Savings Made by Sewing: Save on Fabric {Sew Thrifty | www.sewthrifty,org}

Savings Made by Sewing {Fabric} with Phat Quarters

We are in for another treat today! Gemia from Phat Quarters is our guest blogger telling us how to save money on fabric. Not only does she have an amazing fabric shop (luckyyyy!), she also has a blog with dozens of tutorials and pattern reviews. Let’s hear what she’s got for us today!


Hi! I am Gemia from Phat Quarters. I’m super excited to be here today and to share a little insider’s info with you today on how to save money when purchasing fabrics. I run a small online fabric shop with my friend Leah, also called Phat Quarters. My first tip for saving money when purchasing fabrics for your next project is to purchase the right CUT. So let’s start off with learning about the different cuts that you can find.

In this diagram you will see not only the cut sizes but an example of the cost of each cut (for the same fabric). Your checkbook is not reading this so let’s be honest with each other for a minute – how many times have you purchased just a half yard of a fabric and then three projects later you really want that print again? So…after resisting for a few hours, or if you are really good, a day, you make the purchase again. Not only are you paying for another half yard cut, because you only need a little…again, you are also paying for shipping again. Now, using this beautiful Art Gallery print Nisi Floral Oceanon, as an example, your two, half-yard cuts plus shipping comes to a total cost of $16.50. If you had purchased a one-yard cut to begin with, then you would have only spent a total of $13.95. That is a savings of $2.55 and every penny counts! I know what you are thinking, spend money to save money, not much of a tip, but trust me, I see it happen all the time! I never buy less than a one-yard cut anymore, especially if I have to pay for shipping costs!

My favorite tip for saving money on fabric however, is to use a project budget rather than a fabric budget. I tend to shop sales, buy from the remnant bin, and see a fabric and think I can use this for multiple projects; and so I purchase without a specific project in mind. While this style of fabric shopping might seem to be a budget breaker, what works for me is to label all my fabrics with their price so that when it is time to complete a project I can set a budget at that level and then turn to my stash. This helps me to understand the cost of each project better and keeps me from spending a lot of money on one dress or shirt. This also makes me use my fabric stash for projects rather than finding a project and going shopping for fabric. It is kinda along the same lines of advice as ‘Do not go grocery shopping when you are hungry!’

To keep me within my project budget I use the rule of thirds in regards to fabric prices and color proportions. Most often we think of the rule of thirds as a visual grid but, for color proportions and your budget, it is better explained as the gallon/quart/pint approach. As an example I made the Extraordinary Girl Shirt by Filles a Maman using these three knit fabrics; Paparounes by Art Gallery ($16 per yard), a solid Coral ($10 a yard), and a solid Hot Pink ($4.99 per yard). First, we are going to categorize the fabrics based on price to fill up our budget. Paparounes is the most expensive so we can only afford a pint of it in our budget. The Hot Pink is the least expensive so we want to use a gallon of it. That leaves the Coral for the remaining pint of our budget. This allows us to use all of our desired fabrics but also maintain a balanced budget.

Next, we need to think of the project piece. In a limitless world I would use the Paparounes for as much of the shirt as possible because I love this print so much. But for my budget I cannot, and so I have to choose how to highlight this fabric to get the best bang for my buck! So I am going to use this fabric for the Front Bodice & Sleeves which I feel is a good compromise between what I want (a gallon of it) and what I can afford to use (a pint of it). So I will use this fabric for a quart of the project. Now based off my budget, the fabric I have the most of is the Hot Pink, which was the least expensive. Therefore, I will use this fabric in the gallon amount. To do that I will make the shirt Back and the Lower Front Bodice all out of the Hot Pink. That leaves the coral, which will be used in an pint amount for the shirt – the Pocket.

As I work through this process with my budget and my project, I am able to clearly see the difference between what I want and what I can afford. Sometimes I will cheat a little on the budget (if it is a really special or cool project). Like for this shirt after cutting it out, I decided that I did not like the little bit of pink on the top of the shirt, so I took the shirt apart and upped my budget for this project a little and used the Paparounes on the back as well. I did not scrap the original back piece; however, I just trimmed it into a smaller size and made another shirt, well two more to be exact. I am admitting to this because we all know it happens! And that leads me to my last tip for saving money on fabric that you fall in love with and just have to have.

It is a simple tip, but sometimes a scary one…ASK. Ask if your favorite shop has any remnant cuts that they would sell. Ask if they will give you a discount on price if you order ‘x’ amount of yards. Ask if they would exchange fabric for promotion. I ask everywhere! Fabric stores want fabric to sell, so as long as you are asking for something reasonable and are kind in your approach, the worst that can happen is that they say no. It is worth the try! I hope that you learned something today or at least have a new angle to think about. I would love to hear any tips you have on saving money when purchasing fabrics. Be sure to stick around for the rest of this series! There are going to be many valuable bits of information that can help you stick to your budget and still create beautiful projects! If you want to keep in touch with me, you can find me in our shop, Phat Quarters, blogging at Phat Quarters, on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram. Thanks for visiting with me today!

I’ve definitely used my  most expensive fabric for the smaller sections of the pattern, but today Gemia made it all make even more sense as to why I do this.  Thanks for breaking it down graphically for us! Of course, I’ve also been known to just hang on to those quality fabrics I have purchased because they are so nice and I’m afraid to use them. Do you sew up your most expensive fabric or are you too fearful?
As we round out this week, we’ll hear from Vicky Myers Creations tomorrow for an international perspective on saving money on fabric.

Savings Made by Sewing {Sew Thrifty|} Great tips for saving money and sewing

July 6: Sew Thrifty | July 7: Feather’s Flights | July 8: Mabey She Made It | July 9: Phat Quarters | July 10: Vicky Myers Creations

July 13: Sew Thrifty | July 14: Sew a Straight Line | July 15: House of Estrela | July 16: Sew Straight and Gather | July 17: A Real Life Country Housewife

July 20: Sew Thrifty | July 21: Bernina Representative | July 22: Pretty Practical | July 23: Finn’s Door | July 24: Lulu and Celeste

General Tips:
July 27: Sew Thrifty | July 28: From-a-Box | July 29: Willow & Stitch | July 30: Knot Sew Normal | July 31: Bringing it All Together by Sew Thrifty

3 thoughts on “Savings Made by Sewing {Fabric} with Phat Quarters”

  1. Love the gallon, quart and pint description – really helpful. A Ooohhh moment for me!! Probabaly because I always play safe with only one fabric, its fun to mix and match and means that I can then afford some of the gorgeous print.

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