Saving Money With Sewing

7 ways to save money on sewing

Ever feel like sewing is expensive and costs more than it’s worth? Today I’m sharing my tips for 7 ways you can save money with sewing. Some of the tips will save money on your sewing supplies and others will help you save in other areas of your life.

One of my favorite ways to save money is to repurpose items. This is not only budget friendly, but sustainable and FUN! I take clothing we no longer need or fit and remake them into completely different items we can continue to use and love.

One of my favorite examples is when Skyler had a shirt she loved, but it was too small for her to continue wearing. I used the cute design from the shirt and a thrifted curtain to make a pinafore dress.

Another favorite of mine are the leggings I made for Peyton using my old maternity shirts. The leggings are super soft and comfy, perfect for sleeping in. One shirt wasn’t really long enough for leggings, so I added a thick cuff at the bottom to make up the extra length. This means my kids got new clothes and they didn’t cost me a penny! I only used clothing and supplies that we already owned.

I share more about this tip and SIX ADDITIONAL IDEAS in my youTube video. Click HERE to learn more!

I would love to know how you save money with your sewing. Please leave a comment and share this post with your sewing friends. Until next time, Happy Sewing!

Whitney

Making Costumes on a Tight Budget

Sewing on a budget is a necessity for many sewers, but it doesn’t have to feel like a punishment! Today I want to share some of my favorite methods for making costumes on a tight budget and enjoying it.

I began sewing 22 years ago. My very first big project was a scrappy quilt using leftover pieces from my mom’s quilt project. Her fabric – thrifted plaid shirts. It was the ultimate budget project and we had a blast working on our quilts!

The first garments I made were t-shirt reconstructions. My materials – a boyfriend’s old, unwanted t-shirts.

Early in our marriage all my projects were made from thrifted sheets. I could get them for a dollar or two and make a ton of things from each one.

It dawned on me a few years back that having limited supplies forced me to be more creative. I could be creative with material choices, cutting layouts, and mixing fabrics. I loved the challenge of making so little add up to look like so much more.

So, how do you get started costuming on a budget? Below are some of my favorite tips.

Use Your Stash

I start each project at the stor(age). Yes, that is correct, do not start by heading to a store, but rather to your storage (or stash). In my case that is a storage building in our yard. We keep Christmas decor, out of season clothes, and my extra fabric in there. When I’m planning a new project (or trying to decide between a couple of projects) I will head out there with my reference photos and see what I can find. Sometimes it’s a fabric for the majority of the costume other times it’s just a trim or a sheet to use for the lining. The more materials I can use from my stash, the less I need to buy.

Stock Up on Basics

You may be thinking, but I don’t have much of a stash. So my next tip is to stock up on basics. When there is a great sale stock up on things you know you use time and again. Things like thread, interfacing, and elastic are some of my must haves on hand. Years ago I bought interfacing a yard or two at a time as needed. This meant a trip to town, possibly paying full prices, and small bits of offcuts left over each time. I realized how ridiculous this was after a while. The next time interfacing was 60% off I bought an entire bolt. Now there is less waste because I’m working with one continuous piece, I got it at the lowest possible price, and it’s always on hand for planned or unplanned projects.

Thrift Wisely

After checking my stash and my go to supplies I hit the thrift stores. I have a handful of good thrift stores in my area. I hit up each one to see if I can find curtains, sheets, yardage, and even clothing that can be repurposed. I will go to stores with specific projects in mind, but will also pick up any curtains and things I find that could work for other projects in the future. I gravitate to natural fibers when possible (linen and cotton) and texture. Texture adds visual interest and makes a costume look more expensive.

The skirt in the photo below was made from a circle tablecloth I thrifted for $2. It has a tone on tone damask design that looks much more interesting than a solid yellow fabric. The waistband was made from a thrifted bed skirt and some stash elastic.

Think Outside the Box

After I nail down as many materials as I can from stash and thrift stores I look at the items that are left. These are usually non fabric items. In the case of my female Robin Hood costume I needed eight toggle buttons and loop fasteners. It was not in my budget to buy them, so I figured out how to make them – for free! The buttons are a dowel rod from a broken clothes drying rack I had hung onto “just in case”. I cut, dremeled, stained and sealed them to have beautiful wooden buttons. The loop fasteners are scrap leather from a jacket I thrifted and used in THIS project years ago and green elastic cord from another thrift flip. My lack of budget challenged me to try new things and I gained some new skills.

