Frugal Crafting: How I Get Craft Supplies And Fabric For Free Or Cheap

May 20, 2014

Once upon a time, crafting was frugal.  Handmade gifts not only had more heart, but they also saved you some cash.    Of course, this was in the days before things were made for cheap in China and sold at a (sometimes) loss at big box stores like WalMart and Target.

Like many things that have changed over the years, crafting is no longer a necessity, but a luxury- a luxury of time and money.  There’s no other reason that giant warehouses are dedicated to crafting and sewing (as opposed to being a small segment of a department or dry good store)- it makes money. Like, lots of it.

If any of us have entered a JoAnn’s or Michaels in the last decade intending to just buy a bag of buttons and left with a cart full of holiday scrapbooking paper, Martha Stewart glitter, fifty skeins of merino wool and an assortment of other goodies that are more “art and fun” than “necessity,” we know it’s an expensive venture.

Handmade gifts are still extra special to make or receive- but it’s no longer cheaper than buying something premade from the store (well, rarely!)  so you have to be smarter about your purchases to ensure you get what you need and save as much money as you can on craft supplies.

If you want to get craft supplies for cheap or free, read on.

Tip 1- Use Fabric That’s Not Sold On A Bolt

Isn’t the wall of fabrics in a craft store the most gorgeous thing you’ve laid eyes on?  So many fun patterns, colors and textures…also a lot of markups!

To save money- repurpose fabric from other sources.  You can find sheets, duvet covers, table cloths, curtains and placemats on clearance you just have to reimagine them…best of all, some of them already have a hem or buttons you can work off of.

 

Tip 2- Buy Your Fabric In Bulk To Save

If you do have a very specific project in mind and need fabric that won’t be sold as remnants, you can save cash by shopping in bulk. One of my favorite sites to do this is Fabric.com that offers 5% discounts for 2-14 yards, 15% off for 15-34 yards and 20% off for orders of 35+ yards.

Fabric.com is great because they offer a lot of character prints and very trendy pieces- not just plain cottons or synthetics.  They also offer notions and patterns, so you can get just about everything you need for a project in one order.

Tip 3-  Cash Back On Your Purchases With Ebates

If you are not using Ebates now, it’s a great way to get money back on your favorite shops.  There truly are times you can’t cut corners and need to get certain craft supplies that may or may not be on sale. It is one of the easiest and well-known ways to save cash when shopping online.  You get money back for shopping at tons of retailers, including some craft stores.

Plus, you can also get a bonus for signing up.  So- regardless if Michael’s has a sale or not, you can stack the savings by using a service like Ebates to get cash back on your craft supplies.

Tip 4- Save On Craft Supplies Using Amazon

I heart craft shopping on Amazon, I can just put stuff in my cart when I remember it and batch orders.  Whenever I have to place an order and need to meet the free shipping minimum (for those of us without Prime), I will stock up on craft supplies I go through pretty regularly… knock-off ink cartridges, glitter, cardstock and washi tape.

I also usually will throw in things I know I’ll need for craft projects later or don’t feel like carrying home from the store, like shoebox tuppers, mason jars and paint pens.

 

Tip 5- Saving With Daily Deal Sites

One of my favorite sites to get craft supplies is Zulily.  Seriously- they regularly have craft room organizational supplies, Martha Stewart crafts, Cricut, Canon and other odds and ends to restock or reorganize with.  Plus, you get free shipping on as many orders as you want (if you notice something later in the day) until midnight.

So usually, I’ll see that Martha Stewart craft supplies are up that day, and I’ll also get a few baby shower gifts, and a few stocking stuffers to stock up on for the holidays.  I love that I can get sports shirts for my dad, workout gear for me, and craft supplies on one site with some of my favorite brands. It’s exciting that you never know what you’ll find.

Additionally, your local yarn shops might have deals on sites like Groupon.  In my city, I’ve found stellar deals with our local quilting shops for classes and also some of those fun “sip and sew” classes to sign up for with friends.  These make great gifts or to keep on hand when you want to enjoy them!

Tip 6- Upcycling With Ordinary Items

If you’re new to sewing, you may need to follow patterns and start with regular ol’ fabric.  If you’re a bit more experienced, you can upcycle.  If you’re a fan of garage sales and thrift stores, you can upcycle with little risk.  Denim from jeans is a great medium to make into skirts, purses, cosmetics bags and aprons.

Holiday decor (think sparkly tablecloths or tree skirts) can be repurposed into princess costumes for the little ones… (Elsa from Frozen anyone?  I saw a ton of great holiday decor that could have made awesome Frozen costumes for little ones this year!)

Tip 7- Their Trash Is Your Treasure

How many of us bought craft supplies we don’t need?  Yes, all of us.  When we remodel or relocate, we want our sparkles and baubles to go to a good home.  Do a quick search of Freecycle, Craigslist or Ebay for the biggest scores.  Usually, people unload craft supplies and fabric in mass here.  Sometimes, you may just have to pay shipping, other times, it’s free!

