What projects have I “splurged” on this year so far?

The recent Love To Sew podcast on the finances of sewing got me thinking about how I choose to spend my fabric budget. Basically, I sew so prolifically that most fabric I sew is $7/m or less. but sometimes I do spend more, and I thought it might be interesting to look back at my posts from this year and try to figure out what makes me plonk down more cash!

But first of all, a bit of background on where I shop. I do 80% of my fabric shopping at Fabricland chain stores in neighbouring cities when they have a big sale on, plus a lot of what I buy is from the ends table where they have deadstock fabric. If I don’t have time to drive an hour to a Fabricland, I head to the only fabric store in my city, which is a discount warehouse chain called Len’s Mill. They sell clothes, housewares, food and have a fabric section at the back. Everything is covered in dust, but sometimes there are some gems! I get fabric sent to me every quarter by Cali Fabrics in return for blogging, and other than that, I put the occasional online order in from Club Tissus in Quebec. I used to order from the USA, but the exchange rate, shipping and customs fees make that pretty prohibitive now! For Canada, I’d say $10/m is the low end of average price for fabric – $5/m is cheap, $15/m is reasonable for good quality, and $20+ is common for nice fabrics or indie stores.

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I fell in love with this beefy rayon blend jersey from my local Len’s Mill, and bought it in blue, this wine colour, and lots of grey to make underwear for my husband! I think it was about $13/m, and it’s worth it.

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Technically I sewed these in 2017 – does it still count? I bought this activewear fabric for leggings in three colours from Len’s Mills, and used it to compare the Avery, Espresso, and Belmont leggings! It was also around $13/m, and worth it because it’s opaque, smoothing, and wears well.

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This Fantastic Four hoodie was a birthday gift for my husband, and it came to about $100 in fabrics from Canadian online store L’Oiseau. The blue dye from the fabric did bleed a bit onto the embroidered patch when he first wore it, even though it had all been prewashed… and now I think he is nervous to wear it. We made a deal that we’ll buy another patch as backup incase he wears it and it gets ruined! He takes his fandom seriously!

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Shall we talk about sweater knits? There is nothing better than a rayon sweaterknit, in my mind, and this oxblood sweater knit from my localish indie store, Spool and Spindle, is GORGEOUS. I actually got this colourway as a gift, but loved it so much I went and spent $20/m on the teal. I do weaar cardigans like this a lot in winter, so I hope the cost per wear isn’t high.

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It wasn’t really my project, but supplies for my Dad’s hammock under quilt definitely cost more the $10/m! But it was half the cost of buying a custom one, and not freezing while on long hikes seems a good investment!

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More Len’s Mill goodness! This pink wool knit seemed too expensive at $12/m the first time I saw it… but weeks later I was still thinking of it, so I bought enough for this Berlin coat! Worthwhile, I think, even though I made it just as the last of the chilly weather was ending this spring!

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Deep stash alert! I bought this rayon knit from Blackbird Fabric years ago, and it was definitely more than $10/m. I’m happy to have finally sewn it up though, and it’s been so long since I spent the money that it seems free!

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The black scuba mesh from Club Tissus was $12.75/m, and I only needed 1m for this skirt, so I think it’s worth it for a unique skirt!

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Finally, I think this stretch denim from Len’s Mill (aka. the only place I can shop in a rush when pattern testing) was about $12/m. Worth it, because I’ve worn the dress a bunch of times and always felt great in it!

So there you have it – apparently I spend more than $10/m about once a month, usually when a project requires a specific fabric or I find something high quality locally. I notice that most of the time my “pricey” fabric is still only about $13/m, and very rarely more. Happily, I don’t regret any of my more expensive projects this year, so I guess I spent well!

The thing is, I still spend a LOT on fabric. I definitely spent at least $150 per month, and I’m pretty sure that I spend closer to $200 often enough. (I’m working on bringing that down  though.) By contrast, I spend $10 or less on patterns each month, and try to get most of my new patterns by pattern testing. I sew about 10-25m of fabric a month, so my stash grows very slowly. At least a quarter of what I sew is for other people, and I give it to them as a gift of love.

I think there is no “right” way to spend your sewing budget, no matter how large or small it is. Some people like to buy less and of high quality, some people can’t afford  much of anything, and some people like me are lucky enough to like sewing and wearing fabrics that are affordable, like ITY knits! I know I’m privileged to have fabric stores that I can visit within an hour, so I don’t have to rely on online shopping.

It feels kinda funny putting my fabric budget in numbers on the blog, and focusing on the price of my creations… but let’s be honest, consumerism and spending is part of every sewing project! Anyone reading my blog can see that a lot of fabric is passing through my hands, and frankly, I think I’m spending less than an observer might guess!

I’m curious: How often do you spend more than $10CAD/$7.50USD/$6.65Euro? Sometimes, rarely, often? Is that price a bargain or expensive in context of the price of fabric in your country?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!


70 thoughts on “What projects have I “splurged” on this year so far?