BTW take note of the texture of the green fabric. As I mentioned earlier, texture adds a lot to a costume. Since making this shirt I have managed to thrift the same curtain in black, raspberry, and cream to use in future projects.

Reuse Costume Pieces

My most recent finish was a huge build with a big (for me) budget of time and money. It took about 200 hours to complete, 50+ of those hours were spent hand embroidering the bottom of the teal skirt. The costume won Best in Show at the largest convention in our state, so I probably won’t be competing with it anymore. Plus the costume has SOOOOO many pieces that I realistically don’t see myself wearing it that many times. But that doesn’t mean I can’t reuse parts of it.

I have been wanting to make a costume from the movie Brave for many years. So when one of the kids looked at the teal skirt and said “it looks like something Merida would wear” I knew it had to happen. I had about 1 yard of the material left and managed to squeeze a bodice and sleeves out of it. This coming weekend I’ll be wearing the skirt with the new bodice and a shirt I made from a thrifted sheet for a Merida costume. I’ll be sharing photos on my Instagram, so make sure you’re following me to see them.

I’m also already planning to reuse my $2 yellow tablecloth skirt in another upcoming cosplay. I didn’t intentionally pick costumes that could reuse pieces, but you definitely could to get the most bang for your buck by selecting costume with basics that can be used time and again!

Costume and Budget Breakdown

Whew, now that I have shared all those tips, I want to do a quick breakdown of my Robin Hood costume.

I started with the Cosplay by McCalls Sentinel pattern, I picked it up on sale for $1.99 a few years ago. The apple green shirt and hood lining was made from a thrifted curtain I pulled from my stash. The green velvet was a bit leftover from making THIS dress for Peyton to wear to the Medieval Fair when she was a baby. Before that the velvet was actually part of my mom’s stash. The red trim is from a theatre sale I went to years ago. I made the leather bracers from scraps I got in a bargain bag (with a coupon!) years ago at Hobby Lobby. The quiver is foam and paint I already had in my craft stash. The boots were repurposed from my Arrietty costume a few years back. The belt is Jeremiah’s and the bow and arrow were bought for a different costume. I mentioned earlier how I made the custom closures. The only two things I bought for this costume were the shorts for $2.50 (I added velvet at the bottom to make them longer and tie in better with the costume) and brown curtains for $10 for the body of the vest and hood outer. That means I made a new costume for under $15!

The biggest takeaway from this is don’t look at budgeting as something hard or punishing. Look at it as a way to kick start extra creativity, gain new skills, and be more sustainable. I won’t go super deep into sustainability right now, but I do love knowing that in addition to saving money I’m also cutting back on purchasing new fabrics and keeping existing materials from being thrown out.

I have a video coming soon all about saving money with sewing. You won’t want to miss it, so make sure you’re subscribed to Whitney Sews on youTube to catch it. Until next time, Happy Sewing!

Whitney

Where I Find Books – CHEAP!

We are a book loving family and LOVE owning a LOT of books! To make that manageable I have to shop smart and find the best book deals. Today I’m sharing all my favorite sites and secrets for purchasing affordable books.

Check out the video HERE to see my favorite places to buy books!

Below are referral links/affiliate links to some of the places mentioned so you can get some rewards and I earn some points as well.

Paperback Swap

Book Outlet

You can use Rakuten (formerly ebates) to save even more on Book Outlet and other sites.

Thrift Books

Ebay

Amazon

Earlier this summer we got each kid a book light that clips onto their bunk bed. They are allowed to read from whenever they go to bed until 10 o’clock. It has totally changed bedtime! The kids want to go to bed earlier so they have more time to read. I have seen a huge improvement in their reading skills and reading confidence just by making this one change. You can find the ones I bought HERE.

Most people don’t know, but I actually have a youTube channel called Whitney Reads where I narrate kids books. You can check it out HERE!

Ok, that was a ton of links! I hope you enjoyed hearing me ramble on about books in my video and will check out some of the sites I linked. If you want to see more videos like this make sure you hit that subscribe button for Whitney’s Tiny Life (the channel my book video is posted on).

