Friday, 29 January 2016

Sewing On a Budget

Sewing is expensive, Yep I've said it. Contrary to popular belief sewing is not a cheap hobby. It used to be don't get me wrong, when our grandmas were doing it, it was cheaper much cheaper... but now? Now its one of the most expensive addictions you can have, yes I said addictions, just like alcohol or heroin, only sewing's a lot healthier and a lot more addictive.

As someone with a family and bills and all the other junk that comes along with having adult responsibilities I don't have a fortune to spend on sewing. In fact I don't even have a budget. 

So here's my top tips for sewing with a small/non existent budget:

1. Embrace sewing-
Shout it from the dammed rooftops!!!! "I sew talk to me about sewing! Tell me your wisdom! Keep me in mind if your having a clear out!" I can't tell you how many times I've received sewing stuff just because people know that I sew, I've had buttons from neighbours, curtains from my mother in law, and I've had two! count them TWO! bolts of fabric given to me! Just because people thought, oh Frankie sews she might like that.

This dress was made using fabric given to me for free by a friend, and the buttons are from ine of my mums neighbours!

2. Embrace home wares-

Have you ever actually considered how much fabric is in a duvet set? or say in curtains? And how awesome some of the prints are? And how cheap they can be? Charity shops have hoards of duvets and curtains going for a pittance and if your just starting out its a hell of a lot cheaper than buying fabric. 

This pinafore was made from my mother in laws curtains, and I've already got my eye on the curtains in my mothers living room, just as soon as she gets around to redecorating. I've even told my brother to keep me in mind for when he decorates his kids rooms, I mean who doesn't want a dalmatian print dress?

3. With regards to getting a machine-

Ask around, you would be surprised how many people have one sat in a corner. One of my machines came from my partners aunty, she moved house and decided she didn't need it and i got it! Its a fantastic machine! I mean seriously its great! and if nobody you know has one for lends or keeps then you can get some great deals at places like lidl and aldi. My first machine was from aldi and boy it was loud but it got the job done! And now my sister has it. Its the circle of sewing machine life.

4. Harvest your clothes - 

Sewing is about so much more than just having fabric, you need buttons and zips and ribbon and lace and all kinds of crap! You know where you can find these things for free? on old clothes that your going to bin. Buttons on shirts, ribbons in clothes, patches, ZIPS! I always unpick zips off clothes even the short stumpy ones in jeans! There is a whole haberdashery waiting t be found in your throw away pile you just need some patience and a good seam ripper! although its quicker to remove buttons with a sharp knife! 

5. Harvest your clothes some more!

This time for fabric! you can either re cut the pieces or you can refashion them! You'd be surprised how much fabric is in clothes, things like maxi dresses and sarongs are my favourites to use as fabric because there's loads of fabric! but I've also made corsets from jeans and this dress which was completely free!

corset material - off cut from my bridesmaid dress - free
skirt material - bedsheets that mother in law didn't want - free
slip - [not handmade but second hand]
back zip - removed from one of my partners old hoodies - free
straps - from an old ann summers bra that I paid a small fortune for - free [and glad I got my monies worth!]

6. Buy the basics-

Sometimes people have an old pair of scissors and often people get rid of thread but there are some pretty decent deals out there too! I love hobbycraft value thread and I've never had any issues with it, the colours are basic but for a pound who's complaining! I also love their value fabric scissors, I live in a house with a idiot male at some point he's going to pick up my scissors and cut paper with them. It is pointless me having an expensive pair! and these are pretty sharp for the price!  

7. Pick your patterns carefully-

I know a lot of people like to hoard patterns but when your on a budget its just not a viable option, especially with patterns coming in at the £8.00 mark.  Instead I love books that come with patterns like the two gbsb books or love at first stitch. I tend to think if you have a few basic patterns you very rarely need anything else. my most used patterns are the lilou bodice block, my princess seam bodice block, my cropped jacket and my pencil skirt pattern. I very rarely use a pattern at all for full skirted looks instead I just mark dimensions on the fabric. It can even be used for copying ready to wear outfits, just make a note of all the features like pleats, pockets and what the bodice is like and you wont need a whole new pattern. And there's a whole load of free patterns online! literally just a click away! Aswell as the awesome patterns that sometimes come free with magazines and online magazines! 

8. Embrace Polycotton

Polycotton is one of the cheapest fabrics around and it gets a bad rep. I personally love! It wears well, It washes well and it irons well! What more could you actually want? 
Its also great for starting out because you don't feel too bad if you make a mistake! Minerva crafts have a fantastic line of polycottons in some great prints! 

9. Buy By weight! 

abakhans have a great buy by weight system in their stores and you can get some real bargains! This dress was brought by weight and its still holding up and in wardrobe rotation it also pushed me to work with a fabric I hadn't tried before.

10. Birthdays and Christmas!

Its a hobby so its perfectly acceptable to ask for vouchers as a birthday or chistmas present, I have a lovely friend who always buys me a hobbycraft voucher for my birthday and my mum always put money aside for me to go fabric shopping with aswell! 

I tend to think you know its a hobby and not just a fad when your willing to have your birthday spends go on it! I once thought I might take up running as a hobby until someone offered to buy me a sports bra for Christmas! eww no thanks I'd rather have fabric! 

Much Love

A very thrifty frankie





  1. You can find some super patterns in charity shops sometimes. I have been wanting a mandarin style jacket for a while and found a lovely Vogue pattern for one, totally unused!!! For £1 !!! Only trouble is I still haven't got round to making it !!!!

    1. charity shops are very good for patterns although my friend works in one and says quite a lot of sewing patterns are thrown away because they don't sell. x

  2. Thanks for the sewing machine :) I even used it last week, I've got a technical question about it. I'll send you a message plus a picture of my progress! Xxx

    1. your welcome! if i ever get around to buying the £1000 one i really really want you can have a new one! x


Go On Make Me Smile And Leave Me A Comment!
You can also reach me at!