  1. Interesting. Also interesting that you consider more than £7/m to be splurging. I am spoiled because I have brilliant markets near me, and for most purposes can find fabrics very easily at £4-£6/m [got some lovely pontes just yesterday] I also can pick up all sorts of cheap goodies from the sales tables at £1 or £2 per metre. If I want something though, I’ll buy it, and I’m often tempted by lovely prints that LOOK cheap but turn out to be priced per HALF metre. Sneaky.
    I’ll pay lots for special silks, or coat fabrics, or just something luxurious, cos why not? I don’t think I’ve ever gone above £25/m and that would be for ultra luxe coat wool or the like.

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    1. You are living the life! I feel like the British and European fabric markets are the stuff on legend online – we definitely don’t have anything like that! Sigh. Interesting that a fellow Brit commented below how expensive fabric is in the UK and how cheap it seems in Canada… I guess location makes all the difference!

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      1. Definitely. If you only hjave access to local bricks and mortar shops, which generally stock excessive amounts of over-priced ‘quirky’ quilting cottons, then yeah, your bank balance will suffer. I’m happy to buy online, as I’m experienced enough to largely be able to ‘read’ from the picture what the fabric will be like, so have had some amazing bargains from all over. One of my absolute favourites for luxury end fabrics is ‘The Italian Textile Company’ on eBay. One of those priced per half metre, but oh boy, stunning or what! Markets are hit and miss, but I know I can still get most things that I want one way or the other! [And I’m in FB de-stash group, which of course, has grown my stash…oh dear]

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  2. The short answer to your question is invariably more, and often quite a lot more, but not because I’m rich or like high quality fabrics, it’s quite simply that in the UK the cost of most fabrics has skyrocketed. We have no local fabric stores so I buy everything online, which as we all know can be a bit hit and miss.
    I’m currently dithering over different linen suppliers for a simple shift dress, because at £15-20 a metre, I wouldn’t want to make a costly error. I think anything under £10 a metre is very reasonable, and sometimes a bargain, depending on quality.
    Thankfully one of our most popular online suppliers, Minerva Crafts offers a full money back refund if you’re not happy with your selection, which I have had occasion to try out when ordering a wool blend knit. The only downside is you have to buy full metres, so it pushes the price up still further.
    You are very lucky to have so many relatively close outlets, and I’m always fascinated to see what you’ve created. Maybe we should all relocate to Canada!

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    1. So interesting that the comment right above you is Brit who lives close enough to markets to get all kinds of goodies cheaply! I guess I”m right in between you two, in terms of location – I do drive an hour to get fabric, but within that time I’m connecting to the largest urban cluster of cities in Canada. So, things aren’t on my doorstep, but the are close-ish! If I lived a few hours north, the story would be quite difference.
      I’ve actually ordered from Minerva before, because their flat rate international shipping makes it so much cheaper than ordering from the US! I think shipping is definitely a strength in the UK market – from what I see on UK stores, it is often flat rate and quite fast. I once paid $70 to return a bunch of absolute crap jersey to Minerva, just because I was so mad that it wasn’t the fibre content they had described (stiff poly instead of lovely rayon). You be jealous of my cheap fabric, and I’ll be jealous of your free returns! 😉

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  3. Thank You for sharing! this is a great topic! Since I’ve bought fabric as early as the late 70’s and 80’s I’ve seen prices climb. Recently I posted pictures of price tags from the 80’s showing $1.29 a yard on sale!(USD) My budget then, sewing for the kids was small. As my income grew Walmart took it. And now I’m back to sewing! Because once again my budget it tight.

    I get my knits at girlcharlie for around $3 a yard on sale. I shop a lot of sales. I can pay around $6.00 a yard for specialty fabric. And I try to pay no more than $5.00 for novelty. So lots of sales!

    Thankfully I did keep a fabric stash during the Walmart years. Altho I did donate some I could use now! LOL! But I still have a good selection. Our last local fabric store died 5 years ago. It was a Hancock Fabrics. :o( And we are a city of 60,000.

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    1. I”m so sad that cities can’t sustain fabric stores! My city is 130 000, and all we’ve got is the weird dingy warehouse. But at least it is something!

      I think the prices you are getting on sales are pretty equivalent to my sale prices IRL here. I used to buy cheap US fabric and have it shipped, but the shipping is equivalent to the price of fabric, and now custom rules have changed so there is always an on-delivery fee of about half the cost of shipping. That sure adds up fast, so I haven’t ordered from the US in a long time, except when family can bring it back in their suitcase! 😉

      I’m glad you stash is large – you have a lot of family to sew for! ❤

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      1. BTW, I love your weird dingy warehouse. When I’m passing through I always check it out. I never know what I’ll find, but I always find something. Not a reliable source, but very entertaining!

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      2. Yes shipping here (US) is a killer. Some flat rates (girlcharlie) aren’t bad, but you have to justify the prices + shipping. I did forget we have a Joane fabric here, and Walmart carries iffy stuff!. If I drove an hour south I’d find lots of goodies like dressmakingdebacles!!