Until next time,
Whitney

Polo Transformation

Now that I have completed my huge costume project (which by the way, I won BEST IN SHOW!) I am back to working on some other sewing projects.

First on the list was a quick pair of shorts for my youngest daughter. A few weeks ago my husband threw a few of his old polos into the donate pile. I promptly pulled them back out and said “I can reuse those!”

I used a basic leggings pattern and whipped up a quick pair of shorts. They don’t even require hemming since I reused the original shirt hem.

I’m trying out making some short form video tutorials and this was the first one. You can watch the video HERE! Let me know if you like this style of videos for quick sewing projects.

I also released my newest cross stitch pattern today! It’s the next in my Carty Party series and just in time for Christmas in July stitching.

You can find this pattern and all my other designs in my etsy shop linked HERE!

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! Happy Sewing!

Whitney

Sewing and Stitching

In my last update I talked a little about the costume I was working on for myself. I’m happy to say that I finished it and wore it twice already!

I used THIS Cosplay by MccCall’s pattern for the hood, tunic, and vest. It was my first time using a Cosplay by McCall’s pattern and I really enjoyed working with it. I have used many patterns (and own MANY, MANY more) and my biggest pattern complaint is how seam finishings are often not included in the step by step directions. The sewer is expected to know when and how to finish the seams. When you’re new to sewing or self taught that isn’t something you just automatically know. The Cosplay by McCall’s pattern actually included seam finishing in the step by step directions. I hope it’s something that is carried over into other types of sewing patterns.

I finished my costume in time to wear it to the local Medieval Fair and the following week to Creators Con where I hosted a sewing panel and emceed the costume contest with Jeremiah. I shared more about Creators Con, my panel, and finishing our costumes on my Patreon. You can find that post HERE.

Photo by Bane Grimm Photography

Since Creators Con I have been taking a break from sewing and did some cross stitching. Earlier this week I released another new pattern in my etsy shop. It’s a fun piece inspired by the animal puns my kids enjoy. The design incorporates only three floss colors and is perfect for a beginner cross stitcher. You can find the PDF pattern HERE.

I hope you are all doing well and have a wonderful rest of the week. Until next time, Happy Sewing!

Whitney

Amazon links are affiliate and help support Whitney Sews.

This entry was posted in Blog.

Almost Spring Time and Tons of Projects

Hello everyone! It has definitely been a bit since I last shared anything here. I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had time to slow done to share any updates.

As you can see above I have been keeping up with cross stitching. Within the past week I released two new Spring stitching designs.

The first was part four in my Crop of Characters series.

I started growing strawberries a couple of years ago so I knew my Spring crop needed to be berries. I think it turned out so cute and the perfect way to wrap up the series.

Next I shared the first pattern in my new Carty Party series.

Each design will feature a cart full of goodies and a character, but instead of following the seasons, this series centers on holidays. The first design is for Easter (but isn’t too obvious, so does work for Spring as well).

You can find all of my designs in my etsy shopStitched With Whitney.

In addition to cross stitching I have done some big stitch hand quilting on a project I started last Summer. It was only supposed to be a one or two month project. But after only a day or two of hand quilting I set it aside to work on something else AND COMPLETELY FORGOT ABOUT IT! I ended up cleaning my sewing corner (while wondering why the pile was so large) and found my forgotten quilt. So during the Olympics I spent a few evenings watching ice skating and stitching.

I still have a lot of work left on it, but feels good to have made some progress. The entire quilt was a stash buster for our spare/school room bed. I’m looking forward to seeing it completed.

Speaking of our school room. Back in November we switched our kids room and school room which was a huge job. The kids got a bunk bed and because of the shape of their old room/door and window placements there wasn’t a good place it would fit where the ceiling was high enough. So we swapped the rooms. Along with the swap I promised Peyton her own sewing space in the school room. I had a little corner to work with, so I used my childhood nightstand. I cut a U shape out of the bottom and took out the drawer and drawer supports to make room for her chair and legs. I had a little wooden folding chair that perfectly fits into it. It worked out perfectly and now Peyton can work on projects in her own little sewing space. She’s using the same sewing machine my parents gave me for Christmas when I was a teen. It’s the machine I took to collage with me and sewed costumes for my friends on, started my etsy shop with, and used in the early days of Whitney Sews.

