We always have to laugh when someone says they started sewing to save money. As anyone who has been sewing for a while knows, it's not exactly a cheap hobby. Quality fabric is expensive and when you are running low on said fabric it seems especially precious. Whether you don't have quite enough fabric for your next project, are trying to make the best use of scraps, or are trying to max out your fabric budget in general, here are some hot tips to squeeze the most juice out of your available yardage.
Efficient Cutting Tips
There are lots of ways to save on fabric when cutting out your project. Try these tips next time you find yourself short or are using a particularly precious textile.
- The best way to save on fabric is to cut on a single layer. You get a much better yield since you can use every square inch. Don't forget to mirror pieces you need to cut two of!
- If you're using a woven with a non-directional print you can generally rotate your pattern pieces 90 degrees when laying out your pattern. The long skinny pieces (like packets and drawstrings) can fit into awkward leftover space from pieces cut on the fold. Note that pieces cut on the cross grain may have a *touch* more stretch than pieces cut on the lengthwise grain.
- Cut non-visible pieces like facings and pockets out of a different fabric – just be sure you use a fabric with a similar weight and drape (ie. don't use a viscose fabric to face a cotton poplin garment or vice versa).
- We put a lot of time and thought into our cutting layouts but you might find we've been a little conservative. If you want to try Tetrising (that's a word right?) it another way you might just be able to make it work! And if it just won't fit...
Colour Blocking or Patchwork
Colour blocking or patchwork doesn't just have to be an emergency solution, but sometimes the greatest designs come from those make-it-work moments! From adding patch pockets in a contrast fabric to a fully patchworked jacket, combining different fabrics is a great way to make a garment from what may otherwise be waste.
The most important thing to consider when combining fabrics is that they both have a similar weight and drape. If you're using denim, for example, choose another sturdy denim, twill or canvas to ensure the seams are equally balanced because, over time, seams will tear along the weaker fabric (trust me, I've lost a lot of quilts this way.)
Another thing to consider when combining fabrics is prints and palettes. Choose different small floral prints all in rayon for example, or linen solids in an ombre gradient. On this stash-busting quilted jacket below, Heather combined different black fabrics that all had a slightly different finish. The result is a subtle tone-on-tone effect that is chic rather than crafty. For this Veronik Robe, she combined two sections of the same border print cotton for a contrast effect. Mixing textures like she did with this Clare Coat with leather sleeves feels both elevated and intentional.
Try and use seam lines when planning out colour-blocking projects. You can download paper dolls of our patterns here if you want to print them out and play with colouring them in.
If You're Thrifty - Cheap Fabric Ideas!
If you're like me, you'd rather save your pennies wherever you can! Thankfully there are tons of ways you can find and use inexpensive fabric that still feels luxurious.
- Try thrifting tablecloths, curtains or sheets. These also make great candidates for all kinds of dyeing projects. Light discolouration can be easily covered with dye but keep in mind most stains will still show after a dye job since it gets darker as well. You can often find very fine cotton and linen with old tablecloths. Check out some of our dyeing tutorials for ideas!
- Shop department and big box store sale sections for sales on cotton and linen sheets, curtains or duvet covers. If they have only a few seams they can be taken apart and used as yardage.
- Remnant sections of fabric stores are a great place to find hidden gems. These little bits can be combined in a patchwork or colour-blocking project if you find yourself with only a small amount.
- Transforming unworn clothes into new garments is not only a fun challenge but a great way to keep waste out of the landfill. Things like old men's wool pants and blazers can be taken apart and cut into new garments when the fabric is high quality but the style is dated. Same with dresses and gowns with a lot of volume that can be cut down to different silhouettes. Check out the Refashioners hashtag for more inspo on these types of projects.
Hope you are feeling inspired to try some of these easy ideas, did we miss anything? What are your tips for saving fabric? Tell us in the comments.