How to Find Cheap Fabric for Sewing Projects
Sewing can be an expensive hobby, and fabric is one of the main causes. Here's a guide to finding cheap fabric for your sewing projects. Sometimes you'll find cheap fabric that's just as nice as full price fabric, and sometimes you'll find pieces that you can experiment on without feeling guilty if you mess up.
I've seen a few posts on finding cheap fabric, so I'll try to add to what's out there without repeating too much, and I've included a list of other fabric-buying guides at the end of this post.
Find Cheap Fabric at Antique Shops
I haven't seen a lot of people mention this one. I think people are afraid that antique shops will be pricey, but I've gotten some of my best hauls from antique stores. You can find cool vintage fabric, sewing machine attachments, and notions. However, stay away from vintage thread because it often degrades over time. I've gotten entire bolts of fabric, lots of sewing notions, multiple yards of fabric, and cool scraps, all for a few dollars each.
This bundle of fabric was only $2!
These were all less than $5 each and were 1 to 3 yards each.
And an entire roll for $8!
Another cool thing that you can look for at antique shops is fabric from old feed and flour sacks. People didn’t waste anything back then, and you wouldn’t just throw away the packaging if it could be used in some way. Manufacturers realized that women were saving the cloth from these sacks to use for clothes and things around the home, so they began to create colorful printed fabric for the sacks. Millions of Americans used to wear clothing made from old feedsacks! I got the lot of fabric below, which had dozens of feedsack fabric remnants, for $30.
I also found some old crazy quilt squares with sugar sack backings! I love finding fabric with a historical background at antique shops and seeing how women of the past used to sew.
Cheap Fabric at Thrift Stores
These are my next favorite places to look for fabric. Salvation Army often has a section with crafts supplies and fabric in their home goods section. They get donations of fabric, but they also cut up unusable clothing/bedding that they receive. These were all only a couple of dollars.
You can also keep an eye out for cool tablecloths, sheets, pillowcases, curtains, and plus size/maternity clothes. These can be cannibalized for other projects, and sometimes you can even keep the hem intact, so some of your work is already done! You can often find pillowcases for as little as a quarter, and you'd be surprised at how many small projects you can get out of a pillowcase.
When you buy used fabric, be sure to wash it right away. If it has a musty smell, try adding a little distilled white vinegar to the wash. Especially with used bedding, you want to carefully wash and dry it in the dryer to avoid any possibility of bed bugs. I've never had a problem with this, but I wash everything as soon as I get it home.
Here are a few more of my thrift store finds, all only a dollar or two each:
You can often find fun vintage prints at thrift stores as well, like the ones below.
Cheap Fabric at Dollar Stores
You won't find large amounts of fabric at the dollar store, but you can get T shirts, tablecloths, curtains, and placemats, which can work well for small sewing projects.
Cheap Fabric at Joann Fabrics
You've probably already got your coupons lined up for Joann Fabrics, but keep an eye out for their bigger sales a few times a year as well. For example, sometimes you can get fat quarters for less than $1 each. Start planning ahead for quilts and holiday sewing projects by stocking up during these sales.
You can also scour the remnants section for smaller pieces (usually less than a yard), which are half price.
Lastly, you have to be careful with this, but some coupons/discounts will stack at Joann Fabrics. When in doubt, check with a sales associate before buying.
Cheap Fabric at Walmart
Some Walmarts have fabric sections, and you can get some really cheap fabric here. The bolts of fabric are generally cheaper than most fabric shops, but they also have discount sections with fabrics they’re no longer carrying or with 1-2 yard remnants. Most of the pieces below were $2 per yard or less!
Cheap Fabric from Ebay
You can often get some good deals on fabric on Ebay, but sometimes you have to wait for your items to ship from another country. I’ve had good luck with purchases from China and India, and honestly, it’s often the exact same items that are for sale in other people’s shops—you’re just buying it directly from the source, rather than from someone reselling it.
I bought a bunch of silk sari scraps on Ebay a while ago, and I got a wonderful variety of colors, prints, and types of silk. The seller I bought from doesn’t seem to be selling anymore, but you can still find a bunch of silk sari remnant fabric on Ebay. I made one of my favorite infinity scarves with this haul!
I bought a bunch of lace trim from the seller Legend of Handmade on Ebay, and it’s all gorgeous! The laces are all a couple of dollars a yard or less, and the quality is really good. It took a few weeks to arrive from China, but it’s worth the wait.
Cheap Fabric from Amazon
Amazon is a little hit-or-miss on fabric, but you can find some good deals. I like to get scrap bags on Amazon, which are basically just random grab bags.
I got these Moda scrap bags, which each feature a certain fabric collection, but you can’t choose what collection you’ll get. One was holiday/winter-themed, but I’m sure I can use it to make gift bags or something. I like the bright, floral fabrics on the left.
I got this leather scrap bag, which had some decent-sized pieces to work with, and it worked well for some of my beginner leatherworking projects.
Want More Budget Sewing Tips?
See my post on how to start sewing for free!
And my post on finding the best vintage sewing machine. You can often find vintage sewing machines at thrift stores and antique shops for $20 or less!
Here are a few more useful guides with information on buying cheap fabric or craft supplies:
Post updated 1/13/19.