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  4. How very interesting Gillian! Initially when I got back into sewing I did buy the cheap stuff but now i definitely go for quality over quantity, though it does mean I have some ‘decision paranoia’ when deciding what to make, as I don’t want to ‘waste’ fabric. It sucks making up and loving a garment that then pills or the fabric is itchy (that just happened to me, and I can’t stand it!). I am really curious about how your cheaper fabric wears? My average per yard would be around US$14, purely online as there isn’t any local fabric stores unless I travel.

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    1. I think it’s definitely a matter of preference and what textures you like against your skin! I find ITY knits are perfect for my teaching wardrobe: bright, indestructable, drapey but never revealing! I also like rayon jersey and bamboo, which can fade and pill in time, but usually not for a couple of years and then they become pyjamas! I like stretch wovens, which hold up forever, and I like synthetic double knits and rayon-blend ponte, which also both hold up well. I never sew with synthetic ponte because it pills instantly! I feel uncomfortable in wovens, so even when I’ve sewn tencel or rayon challis, it’s just not something I wear often.

      What are your favourite fabrics to wear?

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      1. I must sew up the few pieces of ITY I have for work, I agree that they would be great for working with students, though they are border prints and I don’t have a great pattern in mind for them (I am about the try the Catalina dress from Blank Slate, that might work!). I tend to go for the Art Gallery knits and Cotton and Steel rayons as I know they are good quality and wear well. I have been happy with all the Telio fabrics I have got as well – they seem to have increased their options for the home sewing market. When do ythe u go back to school? We start back next week. Yikes, better get sewing!

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  5. It all depends, but lately I buy less and pay more. I’ll pay $15-30 a yard if it is something I will be wearing a lot. If it’s a new pattern I try to use from my stash, fabrics bought on sale for $3-5 a yard.

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  6. Interesting! While working at Fabricland I think I spent $60-70/month on fabric—not terrible in the grand scheme of things but I used to try to limit myself to $40/month and that never really worked out. But I got a lot of fabric for that money (I never bought anything for less than half price and usually tried to wait for 60 or 70 percent off sales)—and that’s not counting he free project fabric. It was probably pretty rare for me to pay more than $10/m—but if I wanted to make something with an expensive fabric, I did it as a project, so it’s not like I was really limiting myself. Without that job my income is quite a bit lower, so I am hoping to almost exclusively sew from stash for the foreseeable future. Which is ok, there’s a lot of stash! Now I just need to lay off on the pattern buying! 😂

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    1. Yeah, my fabric budget is $30/week, but I never spend it weekly… and the problem I find with shopping the sales and having to drive an hour to get to them is if I like it and it’s cheap, I buy it. It’s very binge shopping, which is not ideal for the wallet! (I’m fighting the urge right now to go through and total what I have actually spent per month – I always estimate and round up, but I don’t actually *know*! We’ve just started using a tracking app for finances though, so i’m hoping that helps get hobby spending down for us both.)

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  7. I’m lucky to be in Victoria BC where we have several fabric shops to choose from but that doesn’t preclude me from shopping online either 🙂 I’m trying to curb that a lot more. Am I having success? I’d say I’ve slowed down a lot but 2 lots arrived yesterday (Minerva, UK & Threadcount in Manitoba) so not doing stellar 🙂 I usually pay $20/m – more if it’s silk, organic, eco, or linen and I’m fine with that. I’m generally running pretty hot bodied compared to most people so artificial fabrics like poly are out of the question. I don’t sew prolifically. Typically 1 – 2 garments a month and I make everything I wear including loungewear which is where my Liberty lawn comes in 🙂 My sewing group gasps whenever I mention “housedress” in Liberty but it gets worn a LOT! A lot more than most people wear their fancy Liberty dresses which may only get worn a couple of times. The more I’m going to wear something the more I pay for the fabric because the more often it’s going to go through the wash. I don’t follow a monthly budget but I know when I’ve spent too much and start reigning it back in for a while and right now I’m in restraint mode. My intention to stay that way until that crazy expensive stash comes down which will likely takes me years 🙂

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    1. I love your philosophy of paying more when you’ll wear it often! I think that makes perfect sense. And when you love wearing lovely natural fibres (and need to ) then it makes perfect sense to invest.

      BTW, your comment about the monthly sewing sessions in Victoria made me so envious that i decided to do something about it – so a friend and I are starting a monthly drop-in sewing session at the local tool library where she works! I don’t know who will show up, but I’m really hoping a core of friends and enthusiasts develops in time! Thank you for inspiring me to make it happen!

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        1. Yay! Gillian, the tentative first date is Tuesday, Sept 18 from 6:30-8 at the guelph Tool Library! Bring your own machine, although there are two there to borrow. I’ll post about it here sometime in September!

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      1. It’ll grow! I promise!!

