How To Get Cheap Or Free Fabrics – Unconventional Yet Useful Tips

Who doesn’t love saving some money right? With how things are going nowadays with global regression and everything, everyone (at least everyone that I know) is trying to cut cost wherever and whenever they can.

That being said, many are compromising the hobbies they love because they are concerned about the expenses. Luckily for us who love to sew, that can be avoided.

Here are some ideas on how to get cheap or free fabrics.

how to get cheap or free fabrics

Repurpose A Fabric 

Beddings/ Bedsheets – What’s great about using bed sheets is that aside from you probably already have an unused one in your top (or bottom) drawer, they are also a time saver. As long as you plan everything right, you wouldn’t have to sew hems and/ or seams.

Pillowcases – You can probably get one for a few cents on year-end sale and it wouldn’t hurt to buy a few even if you don’t really need new pillowcases yet. These pillowcases can be made into nightgowns or summer tops for your little ones.

Tablecloths – These wide fabrics can be made into almost anything. The next time you get a stain on one of your tablecloths, don’t just throw them away, get creative and think of what project you can do after cutting away the stained part.

Curtains – Same idea as the bedsheet really, take advantage of the sewed edges and the wide fabric.

Be Creative And Recycle 

Some unwanted clothes can be made into a new piece of clothing. You can turn a skirt into a girls dress for example. My daughter once turned an old pair of leggings into a long-sleeved crop top. Just let your creativity flow. There are endless possibilities. 

Check out this article for creative ways to recycle denim.  

101 Creative Ideas to Recycle Denim Jeans

And this article about ways to upcycle old t-shirts.

100+ Ways to Upcycle and Recycle Old T-Shirts

Social Network

You know the free and wanted section? You can ask for fabrics that others don't want anymore. The same goes for your local freecycle community. You can even directly ask your family members, friends or your church congregation. Just let them know what type of fabric you need and most likely they’ll be happy to get rid of those they have no longer use for.

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26 Responses to How To Get Cheap Or Free Fabrics – Unconventional Yet Useful Tips

  1. Joy Mohr says:

    A few years ago the tops with wide lace or ruffle at the bottom were popular. I loved that your bum was hidden! Several of my tops were not tunic length & I wanted to add a ruffle or lace. Went to, found window valances in the colors I needed, $5. When they arrived they were DOUBLE valances! So I made mini skirts (2 from each valance, gave 1 away), and could wear them under any of my tops. Being synthetic fabric the stretchy knit tops hung beautifully over them, never needing to be tugged down! I knew this style was a “fad” so wearing them for a season or two was fine at $3 each!
    I could probably have found valances at a thrift store but finding them so quickly

  2. Tam says:

    Global regression? Everyone I know and every area I or my family and friends live is booming like crazy. And that’s great news! We’re actually putting some money back for a change! Which is all the more reason to save on fabric!! Yes!

  3. Susan Sicard says:

    I find it exciting to see where I can find material and accessories at the least expensive prices. I use sheets, and lots of clothing that I have cut apart We have “Drop and Swap” in our area where people bring their good used clothing and bedding and someone else can take what they want for a coupe of dollars for a large garbage bag full. It is sad to see the wastefulness in our country but on the other hand for a material addict like I am, it is a field day. For less than $5. I was able to get 3 large garbage bags of “material. i used lots of placemats when I was making purses and made the pockets in them from cloth napkins. So many ways to recycle My only suggestion is to be careful about buying thread. Better to pay more for that. I have used shower curtains, window curtains, pillowcases, and tablecloths too. Lots of great material in them all.

  4. Sandy says:

    I have made some skirts recently from dresses purchased at a Goodwill store. Several have complemented me on them

  5. Nancy Hunt says:

    Nancy II … I used a $2 thrift store gingham blue tablecloth to make a set of 4 placemats with 4 matching coasters for my dining table.

  6. Shan says:

    I have used flat sheets for larger quilt backs. They work find if they are 100% cotton and not a super high thread count. For me at least, the high thread count ones are so tight that I get skipped stitches (no matter the needle/thread). OTOH, a lower thread count seems to mesh well with quilting fabric. I don’t bother to prewash if I have not prewashed the top fabric. Cotton/poly sheets probably require topper fabric to be prewashed since they don’t shrink like cotton. Also something to consider is combining not washed quilting fabric and washed sheets for your piecing: The quilting fabric will shrink more. So wash it all before making your beautiful quilt.

    Flannel sheets are terrific for backers. Prewash them. They make excellent backers for children’s quilts and quilts for elderly folks. They stick to clothes more readily.

    On another topic: I steal all hardware off clothes, handbags… the lining from clothing, old jewelry beading and hardware. When I sandwich my quilts all fabric and batting that gets hacked off after quilting goes into my scrap bag and gets reused. You can seam batting together with fusible tape. No lumps. (Thank you Debbie Jeske (a quilters table) for that handy tip!)