Honestly, you can find lots of stuff (I mean “lots” as in groupings sold as such, not just oodles) that include complete kits to quilt with, matching skeins of yarn from the same dye lot, or of course, just oodles and oodles of beads.  When people discover they no longer like knitting or buying the entire aisle of needlepoint supplies, they may want to get rid of it en masse.  We’ve all been there- chances are you can score these craft supplies or fabric for cheap or free.

 

Tip 8 – Get Craft Supplies From Garage Sales & Thrift Stores

This one explains itself, and is a good option if you have time to spend (you know, time that you won’t be crafting) and you never know what you’ll find.  I’ve had better luck with garage sales for craft supplies. Usually, someone’s moving and needs to unload a giant tupper full of yarns, fabric, glitter and supplies all at once so you can snag a hodge podge of awesome for cheap.

Garage sales are a bit better for groups of stuff- giant bins of matching yarn, near full bolts of fabric.  Thrift stores, depending on how well they’re organized might be better for one-off stuff, like random assortments,but work well if you need random vintage buttons you can buy in a bag for $1 or those interesting little bits of surplus lace.

Tip 9 – Start Your Own Etsy Store

While most of us love to shop Etsy to get truly unique craft supplies, have you ever considered starting you won Etsy store?

This one is a bit more involved than using an app or asking around, but starting a shop can help you acquire new skills, save money and even earn some side hustle cash.  Starting your own Etsy store will take some research, but if you need supplies you use regularly- why not buy in bulk and sell what you don’t need?

Starting a side hustle can bring in some income, be a tax write off and also save you cash on the supplies you use the most frequently.  In the past I’ve sold some of my bulk supplies on Ebay or to friends, but scaling up to a full-fledged shop will help you take advantage of the steepest bulk discounts and also could be a fabulous passion project even if you work full time and have other things going on!

Tip 10 – Get Craft Supplies From People You Know

Many times, when I’ve needed something, I’ve posted a simple status update on Facebook or searched local Facebook groups for things.  “Buy Nothing” groups are great for this!

Chances are, someone out there has stuff to unload and they’ve held onto it because they wanted to give it a good home- like that adorable stack of fat quarters they bought to make a baby quilt and the baby is now entering grade school.  They feel the fabric was too expensive and nice to simply throw away or donate to a stranger, they’d rather give it to a friend- that friend, my friends, is you. Simply ask!

 

 

 

Frugal Crafting- How I Get Craft Supplies And Fabric For Free Or Cheap

 

 

27 comments so far.

27 responses to “Frugal Crafting: How I Get Craft Supplies And Fabric For Free Or Cheap”

  1. Ashley says:

    I remember when I was younger and I would sew skirts,dresses, with my grandmas because I love it and wanted to be like them. Who, made amazing halloween costumes for me, pjs,etc. They totally rocked at it. Now that we are trying to make our house on base a little more homey… I run away from the hobby stores! SO expensive! I tend to hit up the super etsy-fied momma’s that are moving from this base, they sell so much for like 5 dollars 😉

  2. Very cool! I have crafted a lot of my wedding, but have found that buying the supplies for those crafts can be expensive as hell too! Great tips!

  3. Elizabeth says:

    I’ve found some beautiful beads at yard sales and I repurpose any old jewelry I buy second hand. I’ve also been fortunate enough to find yards of fabric at thrift stores all you have to do is think outside the big craft stores.

  4. Jasneet Sethi says:

    This was very helpful. I was wondering if anyone who is viewing this has any supplies to donate to me. We are very low on money, but I am very passionate about sewing and making crafts. I’d you can please donate you can email me at jasneetos28@outlook.com or you can send materials to

    Jasneet Sethi
    1159 Spicewood Pines Rd.
    Fort Mill, SC 29708

  5. Laura says:

    I do every single one of these steps. It’s great! Who cares if the fabric is out of date/out of style- if you’re using it to make doll clothes, helping your kids to learn how to sew, need something for making patterns before using the “good” fabric, or quilting with little tiny pieces. It all works. Also, scope out your local dollar store. Often they have some very interesting finds and you can’t beat the price.

    • Shannyn says:

      Thanks for the tip on the dollar store! All great points.

    • Melissa says:

      I am making hats, scarves for those who are in need this winter,
      If you have any yarn you can donate, it would be greatly appreciated.
      I am mostly looking for super chunky yarn #6 or higher. But, I will take all sizes to make embellishments, and add to designs.
      If you have any please contact me at melissapearson@mail.com
      Thank you.