I wrote up a post on my Patreon last month about how I’m teaching Peyton to sew, books and patterns we are using, and what she has made so far. It’s fun watching Peyton think of ideas for sewing and cross stitching (she started designing cross stitch patterns too!). She has so many more creative ideas than I have ever had and I can’t wait to see where it takes her!

On top of ALL of that I have been working on costumes in every spare moment I can find. After taking almost two years off from working on my large competition cosplay, I’m finally back at it!

The cosplay I’m making is Francesca from Avalon Code (a game I have never played). I found the image a few years back on Pinterest and fell in love with the entire look. After a year or so of continually coming back to it I decided I needed to make it! I made the teal skirt and hand embroidered the bottom and created the blue purse two years ago. You can find progress pics on my Instagram profile. In the past month I have made the shirt mockup and final shirt, the body of the smallest bag from foam, the large bag’s buckle from foam, the shoe buckets from foam, the pocket for the large bag, and the back portion of the pink skirt. I had never intended on letting this costume sit for so long, but with no conventions came no motivation to work on it. But now that things are back on track I have motivation and lots of new ideas on how to complete some of the pieces I had previously been unsure about.

I also got back to work on Jeremiah’s Tenzin costume (and realized I was farther along than I remembered!) It down to mostly finishing work with is great. It has to be completed by April 9th to wear to the first convention of the year. It also happens to be the first convention where I will be hosting a sewing panel! It is called CreatorsCon and is a convention all about learning and creating cosplays and props.

I wanted to have a new cosplay to wear to the convention (but there’s no way my Francesca will be done in time) so I decided to put together a less involved costume. I decided on a female Robin Hood type look. This way I can wear it to the Medieval Faire and to CreatorsCon.

I thrifted a light green set of curtains and a dark brown curtain set to use as my materials along with a bit of leftover velvet, a scrap of leather, and a dowel rod from a broken clothes drying rack. I used the dowel rod to make my own wooden buttons and I am SO thrilled with how they turned out!

The kids are going with us to the con and Peyton requested a True costume from True and the Rainbow Kingdom. I made the bag and headband, but went easy on myself and bought all the clothes instead of making them myself.

There are still more things I’ve been working on, but that is all I can squeeze in here for now. I hope you are all doing well. Until next time, Happy Sewing!

Whitney

What I Gifted For Christmas

This year I gifted more handmade Christmas gifts than ever before! The best part is I made them mostly from stash fabrics. It felt so amazing to make lovely gifts I knew people would love from fabrics I’ve had for FAAAAAAR too long.

I was at JoAnn fabrics a few months ago during a pattern sale and found two patterns that inspired me. When I got home I dug through some fabrics in our storage building and pulled out a few that needed to be used! One fabric is the underside of a thrifted faux fur blanket (the fur side was used years ago for a costume). Another fabric was bought 12 years ago for a dress (that dress is never going to happen).

I set to work making everything. This is where it got REALLY hard! I could only work on my daughter’s gift when she was at dance class. I could only work on Jeremiah’s when he was at work, after we finished school for the day and had a little down time. The fact that I’m TERRIBLE at keeping secrets made it even harder.

But it was all worth it! Anyway, enough talk. You can see all the handmade Christmas gifts I made in the video linked below.

I would love to know if you gave handmade gifts this year. What was your favorite thing you made? I can’t decide between Peyton’s gift or my Dad’s.

Until next time, Happy Sewing!

Whitney

This entry was posted in Blog.

Sewing for St. Jude

#forStJude #StJudeAmbassador

If you live in the United States you’ve probably heard about St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. I have seen the commercials on TV for many years, but it wasn’t until recently that I began to learn more about St. Jude. I was watching a show recently (I believe it was Forged in Fire) when a contestant mentioned having been a St. Jude patient as a child. About that same time St. Jude and JoAnn Fabrics reached out to me and asked if I was interested in helping out with their annual fundraising event along with many other content creators.