  7. Mom2-4 says:

    I made my daughter’s wedding dress using recycled lace linens and trims. She wanted a Boho look, and it came out beautiful!

  8. Jen Von Dutch says:

    I often use old bed sheets as fabric for mock ups and sewing experiments.

  9. jeanniecat says:

    Think garage sales, thrift shops or even the free table at your quilters guild.

  10. Betty says:

    I recently made a maxi skirt out of curtains, complete with a ruffle on the bottom hem. It makes me smile every time I wear it!

  11. Starr says:

    Not 100% free, but I scour thrift shops for stretch jeans to salvage the fabric for swimwear, embellishments off jackets, old jewelry for the same. It’s fun, and an evening spent with a seam ripper, watching a movie, is time well spent.

  12. Ruby says:

    Jumble sales (US = Rummage sales) I made my small boys jeans from adult sized ones many years ago. Leg warmers from old sweaters. XL sized clothes are best, they have more fabric in them. Also Charity shops (US = Thrift/goodwill) shops often throw away anything they cannot sell for a good price. Hole in the knee, torn seam in dress sort of thing. Leave your name with them and ask them to keep whatever they would normally send to ‘salvage’ and pop in a few days later and see if they have anything. I did this when I was making fiddle (sensory) mats, and got loads of really good bits of fur, sequins, buttons, ribbons etc.

  13. Tee says:

    If anyone who lives around NYC, hosts 2.5 hour fabric sorting sessions, then you get to take home 5 lbs of fabric! They work with local designers to take their unwanted fabric rolls to sell at their warehouse and shop.

  14. Holley says:

    Here in the Twin Cities, Mn we have the textile center garage sale once or twice a year. There are great prices on fabrics, yarn and all kinds of other things.

  15. Mrs. Cross says:

    I have stitched my favorite old t-shirts together to make a quilt. My old pillow cases are used to cover my sewing machines and serger. I recommend bringing old sheets to my sewing classes. This article made me think of another use: using sheets instead of buying muslin to make my mock-up. These are usually available for less at thrift stores, where I donate the sheet sets that are in good condition.

  16. Garage sales – look for sheets, tablecloths, curtains, or XXX large clothing items. Same at thrift stores. Swap clothing or fabric with your friends. At work I asked my co-workers for any fabric they didn’t want to use and received some nice pieces.

  17. Donna F says:

    I wish you had gone into more details. More details when to Upcycle and when not to. Using a bed sheet as a backing of quilt is not a good idea. Using old shower curtain for lining of food bags is not a good idea. When sewing for the “poor” please don’t give them your leftover; your cast off. Just think before doing. Happy Creating

    • Sue says:

      There are a lot of success stories on this page of comments! Each idea has worked for them! Remember, not all may work for everyone, but criticism puts a shadow of negative! Life’s too short. Enjoy the moments You create & respect everyone’s moments too!

  18. Karen Stewart says:

    I am constantly reusing fabric from sheets to clothes no longer worn, I recall that as a small child (my mum had 6 children by the time she was 26, all close together) Mum would get us older girls to plait the rags for rugs and all other sorts of things. We lived in Zambia and things like new clothes, sweets, chocolate were only in Lusaka which was a 2 day trip once every 2 months…coming to England was like walking into the Hansel and Gretel story, we had never seen so many sweets lol.
    So recycling for me is second nature.

  19. Debbie Guastella says:

    Wish has inexpensive fabric

  20. Sandhya Karandikar says:

    This is very true. In India we recycle or repurpose many clothing pieces. Rags for dusting, swabbing is common. Making bathmats or door mats from old towels and bedsheets. Using old saris to make quilts and swaddle cloths is very common.

  21. Nancy says:

    Sometimes my girls wear embarrassed because I use pillowcases, sheets and curtains for their little dresses when they were small we’re talking 40 years ago. My most favorite item though, that I have sewn in 50 years was my wedding dress made out of a bed sheet and German lace curtains and everyone wondered where I had bought it from. When my husband told them that I had made it there were astonished.

    • Lili says:

      Simply amazing Nancy. I think of the times I was embarrassed to wear what my mom made us and now I have her sewing machine…without her resourcefulness to make things useful.

    • Cathie says:

      Makes me think of the Carol Burnett sketch, the parody of “Gone with the Wind,” where she comes down the stairs in a green dress fashioned from window curtains. 😉

  22. Patricia C Meek says:

    Thank you for refresh my mind, ha… I was think like that sheet into something… but forgot all about it like over head… So glad your information does help me to again refresh my mind, Ha! The reason is I want to help the poor who do not have no money this is good start give sheet to them so they can have it some what they need it to create it my business is for the people.. Name is … “Evaluation of Education Neothink Handcraft Mini Class” I have total the Class 12… Well, Many Thanks!

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