  6. Savanna says:

    Hi all!! I was searching for really cheap stuff/free because I am going to make a lot of junk journals for the local shelter. If anyone could possibly donate items, that would be amazing. Here is a list of some items that I could use. If you have any, please email me at, savanna.gulledge1234@gmail.com thanks soooooooooooooooo much!!!!!!!! If you would like to see some of the pages I have made please email me and I can send you pictures!
    Items I could use:

    Scrapbooking scraps

    Buttons

    Any and ALL scrap paper

    Card board such as cereal boxes and such 4 by 6 is a perfered size, but can work with most all

    Any die cuts of the left over area once you cut one

    Card stock any color any size any design

    Copy paper any color

    Markers or pens of any kind or size

    Glue sticks

    Glitter glue sticks or any kind of glitter glue

    Any and ALL postcards( these are one of my most-wanted items)

    Any junk mail

    Buttons any and all

    Any and all paper buttons

    Any and all yarn scraps or full

    Ribbons any and all scraps or full

    Washi tape or duck tape/decorative tapes
    any and all scraps or full

    Any and all cords, stings, such full or scraps

    Any and all ink color doesn’t matter

    Any stamps you don’t really want

    Blank greeting cards with evelopes

    Glues/adhesives or any kind. I really like the Elmer’s craft glue sticks, but will take anything.

    Any hole punches

    Any gifts cards to craft store or Walmart so I can get supplies

    Anything else that can be put in a positive smash book!!!

    Thanks!!!!

  7. Stacy Crosby says:

    Awesome points, I pretty much do all of these: I absolutely love thrift stores, I just recently made up a new term “ThriftLifting” when you find such great deals at thrift stores you feel like you stole them! : ) I also buy jeans(really cheap) from thrift stores and upcycle them.

    Trash to Treasure example: I was just recently at the dentist and the hygienist was talking about how she has a garage full of clothing and such that she is going to go through and get rid of. I asked her if she had any jeans or girls clothing, I would take it off of her hands. She was gladly accepted!

  8. there are so many ways to save a buck without sacrificing quality. I talk about this all the time.

  9. I think Garage Sales are probably the best place to get good bargains for crafts and repurposing. I can usually always find things if I take the time to go to them. As you said, I would rather be doing the crafting!

    Unless you live in a larger city, your Freecycle can be pretty lean. Ours only has two things listed right now, neither one having to do with crafts. =)

    I would like to come to your Thrift shop that sells a bag of buttons for only $1. Unfortunately, many of the places like Goodwill, .and others, have figured out they can get more for those things now than they used to get. It is most likely more like $3 or $4 for that baggie but it is still less than buying new in the store.

    Thanks for all of the great information!

  10. Kim says:

    Great info in your blog. I would like to add a few other materials sources, although some may be regional.
    In the deep south (MS, AL, LA) we have stores that buy what is left when a store closed, or when there is a fire, tornado, or hurricane. They buy everything from clothes to rugs, furniture, household goods, craft items, and more for pennies on the dollar and pass the savings on to customers. I wait until items are 80 – 90% off the lowest marketed price. The uses are endless.
    My other favorite sources are from friends getting ready to have a garage sale. Look for friends that have teen kids for a more varied inventory. Love buying sweaters for pillows or stockings.

  11. mandy cat says:

    When looking for fabric, don’t overlook shower curtains. The standard size is 72″ x 72″ which is plenty big enough for a number of projects. I made a gorgeous table topper for $10.00 when some manufacturer tragically overestimated the consumer demand for shower curtains made of dry clean only material.

  12. Thank you so much for sharing this information. I am in the UK, but much of this still applies. I find old curtains, etc. at charity shops and car boots. I love up cycling!

  13. Lane says:

    How about some sites in Australia, NSW or QLD to be precise. Thank you. I am new at these crafty things. Have just bought my beaut’ new machine and want to try quilting, needs some fabrics. I have bought sheets and duvet covers but they are very thin and Fray a lot. All donations would be very welcome. Thank you again.

  14. mallory says:

    Preach it girl! Craft supplies, though cuter and more abundant than ever, are so so expensive. I love DIY projects but almost surrendered the hobby because of the exorbitant prices. And, like you, I decided to figure ways to beat the system, primarily through Ebay and Goodwill stores. I really want one of those Silhouette Cameo machines and I don’t know if I can cash in on a bargain on one of those. But a girl can always hope. ADORE your blog!

    xo
    Mallory
    @mischievousmal

  15. Angela says:

    I get craft items from a dollar store or big lots for cheap. I also find a lot of craft items and lots of items from this auction like site call Listia you can get a lot of items there for free but may have to pay of shipping depending on the seller. You bid on items with points you get by doing different tasks like watching videos and fill out surveys. You can also post your unwanted items for points. You need a Listia verified address and need to read post and reviews of sellers there carefully as there are some scamers there but it is a great site for getting items for free crafting items and otherwise.

  16. Amy says:

    Letgo app is AWESOME

  17. Amanda says:

    this is a great article. Unfortunately i live in a small town in vermont so theres not many options for getting craft supplies. Do any of you happen to have any craft supplies you are looking to unload? I would be happy to use them in my projects. I do all sorts of crafts. Please let me know. email me at iliketocraft95@yahoo.com anything would help

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