, great thinking!

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9 Linda January 23, 2013 at 7:42 am

This is great! I have been using sheets for a long time and irks very well. Curtains and shower curtains and so much more. Also I have used table clothes for a lot of things.

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10 Mel October 24, 2012 at 2:03 pm

Does anyone remember sending away for a “scrap assortment” from Coats & Clarks?, I think? I can still remember that they would send you zippers, lace, buttons..anything that they make..it was quite an assortment & it was FREE!..you just had to send a stamp..it was enough to fit inside a large envelope. I was only 10, but I can still remember opening it & examining everything..it was WONDERFUL to a little girl just wanting to learn to sew! :)

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11 L Welsh December 11, 2013 at 8:15 am

I remember that too They used to ask for 3 rapings and they would send ribbons and lace That was Wright Co.

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12 Christine October 24, 2012 at 2:43 pm

I live near Los Angeles. Downtown, there is a ‘fabric district’.
I’ve gotten really great bargains there. I go early so I can find parking, and only take as much cash as I plan to spend, plus a couple $ for a hot dog from the street vendor :) otherwise, I’ll go a little crazy! (I’m a fabric junkie!)
If you live near, or are visiting a large city, ask around to find out where the fabric district is.

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13 Ruthann October 25, 2012 at 4:19 am

I sew all my kids’ clothes and am always on the look out for great fabric. One place I have found that you can find some really cute fabric is online at Connecting Threads – their clearance section often has fabric for as little as $1.95/yd. It is geared towards quilters, but I have found some very lovely fabric that was neither cheap looking nor cheaply made. Be cautious of some of the big bulk stores because they have a tendency to sell cheaply made fabric – which if you have to replace often or redo, can be more costly. I also shop around at Fabric.com where they will occasionally have nice clearance and then I stock up to take advantage of their free shipping. Ebay is another good place to hunt for speciality fabric that can be costly elsewhere, just watch out for high shipping prices! Sometimes when you live so far from town, it’s more economical to do your shopping online, like us; that being said, nothing beats spending some quiet time strolling through a large fabric store!

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14 Betty Keeney January 18, 2013 at 7:57 am

Thank you for letting us know about Connecting Threads. Just checked it out and there is FREE shipping on orders of $50 or more. And their clearance section is full of stuff. Bookmarked this page because I’m sure I’ll be going there often.

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15 Roxie November 25, 2012 at 2:38 pm

I love to sew. I love to get wool men’s suits at the thrift store. I have taken those apart and made beautiful pillows, quilts, and even other clothes from the suits.
I brought a set of new curtains in a thrift store….It has about 20 yards of fabric.(these are commercial drapes from an office building) I will use the backing of the curtains for a quilt backing. For the sum of $8.00 I got almost 40 yards of fabric.

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16 jane December 27, 2012 at 12:20 pm

Oh, and don’t forget some online places. Sometimes folks get rid of fabric lots on Ebay, you’ll have to take what comes with it.
I like Gehmans Country Fabrics, online store, very good prices and the Tropical Breeze fabric is literally a breeze to sew!

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17 Judy Raney January 18, 2013 at 7:34 am

Find the wholesale distributers in your town, they usually have “open to the Public” times and you get to buy at the wholesale price.

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18 marci357 January 18, 2013 at 12:26 pm

Bag Sales at Church Rummage Sales…. in my town consistently the best place for extremely inexpensive fabric.
For $1 or $2 for the paper Grocery sack, I can neatly roll up 12-15 warm bathrobes. Lots of fabric in a bathrobe! For $1 bag, a laundry washing, and used elastic for waistlines, I made NINE pairs of warm fluffy pajamas for my grandkids one Christmas…. plus, with old pillow stuffing, matching little teddy bears to go with :) Awesome frugality :)

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19 Joy January 28, 2013 at 10:30 am

love these tips… more more please !!!

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20 Stacie @ Staying Me February 2, 2013 at 9:21 pm

Awesome tips, thank you! I’m just learning how to sew, and hate to waste money on expensive fabric.

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21 Jenn December 10, 2013 at 10:32 pm

I frequent the remnant bins at Joann’s Fabrics…they are always 50%, but that is not a huge deal since Joann’s often has 40% or even 50% coupons. However, it’s 50% off the current price so if the fabric is on sale that week, you get 50% off the sale price and that’s where I find the deals.