        We have a standing “first Saturday of the month” group meetup and the make-up of the group changes each month but I’d say it’s only a couple times a year where it doesn’t happen at all. Like I’m thinking the September meetup may not because us minnesotans start to mourn summer ending and school is starting back so families are extra busy 🙂

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    2. I’m in Victoria too! I used to spend a lot more money when I worked in the building above Gala – way too easy to pop in over lunch. I think we are lucky though, between Gala and Fabricland. I will definitely splurge on fabrics for work clothes, but if I’m making a new pattern I don’t want to spend too much.
      What sewing group are you in? I’ve been looking for one!

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  8. Thanks for this Gillian. I think getting good fabric locally has gotten harder over the last decade or so with many independent shops closing down. I really only have a Fabricland at hand here. It’s an adequate one, but not as good as some in other cities. If I have a project in mind, I’ll drive 30-45 minutes to get to a better one that has more natural fabrics and good knits.

    Wherever I am, I usually go for the dead stock racks for my first go at a pattern (in the $3-5/m range), but then head to the regular bolts for the TNTs. I wait for the sales however, as I really don’t feel sufficiently confident of my skills to risk $30/m linen! I usually pay $10-12/m for good fabric this way. I don’t sew as prolifically as you so pacing myself isn’t a problem.

    If I want something different, it means a trip into Toronto and then I have to factor parking, gas (and OK, lunch) into the cost of the fabric!

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    1. Can we take a minute to celebrate that THERE ARE THREE GILLIANS IN THIS COMMENT SECTION???? I mean, where and when has that ever happened!? 😉 Gillians unite!

      It’s funny how even within a chain, there are “good” Fabriclands and “bad” ones! The one I grew up with in Orangeville used to be great in the 90’s, but now they move so little stock that it’s quite dire. Hard to even get basics there! The Waterloo on I find weird… sometimes some gems, but often more expensive than other Fabriclands, and without so much deadstock fabric! I like the Stratford one because it’s such a pleasant drive, and the store is good… Ottawa St in Hamilton is great, and I go to the stores in Burlington, Missisauga and Brampton from time to time as well. If I hit a different store each sale day, there are goodies to be found!

      (Does that paragraph read like the ramblings of an obsessed crazy woman? It might. But we all knew that anyway, right?)

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      1. An unheard of number of Gillians! The Fabriclands really vary a lot. I grew up in Caledonia, and the Orangeville store was my go to, but I have heard the similar comments from others about its current state. Brampton is my local store and it frequently frustrates me in terms of selection and service. The people working there don’t seem at all happy and that does not make for a pleasant shopping experience. Stratford on the other hand blew me away with its size, tidiness, choice and cheerful and helpful staff. In the GTA, the new store in Oakville on Dundas is very nice indeed.

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          1. Hahahaha! I was just about to say that my husband grew up outside Caledonia, but I couldn’t quite figure out why you’d be shopping in Orangeville… 😉

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      2. Agreed about the good and bad Fabriclands. My Fabricland in Scarborough is not very good right now. I heard that outside Toronto they are better?

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      3. I really like the Stratford Fabricland as well. The one in Kitchener is okay and the one in Cambridge is not too bad either but Stratford is definately my favourite especially when there is a sale on. My mother lives in Welland so when I head that way I go to the one in St. Catherines and have found some good things there as well. I’m 65 so natural fibres are all I can wear these days or I’m dripping in sweat. I buy a lot from Blackbird Fabrics online because her quality is so good but yes they are more expensive. I used to love going to Ottawa Street in Hamilton but it seems a lot of the clothing fabric stores are closing down. Bramakers Supply is my main stop there now and the Fabricland there is pretty good. Back when I used to make custom draperies for people it was Ottawa Street where I bought everything and I always found excellent clothing fabrics as well in a couple of the stores that are now gone. I don’t order from the US either because the shipping and duty are terrible.

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        1. WHAT????? How do I find out which store is which??????? *mind blown* I thought it was just luck that one store would be better than another!

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  9. Thanks for detailing your costs, Gillian, that was very interesting!

    Fabric shops in the UK are tiny compared to photo’s I’ve seen of American stores, so even with all of London’s shops and markets I mostly still have to buy online. If you can’t wear synthetics then £5/metre is pretty cheap.

    I’ve recently fallen for some of the lovely designs on Scandinavian jersey, but they are £20+, I buy people’s offcuts (1m+) from facebook groups to save on the £20+ postage.

    The huge postage and duty on fabric from the States is collected by the post office, who charge £8 on top! I did buy some really lovely fabric from a sale at Miss Matatabi in Japan. The postage was very stiff, but it arrived in 2 days (and the fabric was so good I ordered more :O )

    Most of my fabrics are in the £5 – 10 range, and I still find spending £10/m difficult.

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    1. If it makes you feel better, the urban stores here are small too – it’s only out in the suburbs/country that big box stores exist for fabric! I *love* Japanese fabric (I lived there for 5 years), and I’d agree that while the shipping is sometimes expensive, it’s also very fast and the quality of fabric is always excellent! Did you have to pay duties when it arrived? I do from the US to Canada, but not from Japan. If you are interested in bargain hunting, you should check out Rakuten – it’s like the Japanese Amazon, and it you don’t mind sorting through the badly translated descriptions, the fabric itself is excellent quality. https://global.rakuten.com/en/category/210254/ I did a blog post about it years ago, which is here: https://craftingarainbow.wordpress.com/2013/03/10/super-kawaii/ The options for shops that ship abroad on Rakuten have definitely improved over the years!

