I have put together a little series of tips, tricks and cost cutting ideas for sewing and crafting on a budget. I am sure these are familiar to many of you. However, there are always people discovering the joys sewing for the first time - you may find this useful.
1. Sewing Machines - Borrow from a friend or Buy a second hand machine
If you are new to sewing I would suggest borrowing a machine from a friend or family member. Have it for a while and try to sew up some simple things. Some people find that they are really not into sewing once they have tried. It would be a shame to spend lots of money and find that you don't enjoy it. If you then decide that love it, the first place to go is to this blog for great reviews of older sewing machines. I reviewed my machine here and I am happy to answer any questions on this model. Check out eBay, local papers, garage sales, and op shops. Keep in mind that the machine will most likely need a service or at least a very good clean out. Sewing machine repairers often sell older machines.
2. Shop around for your fabric and supplies
I know that this is difficult for many of us as unfortunately there are only a couple of major fabric stores in most areas. Sadly these major fabric stores have perhaps caused the decline of the smaller store holder (I could go on about that here but perhaps another day). Lucky people in Melbourne and Sydney have access to some great fabric stores like this one and this one and I have shopped at here and here in Tasmania. The good news is that these stores have online shopping available.
I have also found noticeable price variations in quality quilting fabric so shop around. There is a whole world of shopping on the internet - I could go on for days... Look on eBay, Etsy, Google search 'quilting fabric' or 'fabric suppliers' and you will be inundated with hits. You will find some very good prices online but, remember to add shipping into your calculations.
Op shops (thrift stores) are a great place for general sewing supplies. They often have big bins of fabric at very cheap prices. And yarn and knitting needles and great old patterns and sewing and craft books. I have picked up loads of supplies at my local oppy's - fabric, embroidery thread, this sewing basket, books, patterns, leather scraps, wool...
You all know of the endless possibilities that re-purposing can hold (just check out this Mama and a new book that is all about this topic). Don't just stop at bed sheets and tee-shirts - Amy does it beautifully with old sweaters. Have a look through your wardrobe looking at the fabric and the possibilities. Do the same at the op shop - don't give up on that hideous heavily gathered skirt - look at how much fabric is in there. Take it from me, some skirts can yield a good few meters of fabric.
Look for dresses at op shops or on sale that can be cut down into skirts - this a-line skirt is cut from an ankle length dress. The dress was only about 4.00AUS, a size 8 but had a long (and big) a-line bottom half and a little top part. I got the big bit for my big bottom half and my sister fitted happily into the little top that I re-purposed into a jacket.
Men's wool or wool blend suit pants can make rather smart trousers for a young boy or girl (a leg from each leg) or a girls pinafore (it will have a leg seam up the middle but this can 'covered' with lovely vertical rows of braiding or ric-rac). Big peoples jeans can be cut down into small peoples jeans.