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By the Yard: Fun Ways to Not Buy Fabric

Posted by Jen Lopez on May 29th 2019

Train Guy may have been channeling Henny Youngman when he quipped this one-liner, but there are other creative ways to prevent the purchasing of fabric.

1. Sew from Your Stash: Especially useful at holiday gift-giving time, sewing from your stash is a surefire way to not buy fabric. You don’t have to buy the exact fabric you saw online or on Pinterest. Sometimes the coolest, most creative projects are those where you “make do” using the stuff you have. When I was a kid, I never had the option to just go to the fabric store. All my projects were made from scraps from my mom’s various sewing projects. I still remember a stuffed chicken pincushion and scissors-holder I made from some yellow double-knit polyester left over from a pair of pants my mother had made… in all seriousness. Yes, it was the '70s.

2. Swaps: Long before the days of eBay, one of the coolest hauls I ever got was from one of those local “swap” newspapers. Remember the kind where people would advertise “will swap local chicken eggs for weed eater” or other such wacky, nonsensical combos? Even if you didn’t want something, those ads were just fun to read. Some lady gave me a giant pile of 12” fake fur squares she had up in her attic. I think they must have been samples from a coat factory or something. I sewed stuffed animals from that stash for YEARS.

3. Old Clothes, New Source of Fabric: Let’s face it, you are never fitting into those jeans from college. How about that pink-and-orange-plaid shirt you bought but never wore when you were in your “country” phase? Don’t let them sit in your closet—cut them up! This is also a great way to get new textures besides just quilting cottons into your work. The rug-hookers are particularly fond of repurposing out-of-fashion wool garments into strips, a.k.a. “worms,” for hooking.

Finding alternative sources for fabrics is both fun and frugal. Although I still recommend holding hands!

Please join us here every other Wednesday for another fun, fiber-filled installment of By the Yard. You can also find the newest development from By the Yard, the 2020 Wall Calendar for Quilters at, sure to keep you in stitches all year long.

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