Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Money Saving Tips for the Frugal Stitcher (5/7) - Discounts and Savvy Shopping

Hi everyone!

Okay, so we've learnt by now that we're going to be spending money as sewists. I really don't think that learning to make stuff saves you from consumer culture. It introduces you to a new culture where you need the best/most brand name or limited edition fabrics. Don't forget the fact that we're all basically enablers egging each other on with novelty and beauty (did you see how quickly this fabric sold out after Tilly mentioned it?)

So I'm here to say that buying fabric is fun. There's something exhilarating about the unlimited possibility and inspiration lined up on hundreds of bolts before you. It's just that the $3/yard jersey suddenly doesn't seem such good value if you need to pay $80 to get it shipped to Europe.

So here are a few resources to buy cheap or discounted fabric*
I) Buy online, in independent stores or on Gumtree
The basic idea here is to know you can probably get like-for-like fabrics cheaper in Walthamstow or Goldhawk Road than you can in John Lewis or Liberty. If you're a crafter, you can do some research on name/series to find the lowest cost for a print collection. If you're opportunistic, you can find huge lots available very cheaply on Gumtree (craft and garment). If you're thrifty, you can find the most suitable shops for your needs (les petits riens is incredible for refashioning).

Going to a physical shop is hugely important in the UK, possibly all over Europe. Without Ditto and Brighton Lanes, etc we'd probably have serious problems getting cheap fabric!

A selection from Goldhawk


II) Buy from IKEA
This is especially true for muslin/calico. The prices have gone up but I still walked away recently with 17m calico, at £2/m it's ideal.

III) Be sure of the total cost of your purchase and choose carefully where you buy online
This goes for shipping and taxes but also supplementary discounts and independent vendor maths (rounding up/down). In some cases you might need to look specifically at the cost of research or actually getting to the shop. 

A good example would be one very popular UK online retailer. I really dislike the way they photograph their fabrics and dislike browsing the site for inspiration. However they sell lots of Liberty fabric, almost never listed under the brand and always at a very good price. It's only after sewing bloggers started documenting their finished products from the fabric store that I started taking notice.

If you want to be a proper economist about this, then think about the value and the utility of the fabric and count that as a cost/benefit. Yes you can find a lot of hidden gems, but If you're going to tear your hair out with some shifty chiffon that you'll never wear, it's probably not worth the extra financial cost.

IV) Know where and when to find a discount
Fabric.com, fabricmart, craftsy will always have another sale. Emma One Sock is always running out of fabric, Silhouette Patterns always has a pattern of the month. Girl Charlee has a newsletter and a referral bonus (watch those expiry dates though). It pays to check Spoonflower. Joann's has non-stop coupons.

In Europe, it's a bit less clear-cut but there's still opportunity and discount out there. You've got your Hobby Crafts, your Fabric Lands, your Ranges, you have Fenwicks. Then there's Tia Knight, Stone Fabrics, Abkahan, Shaukat, Fabric Rehab, Backstitch...



V) If all else fails, there's always Etsy and eBay
I don't use Etsy much, but their marketplace search function is really well-suited to this process. If you dig a bit you can definitely find some gems. Dibs mentioned a good designer vendor and I'd like to give a speedy shoutout to my ex-local Zebedee Fabrics too.


VI) Bulk might be better
There are a few shops around (The Lining Company) who offer a lower unit price if you buy in bulk. I'm not telling you to buy 15m fabric in the hope you'll use it (let's face it, you probably won't). But buying in bulk and splitting costs/yardage with other sewists could be a very cost-effective way of getting basics at a good price. If you're a regular social birdie, try it out and you might get a good response!

Mmm, wool


What about you? Any good tips on finding sales, discounts or cheap fabrics?

I think we're done here...
K

*By no means a comprehensive list, but it should be a good starting point for you to make your own resources.

No comments:

Post a Comment