They sent me two yards of the Fever Fighter fabric (designed by Ethan who is a former St. Jude patient). As I was deciding what to make from the fabric I began to read more about what St. Jude is working to do. They treat children with childhood cancer and other serious pediatric diseases…at NO cost to the families! The families are even given a place to stay and food to eat while their child is receiving treatment. I think that is amazing! But not only that, St. Jude has taken the childhood cancer survival rate from only 20% to over 80% in the 50+ years they have been operating. There are lots of other incredible states and facts, but those reasons alone inspired me to want to work with St. Jude to continue to insure that these kids are getting the treatment they need without families needing to worry about how they would pay for treatment.

In my video I share a little more about what St. Jude is doing while I make a drawstring bag using the fabric I was given.

If you also want to help support St. Jude there are a few ways you can do so. First is donating directly to St. Jude. You can do that HERE. I have set up a campaign to raise $500 for St. Jude and I would love to not only reach that goal, but surpass it with incredible generosity! You can also help by bidding on the bag I made in the video.

I have listed the bag on ebay for auction. All proceeds from the sale will go directly to St. Jude. You can bid on it HERE.

If you aren’t able to help financially, another great way to still be involved is by liking, commenting, and sharing this post and the youTube video so more people will see it and hear about what St. Jude is doing.

I will share the actual step by step tutorial for the bag I made in the video as soon as I can. Until then, Happy Sewing!

Whitney

This entry was posted in Blog.

SALE!

Crop of Characters

A few weeks ago I published the third cross stitch pattern in my Crop of Characters series – Frosty Farms. It’s one of my favorites and the design that gave me the idea for the entire series. To celebrate the new release I’m having a sale on all of my Crop of Character designs. Until the end of November they are 10% off in my etsy store.

So far in the series I’ve shared Sunshine Seeds for Summer.

Pumpkin Patch for the Fall.

And now Frosty Farms for Winter.

Any guesses what the character and crop will be for Spring? The first person who comments the correct character and crop will get a FREE copy of the pattern when it is released! (Comments must be left on this post on my website- WhitneySews.com )

I have been working on some other cross stitch designs as well that I can’t wait to share in the future!

Until next time, Happy Sewing

-Whitney

This entry was posted in Blog.

All the Cross Stitch

Anne and Gilbert Cross Stitch

It has definitely been a bit since I’ve posted here…but I have been keeping busy. I have been doing a lot of cross stitching (and homeschooling and reading and taking care of chickens, etc). I have designed and posted two new patterns in my etsy store.

Last month I shared the second pattern in my Crop of Characters series.

Fall Crop of Characters

The design features a cute pumpkin headed scarecrow growing his own pumpkin patch. I think he is absolutely adorable! You can find that pattern HERE.

The second pattern is one inspired by Anne of Green Gables. Someone from our church loaned us the VHS tapes (the 1985 one) when I was a young teen/pre-teen and I fell in love with Anne of Green Gables! I was listening to the audio book again recently and knew I had to make a cross stitch in honor of Anne.

Anne and Gilbert Cross Stitch

One of the most memorable moments was Gilbert pulling Anne’s braid and calling her carrots then the reference to it at the end of the movie when they are walking through the pasture. *swoon* I thought a sweet little stitching bringing those moments together would be adorable.

Anyway, I knew as soon as I designed the piece that it HAD to be finished on a slate! I searched and searched and searched for a realistic looking slate and finally found one (by accident) at Mardel when I was buying a writing curriculum for my daughter.

You can find the pattern HERE to stitch your own.

I think it would be fun to design several more pieces inspired by classic, beloved books and movies. I already have a couple in the works, but would love to know what books or movies you would like to see a cross stitch design for. BTW I FINALLY got the issue fixed that was preventing comments on my site. So please leave lots of lovely comments for me now 🙂

One last thing I wanted to share is a beautiful piece stitched by Jenny. She used my Sunshine seeds pattern, but adapted it to look like her own cat and I think it turned out adorable!

You can find the Sunshine Seeds pattern HERE.

I addition to all the cross stitching I have started on Halloween costumes for the girls! This year I’m challenging myself to only used repurposed materials. It cuts down on costs, better for the environment, and is a fun, creative challenge for me. I’ve already made most of Skyler’s costume already and have just gotten started on Peyton’s. I’ll try to share some pics when they are done.

I think that’s all I have for today. I hope you are having a wonderful week and happy sewing!

Whitney