For example, this week it’s 60% off snuggle flannel prints. They are normally $6.99, onsale for $2.80. So a yard of flannel remnant would be $1.40! Obviously, the downside is that remnants are hit and miss, or you find something but only 10″ of the fabric…but I always make sure to look thru them for the occasional great deal ;0)

And a couple of weekends a year, they have 75% off remnants!

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22 Andrea December 10, 2013 at 10:35 pm

I like to hit up the remnant bins at JoAnn, but I try to know what fabrics are on sale – the sale carries over to remnants! I just got about 3/4 of a yard of minky dot fabric that was about $11 regular price, $5.40 on sale, then 50% off because it was a remnant! I also love stocking up when they have 50% off red tag fabric.

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23 Dawnjerrene December 11, 2013 at 12:07 am

Sheets can make very nice fabric. My kids and I like to attend Civil War re-enactments; they love the clothes. Percale sheets make wonderful dresses and pantalets for the girls. Thrift stores usually have lots of used sheets, in patterns and solids. Lots of fun for little money. :-)

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24 Yvonne December 11, 2013 at 6:48 am

Hey in my neck of the country the yard & garage sales are not “little old lady” stuff. Nor “nick nack ” crap. ! Thrift stores are great for fabric from comforters, clothing, craft stuff also to make quilts, blankets and wool for beautiful rugs.

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25 Merissa December 11, 2013 at 8:19 am

So lucky! :)

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26 Libby Balarezo December 11, 2013 at 6:54 am

Great tips!! Thank you :)

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27 Heather December 11, 2013 at 11:01 pm

I’ll put in a plug for auctions here, too! Fabric is often included in “other items too numerous to mention”, rather than actually listed, but a listing for a sewing machine means there is likely fabric to go with. Auctions are also the BEST source for vintage linens, which can often be repurposed beautifully. At one auction, I spent $6 (yes, six dollars) and brought home a perfectly working sewing machine, in good shape, including cabinet and chair, a bunch of thread, both sewing machine thread and serger cones, some trims and elastic, and about 3 banana boxes worth of fabric, most of it quite nice stuff. Definitely, all of my daughter’s summer dresses came out of that bunch of fabric that year. Another time, I got two huge boxes of cotton knits for $20…but that was a very odd auction.

Also, if people around you know you sew, fabric will often find you. Be grateful for it all, and pass the icky polyester doubleknit from the ’70′s on to someone who will appreciate it (or use it for weed block?) and more good fabric will find you

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28 Heather December 11, 2013 at 11:07 pm

One more auction possibility: last winter, I bought an auction box of linens because there were a couple of good wool blankets in the box, and the whole box was $5. When I got home, it turned out that there was a bunch of vintage linens and assorted tablecloths under the blankets, including a pilebof those round tablecloths that it used to be in style to have hanging all the way down to the floor, hiding a small round endtable sized table. Well, my 6 year-old was asking for “Laura and Mary” dresses and pinafores, to wear as summer playclothes. Those already-ruffled tablecloths made up into very nice little girl pinafores!

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29 joanne December 13, 2013 at 2:17 pm

Small town thrift store prices are much better than the bigger towns and cities. Also, don’t forget about sheets! Lots of fabric there and often times we find new or nearly-new sheets at the thrift stores. Our local thrift store sells them for a dollar each. That’s one dollar for a whole dress :) or a few aprons.

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30 Melissa February 15, 2014 at 5:03 pm

OHGOSH!!! I am kicking myself now since I just got rid of the majority of the stuff but – thank you, thank you for the idea of using the old polyester knits for a weed block layer! I now have a use for any more that finds it’s way to my house!

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31 Michelle March 11, 2014 at 6:45 pm

I go to Goodwill on quarter day and buy dress shirts for $.25 each.
Just watch content. Looking for the color tag that marks if it’s a quarter
Makes shopping take less time. A real score for me is a XLT men’s shirt with long sleeves! ;) I use cotton and flannel bed sheets for quilt backs a lot if the weave is not too tight. Sometimes Bed, Bath and Beyond will have bedding on clearance and I just get picky so I don’t overdo it. Use the bottom (fitted) sheet for piecing, and the top (flat) sheet for backs or clothes. I usually end up keeping pillowcases as they are; great for giving and storing quilts in.

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32 Donna March 11, 2014 at 6:56 pm

Don’t forget to buy canvas drop cloths at Lowe’s , Home Depot or Big Lots and Fred’s. Lots of yardage cheap, and you can dye it in a plastic storage tub! Very good for things that need to be durable…

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