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      1. Did you bring cases and cases of Japanese fabric back with you? My husband loved Japan last year on a cycling holiday, and wants to go back. There was no duty on my parcels, which could be luck, or it may be the same here.

        Thanks for your recommendation of Rakuten, Gillian, that’s good to know, and for the links. I foresee several hours down that rabbit hole!

        Fairy not only has the famous Birmingham rag market and experience on her side, she also has access to bargain haberdashery, which I’ve yet to find in London. Seeing the amazing range and cheap prices in the US makes me jealous! It’s generally very expensive here, how is it for you?

        We have Fabricland over here too, and I’ve had some bargains, would have had more if they’d known the fabric composition.

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    2. Thanks Gillian for this topic. It’s really interesting to know how much people spend on their sewing hobby. I’m a newbie in sewing garments so when I started a few months back, I used fabrics from thrift stores. I can’t justify spending any more for practice sewing (I do make a lot of mistakes). I’m on the frugal side so I would hate myself if I mess up a project where I spend a fortune on. So with thrift store finds, whatever the outcome of my projects, whether wearable or not, I’m happy either way. The non-wearable ones, I just think of them as my learning experience.

      I do realize I’m very lucky as I am within 1 hr trip to Our Social Fabric and Fabcycle in our city (Vancouver,BC) on top of the Fabricland and Fabricana just around the corner. The first two sells dead stock fabric from manufacturers, film makers, etc. so they don’t end up in the land fill. Our Social Fabric opens their doors regularly twice a month and they sell fabrics from $2-5/ meter. They do have quite a selection but they do depend on what’s donated. They have good quality ones too, you’ll be surprised. Fabcycle recently had their first pop-up shop and they had fabrics from free to $3/meter. I’m quite happy getting my bamboo jerseys/terry knits for $3/m there so I stocked up since I sew for other people too. Once in a while I do buy from online stores when they’re on sale for a few specific projects (like a coat and Christmas gifts) and not to stash. Honestly, they’re still sitting in my stash since I have so many projects in mind but so little time, but that’s another issue.

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      1. I love Our Social Fabric, too! Their new larger space is wonderful. Vancouver is also lucky to have Dressew which has SO MUCH FABRIC but also notions, etc. It can feel daunting but you learn how to find what you want and ignore the rest. I have been disappointed in the two Fabriclands that I visited here but I second Fabricana as a wonderful store.

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  10. You are so fortunate to have so many choices of fabric stores. Living in rural Saskatchewan I have three “local” choices, two are an hours drive away and are mostly quilting stores with a small selection of garment fabric. Average price in these is $22-$29/metre for poly knits. The nearest Fabricland is a 2 hour drive and in a city I rarely go to. Prices there are high, even on sales, and it is hard to find quality bottom weights, especially linen or rayons (knits or wovens). The Fabricland that was only an hour away closed two years ago. The space was small and choices limited, but you could usually find good denims which are really hard to find in my nearest remaining Fabricland . When I do get to Fabricland it is not unusual for me to spend $300 or more (try to hit sales) to fill gaps in my stash. I haven’t tried online ordering because I like to feel the fabric and being retired can’t afford mistakes. I am starting to seriously consider ordering from Spool and Spindle–I already order patterns (Closet Case Files, Cashmerette and Jalie) as there is no local store for buying these and I refuse to use precious sewing time to tape together PDFs. The staff there seem very accommodating and the service has been great. Shipping costs are similar to what I would spend on gas to go to the nearest cities here.

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    1. I am lucky, I know! I can get to about 6 different Fabriclands if I drive 1hour in various directions. Spool and Spindle is a good bet for quality – having been there many times, I can vouch that their stock is very nice! A bit pricey for me though… but again, that’s only because I have cheaper options! 😉

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  11. I’m going to listen to that podcast, because now I’m curious! Decent natural fiber fabrics are much more than $7.50 a yard in the U.S. unless you are willing to put up with Joann’s subpar quality and performance, or you like a lot of quilting cottons (and even then, the good ones are more in the $10/yard range) I tend to spend around $9.50-$10 a yard, occasionally I’ll splash out on something that is $16/yard, but it feels expensive to me. Good rayon challis and some linens run that high, and I’ve noticed Cotton+Steel’s prices for garment substrates have gone up substantially this year. Come to think, so have Art Gallery and Robert Kaufman’s prices. Don’t know if there is something economic there or what, but I’m not loving the hit to my wallet. I used to buy a lot more fabric (always with specific projects in mind), but I buy less now. I haven’t really tracked it that closely to see. I’ll probably be surprised if I do, though.

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    1. Oh yeah, decent natural fibres are more expensive here too. I don’t love wearing them, so I’m ok buying more synthetics! Prices are definitely creeping up in so many categories – everything except fast fashion, which means sewing is relatively more and more expensive! But so fun, and better for everyone, so of course it’s worth it!

