Monday, August 9, 2010

Sewing on a Budget - Part One: Shopping at Joann's

This is a post I've been thinking about doing for awhile. (I also have been working on it for awhile!)
So I hope you find the 'Sewing on a Budget' series helpful. Feel free to leave comments on things you do to make your crafting dollar go the furthest. I'd love to have a post with reader tips! 
(FYI: I am not saying I am a pro at budgeting or these are the only ways to do so, I am just passing off some things that have worked for me.)

So here we go....

Keeping your hobby in line with your budget, yikes! It's hard not to go crazy with all the fun fabrics, supplies, and ideas out there. However, I think with creativity and planning you can have a fun and practical hobby that you enjoy that and is easy on the wallet. Christmas is also right around the corner and handmade gifts are wonderful but can be expensive if you wait to the last minute. However, if you start to plan now, watch sales, and of course make time to sew or craft, you will enjoy making those handmade gifts much more.

So my first tip for sewing on a budget is....

Shopping at Joann's

Yes.  I know Joann fabrics aren't always the most current and some stores have horrible inventory. Trust me I've seen my share of Joann's; the good and the bad. Even still, I still love shopping there for these reasons:

Coupons & Sales
  • There is always a sale! And if there isn't, use a coupon. I never pay full price for anything. Okay...I may have bought a zipper or two w/out a coupon. ;)
  • I always take a coupon with me. If you don't get Joann emails or mailers go to and sign up. 
  • My favorite sales:
    • Patriotic Sales. Joann's has a sale around every patriotic holiday and they always have the basics on sale.
    • Coupon Commotion. Happens about 3 times a year. It is great because you can use multiple coupons at once. They usually happen in the winter, summer, and fall. 
    • Black Friday. I stock up on a few items at this sale because the prices never are lower. (These have been the prices for the last three years.)
      1. Interfacing, $3.99/10 yard bolt
      2. 72" wide Felt, $1.99/yd
      3. Cotton Flannel, $1.49/yd
    • In my opinion, I feel like from September - January are some of the best sales at Joann's. (Probably because everyone is doing extra crafting/sewing for the Holidays.)
Basic Sewing Supplies & Materials
I stock up on the following items when they are on sale if I need them. I never buy all these items at once, remember this post is about staying on budget. This is how I started to build my sewing supply stash a few years back. I would pick up a few items when they went on sale. Before I knew it, I had a nice supply of basic supplies and fabrics so I didn't have to go to the store for each and every project.
    • thread - About every 4 - 6 weeks it is on sale for 40% - 50% off. I like to always have a big spool of black, cream, and white on hand. Then I get smaller spools of other colors.
    • basic cotton prints {polka dots, stripes, vines, etc} aka 'Keepsake Calicos' - These are almost always on sale for 30% - 40% off. I stock up on my basics when they are on sale so I can get all the fabrics I want at a discount. Of course, if I only need one print and no sale, I use my coupon. 
    • fat quarters - I only buy these when they are on sale for .99 cents each. Otherwise, they are $1.50 each which equals $6.00/yd fabric! Yikes! More than I want to pay for Joann fabric, let alone fat quarter fabric from Joann's because the quality isn't $6.00/yd fabric. (In my opinion.)
    • remnants - I go through the remnants every time I go because they are always 50% off. I've made adorable little girl dresses from remnants because you usually only need a yard or less of fabric.
    • cutting tools - Seem like they are always on sale for 40% - 50% off. You can read more about my favorite cutting tools here.
    • felt yardage or 72" wide felt - Unless I only need the smallest amount of felt, I buy it by the yard. It is far cheaper. Example:
      • One felt sheet is .25 cents and really not a lot of felt.  
      • 1/4 yard of felt at regular price using a coupon costs .75 cents and is a lot of felt!
      • From about September - January felt is super cheap, around $2.99 - $3.99 a yard.
      • interfacing - About every 4 - 6 weeks it is on sale for 50% off. 
      • notions wall - Again, about every 4 - 6 weeks the notions wall is either 50% off or BOGO free. 
    So those are some of the tips I have for shopping at Joann's. Do you have any?

    Check out all the posts in this series.


    1. I really could not agree more! I am a big fan of Joann's and coupons and sales too. I just wait for those coupons to show up in the mail. :)

    2. oh man I have been spending WAY too much on felt! I buy it in the sheets and thanks to your post I will NO longer be doing that! Also, I love the post on cutting tools. So helpful!


    3. Freecycle! Check to see if there is a group in your area and browse the lisings for folks offering any kind of crafting items you might be interested in. So far I've seen people offering clay pots, fabric, ribbon, scrapbooking items, construction paper, baby food jars...all for FREE!

    4. One other thing I forgot - Big Lots/Odd Lots! If you have one of these in your area, check it out. The one I go to usually has a lot of the Martha Stewart supplies steeply discounted. :)

    5. Thanks for the tip about freecycle and big lots!
      You can't replace JoAnns when it comes to the basics, because you can't find it anywhere cheaper. I double up on coupons, meaning I get the mailer and the email, and you can use both every month (for all you hardcore JoAnn shoppers!)
      Also, and you'll probably touch on this later?, but I'm a huge DI/thrift store craft/fabric supply shopper. I have found TONS of great fabric there. Mostly unused, 2-3 yds at time, that someone bought planning to make something, and never did. I also have gotten up to 10 zippers for like $2. And of course I go there for patterns as well, although I'm no stranger to JoAnn's 99 cent pattern sale!

    6. Thanks for all the tips everyone!

      Kim - I am going to check out my local BigLots! I love FreeCycle...such a great idea.

      Also check Craig's List...sometimes people are getting rid of lots of craft supplies.

    7. Thanks for this great article! I just discovered your blog via a "pin" on Pinterest. Now I am a Follower and I look forward to reading your blog regularly!

    8. There's also a (free) Joann's app for anyone with a smart phone so that you never have to remember your coupons again....or you can use them in addition to the mailer, too.

    9. JoAnns also honors coupons from other craft stores. I use my hobby lobby and michaels coupons there as well.

    10. Black Friday weekend (and possibly more as well) they have remnants 75% off; if you pair that with a fabric on sale (like door buster flannel or fleece), you get an absolute steal. Say 1/2 yard on sale for $1.99; 75% off remnant pay .25 . I have so many small pieces of fleece from this. I also made some huge mistakes buying flannel 'just on sale' two years ago and got all kinds of remnants this year to make those "lovelylittlehandmade" magic pillowcases.


    I love comments and questions!

    If you have a question, email me so I have your contact information. My email link is on my left side bar.

    Thanks for reading!


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