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    2. I feel like Art Gallery, Kaufmann and Cotton & Steele have gotten really popular in the social media sphere and the prices have risen.

      Sometimes people sew nice things from JoAnn fabric and I am legit jealous. I bought a cut of rayon challis last month. That is the first piece of fabric I’ve purchased from JoAnn since approximately 2014 because my store has awful fabric. And I am STILL looking at that fabric sideways because I hope it turns out okay! LOL!

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      1. Yeah, Joann’s is really hit or miss. I’ve bought rayon challis from them before, and sometimes it is okay and sometimes not. I got a length of black 100% linen from them a few years ago for a religious vest for my husband and it was fine (comparable to fabrics-store.com quality and price). The quilting cotton (which I used to sew with a lot) is all over the place quality wise, and you really can’t always tell by the price. It is down to the hand, which I can’t always feel because I live pretty far from any Joann store. I do most of my fabric shopping online (Hawthorne Threads, Hart’s Fabric, and Fabric.com mostly). I like that Fabric.com takes fabric back no questions asked.

        Hope your challis turns out beautifully!

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  12. Wow, I am in awe of how much fabric costs where you are, Gillian. Actually, when I was still in Scotland there were not many cheap fabric shops so under £10 would be about right for a mid-to-low cost piece, but moving to the “Deep South” there are just so many low priced options, even our local market (still a 1/2 hour drive away) sells fairly nice quality rolls ends from manufacturing for £1 per metre, although his “good” stuff is 3m for £5. 🙂 I have fallen in love with Walthamstow Market which has variable quality but usually low prices. There are some proper bargains on eBay in the UK but the quality is variable and definitely not dependent on price paid. After hearing a recommendation, I just bough some expensive (for me) fabric in an online sale and I have to say the quality was amazing. Since my output is so low this might be the way forwards. Funny, I baulk at paying out more than £10m for me-clothes but have bought silks/lace for corsetry for over £100+m. I suppose it is how we justify it to ourselves in our heads. 🙂 Xx

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  13. Found this very interesting. I tend to spend either very little $3/m or on the higher end at $28/m and very little in between. I don’t produce as much as you and I also make clothes for my kids which takes much smaller amounts of fabric. I find with the little time I have to sew right now I prefer to make stuff that I really love that I can’t find at the store. I tend to buy lots of custom knit fabrics online for my kids clothes. I buy myself mostly natural fibres online or at local indie stores as i tend to be sensitive to the feel and breathability of fabric. Ive also tried to move away from poly for environmental reasons. I’ve also become more invested in making clothes that last well as I’m sad to see how disposable kids clothes have become and i feel good fabric helps with that. I also shop at a local textile recycling initiative so that’s when I get to spend $3/m and feel like I’m rich. There’s no right way to enjoy a hobby, it’s interesting to hear others perspective.

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  14. It sounds goulish, but I live in an area with a high percentage of seniors (I’m close to maintaining this statistic) and end up buying a lot of my fabric at the charity shops when someone’s stash is cleared out by a non-sewer. I recently scored two pieces of rayon — three meters & one and a half (a dress and a top) — as well as about four meters of a linen-cotton blend (Helen’s Closet York Pinafore) for $5. The price is entirely dependent on whether or not the woman at the cash sews. This one… did not.

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  15. Dang, $7.50 USD won’t get you much it seems. I probably spend more on most of my fabric unless it is very plain jersey or I get a good JoAnn’s coupon. but I do hit up the $3/yard shop when I’m near by, but its a good hour long drive away. I splurge on silk, wool, and vintage fabrics, but I try to keep it close to $10/yard unless it is silk.

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    1. When The Fabric Store in LA was closing I definitely went and bought some of the pricer fabrics I’d been looking at because soon it would be too late to get them! I don’t usually stash, but felt like that was a special circumstance and is skewing my results for this year.

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  16. This was an interesting read and it inspires me to think about my own fabric purchases and maybe even also write a blogpost about it.

    It’s very rarely that I buy fabric above 5 euro. If I compare myself to other bloggers in Europe, I think I’m definitely focussing on supercheap fabric. I think that’s because I have access to cheaper kinds of fabric (but of good quality) through fabric markets and a nose for bargains… Even though I can afford more expensive fabrics, I’m too afraid to ruin it so I stick to the cheaper ones.

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  17. This (and the comments) has been very interesting to read. I’d put myself slightly on the frugal side of things. I’m located in the south/central US region and I have a Joann’s about 15 minutes away and another about 45 minutes away. If I need something *right this instant* for a project or if they are having a really good sale then I’ll shop there. In reality, for the types of fabrics I prefer to sew with, they’re very hit or miss on both quality and price. I do most of my fabric shopping online and generally binge shop 3-4 times a year and spend about $200 each time. Most of the fabric stores that I use have either flat rate shipping or a “free shipping after you spend [x] amount” policy – which is where the binge fabric buying comes in handy. For the few online shops that don’t have one or the other I usually try to strike a balance between the amount of fabric and the shipping cost.

    I would say that, in general, I pay between $3-8/yard. Anything above $10-12/yard hits the “splurge” catagory in my head. Though I technically have fabric stores close to me, in my experience shopping online generally nets me a higher quality fabric for a lower price. I make note of where I get fabrics that I find wear/last particularly well and then if the store restocks it I buy them out by the bolt. I sew primarily with knits and stretch wovens and have a pretty low key wardrobe (stay at home, homeschooling mom of 5 here. I need comfortable and durable!). I sew primarily for myself but I also sew a good chunk of my kids’ wardrobes as well as pieces for extended family members (which, to date, have encompassed everything from basic flannel pj pants to a wedding dress).

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  18. This is an interesting read, also the very different comments. Over here in Berlin, Germany we’ve got a lot of opportunities to buy fabric offline but 6-7€ ist definitly on the cheaper side but also possible.

    However I stopped worrying about fabric prizes since I stopped buying fabric for the stash. When I realized that I do have more fabric than I would ever sew ( I don’t have much time to sew) and also own fabric I’m already tired off before I cut into it I purged my stash and donated 35kg. Then I decided I only buy fabric (and patterns!) for the next three projects, which I batch cut and then will sew for sure. I won’t search for a bargain for those but buy what I really want and appreciate. It is usually between 10-20€. I’m a lot happier with that strategy because I really love the projects, the fabric is no compromise on the budget and I don’t spend more money than I used to.

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  19. I have a massive stash. Like a whole room in my house is dedicated to housing fabric. It is organized very efficiently with floor to ceiling storage and the room can barely contain it. I think that allows me some latitude because I never need a piece of fabric for a project. I always have something appropriate. So I can wait until I find a very good deal before I purchase and when I purchase I can buy in bulk. So, for example, I found a very good deal on high quality designer black linen for $6/yd and bought 15 yds. Cuts down on shipping costs as well. I top out at $10/yd typically and usually don’t pay less than $4/yd to avoid crappy fabric (though every so often some truly lovely fabric is less than that). I have tons of options in Los Angeles. I’ll splurge on something like Cone Mills denim and maybe tencel rayon if I love the color.

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  20. This post and comments have been really interesting. I am in Australia and only got back into sewing a year ago. In that time I have already got a bit of a stash. But for me a real bargain is $4/m (I was lucky when I first started our local fabric store had some really nice fabric on clearance including some lovely cotton sateens that I picked up for $2-4/m but their usual clearance price is more around $6-10/m). As a general rule I try not to spend over $15/m for cotton/woven fabric. I have some lovely stuff I picked up from Miss Matatabi on sale last year that even with postage came in under $15/m. When buying from my local large fabric store I never buy fabric unless it is on sale, they have a sale pretty much every week.

    Knits can be more challenging to come by here. I was lucky enough to pick up some Art Gallery knit recently on sale for $15/m (before shipping) but it usually retails here for $26/m. So for knits I try and find it when online stores have a sale and I will then buy quite a few items to make postage worth it. Solid cotton lycra is nearly $20/m and if I wanted some Bamboo Lycra it would be $24/m just for a solid…

    There are a lot of people in sewing groups who talk about using fabric/sheets/doonas from charity shops but the few times I have checked my local they didn’t have anything and with a toddler and working I don’t want to waste sewing time ‘hoping’ to find fabric.

    Recently I started thinking and reading about sustainable sewing and so I have been thinking a little more about how much fabric I have and how much quicker I was buying it then using it. I also live in small house so finding somewhere to store it was becoming an issue! I don’t have a huge amount of spare time at the moment so even in a good month I would probably only get a few garments sewn (unless I am making something for my son, small knit garments are so quick to cut out and sew!) I am looking forward to summer holidays and hopefully having time to get a few projects done. So I am trying to use what I have in my stash and only buy if I need it for a specific purpose. But like you, if I see a good bargin, especially for knit fabric, I try and take advantage so I don’t have to pay full price!!

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  21. I’d say I definitely spend more than you per metre, but less per month. The fabrics I covet in the UK are anything from £7 to £50 per metre, depending on what I buy and where from. I probably buy most things at around £15-£20 ($25-34 CAD) per metre, but I don’t have as much time as I’d like to sew so I usually only get through only 2 or 3 metres a month.

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    1. Me too!

      I try to buy more organic cotton or tencel type fibers and the like, so that ups the cost quite a bit.I do have markets closeby where super cheap fabric is sold (starting at €2/meter I guess) as well as some more high end stores.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. I’m late to the party. I was recently thinking of discussing expenditures in a bit more detail on the blog. It *is* an undeniably large part of the hobby for most of us!!

    I am lucky to have a warehouse-type store locally with very nice fabrics at reasonable costs. Like the silks that are usually $10-$12/yard ($9-11/m) and the discount silk bin is $6/yard! I LOVE THAT BIN!!! 🙂

    I always complain about shipping costs until I am reminded how much shipping internationally costs. I order online most often from Fabric Mart, Fabric dot com and Fashion Fabrics Club. But in the last year have really branched out and have ordered from Michael Levine, Mood, Cali Fabrics and a few more. FM and FFC are the ‘bargain’ sites for me most often where I spend $4-10 a yard. Average is more in the $4-$6/yd range

    I have seriously splurged, but usually for smaller projects. I have a wool skirt that I spent about $25/yd for the fabric, but I can make my straight skirt TNT with 1 yd as long as it is least 54″ wide. So I don’t mind that it was that much. With the fabric + construction, I’d compare it to a RTW skirt that costs 4-5 times that. It’ll last me as long as I can/want to wear it.

    Do they sell those color catcher things in Canada? They are a little pricey but I’ve found they work really well!! (for your husband’s FF sweatshirt!)

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    1. I love this topic too. I live in Vancouver so I do have access to local fabric stores, but I shop online lots too.
      I’m really picky about my fabric- I want my makes to look professional & flattering, and to last a long time. I work in Real Estate so I dress up a lot. I want to look like I shop at Holt without the price (besides not being a size 2 LOL). I buy a lot of silk, and designer synthetics/blends/“novelty” fabrics. My holy grail is something I don’t have to iron every five minutes, but that also isn’t staticky, clingy or generally acrylic-gross.
      Aaannnddddd about that stash. Mine fills all the tubs under my bed PLUS a 4’x3’x2’ cabinet.
      So, lately I’m really trying to stay away from the stores and shop my stash. I love what Anja said above about only buying for three projects at a time and not buying for your stash.
      And as to the money… depends on what I’m buying. I used to buy gorgeous silks from Emma One Sock ($15-$30 USD /yard), and all sorts of designer stuff from Mood ($7-$25 USD/ yard). I would order to a US post office box and have regularly brought $200 worth of fabric across the border without paying any taxes or duty. But now that the CAD has been bad for so long, I rarely head south to shop anymore. When I factor in an hr drive across the border, shipping and PO fees in USD… it kills the shopping buzz every time.
      Another buzz killer? All the online shops that charge per half metre. I know it’s purely psychological but it angers me every time & so far I’ve never pressed the “complete” button.
      Lately I’ve limited my pricing to $15/m or less and I’ve actually found some great things (tencel, wool, linen blends, etc) in the clearance section at Fabricana in Richmond, BC and at Atex and Dressew in Vancouver. Plus, I’ve got a stash worth hundreds of dollars, so till the CAD improves, I’m limiting my average monthly purchases to $30 or less.

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      1. If it helps, the indie fabric stores I’ve talked to about selling by the half or 1/4 metre all say it’s because the online shop format they use only allows sales of full items – so if they priced by the metre, you could only buy by the metre! If they price in smaller amounts, people can buy 5 whole units and get 2.5 metres. I think the larger stores all build their own websites and shops from scratch, so they aren’t tied to the rules of pre-programmed webstore vendors! Hope I explained that clearly – maybe it’ll let you finally push “purchase” on some online stores! (In Japan, online stores sell by the 10cm, which *really* involves a lot of math but is very precise!)

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  23. Honestly, most fabric is way more than $7.50 a metre (or yard, hah!) here in Norway. Stoff&Stil is by far my current source for fabric, and while they have an excellent catalogue, I’m lucky to have one of their stores a 10 minute bus drive from where I work. Fabrics on sale and from the remnant section can get down to $10 a metre, but the normal price range for woven viscose is about $15 a yard, and going up from there. A ponte knit would be about the same, and a lot of nicer wools twice that.

    I found that the last several years I have dialed way down on fabric purchases. I might buy something while travelling if I can visit a fabric store with enough time to not make me feel rushed, and *if* I really like it and have a fairly immediate vision of something I’d want to make (or if I fall madly in love). I pick up something at Stoff&Stil occasionally (3-5 times a year perhaps), and usually I have a pretty specific plan for those purchases. While not big by any means, I have a fabric stash that most definitely has enough in it to keep me sewing for years, and I enjoy the challenge of putting it to good use. I think a large stash makes me anxious, as I have no way of getting through it all. As a final note I’ll say I am nowhere near as prolific as you Gillian, so the balance between spending and output is quite ok! 😀

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  24. I am really thankful for this discussion and it got me thinking more mindfully about my stash. I used to be a Fabricland shopper all the way, because that’s all I thought there was in Edmonton, but was constantly getting disappointed in the lack of options for what I wanted and/or in the quality. At that time I would spend $8-$15/meter. I then discovered an amazing local fabric store which of course closed down within a year of me finding it. I was spending more like $20/m there because they usually had what I wanted.
    Now, I try to hit up the local fabric shops when I travel to new cities and usually spend $20-$25 a meter because I am looking for natural fibers usually and want quality, long-lasting fabrics. I dip my toes into online when there’s something truly specific I am after (there’s just allll the options) and sometimes risk ordering from the US (only got badly dinged on duties once) and shop quite a bit from Blackbird in Vancouver.

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