Ever fancied making your own clothes, stitching your own curtains or learning to upholster? Vintage revival is in, and there’s nothing like being simultaneously thrifty.
But fabric, especially one-of-a-kind or unique prints, can be really expensive — sometimes halting your projects before they’ve got off the ground.
If you’re short of time or would rather not search individual stores, there are some shops that sell fabric at competitive prices. Below, we list where to get free fabric samples/swatches, etc.
The following retailers offer inexpensive fabric, free samples, and swatches:
- IKEA: IKEA’s most basic fabric starts from $1.29 a yard. Designs are a bit limited but if one catches your eye, you could have yourself a bargain. It also offers pre-cuts for fixed prices.
- Warehouse Fabrics Inc: An online-only store, but it has many cool and unique fabrics for under $10 per yard.
If fabric is your thing, it’s well worth registering with as many fabric selling sites as possible, and subscribing to their newsletters, even if they’re priced out of your range. Fabric retailers are just like furniture or clothing retailers — they often have sales to clear previous season stock or make way for new additions.
There are thousands of thrift shops out there. In recent years, trends toward minimalism have led many to clear their homes of unwanted items, meaning there are bargain fabrics to be found.
Thrift shopping takes some patience, especially if your needs are specific, but keep the following tips in mind:
- Look for sheets, curtains, rugs, blankets, and other large-span pieces. Large pieces of fabric in plain shapes are perfect for cutting and sewing into other items. Be sure to inspect the items for stains before buying and wash them before using them. In some cases, you can even find sheets still in their packaging!
- Check for oversized clothes. If you like the print of something, but not the style, buy it anyway and use your stitching skills to unpick and rework the fabric into something new. Remember, it’s important to find clothes that are a bit oversized so you have spare fabric to work with.
Places like Craigslist, Gumtree and eBay can provide access to various amounts and styles of fabric for your project, usually secondhand.
- Cheap fabric
- Potential designer bargains to be found
- People often sell in lots – large amounts of fabric at rock bottom prices
- Shipping/traveling to collect can bump costs
- The inevitability of time wasters
- Relying on pictures
Around the Home
Think about what you’ve already got in your house and how it could be put to new or better use. If you have some old curtains under the stairs or sheets stuffed at the back of your hall closet, it’s probably time to repurpose them.
There are over 5,000 local groups on Freecycle, which is all about not-for-profit recycling.
The site has “wanted” and “offering” ads, so even if you can’t find any fabric being offered, you can advertise that you want some and let the people come to you.
The ReUseIt Network
It’s a bit like a free stuff directory – select your state and see what groups are available in your area. Some are actually Freecycle ones, others are individual groups set up by local recyclers.
It can be a little time-consuming to trawl through so many different free groups, but when you want to get something for free, it can help to do a little bit of legwork.
People are increasingly advertising their items for sale on Facebook in designated groups or the Marketplace. If you haven’t already, join some yard sale groups in your area and keep an eye out for fabric. You can advertise that you’re looking for fabric too.
Fabric Samples, Swatches, Scraps
If you’re into quilting, patchwork, or hunting for generally smaller pieces of fabric, you can always take advantage of free samples. It might seem a bit cheap, but why pay if you don’t have to?
Most stores will be happy to cut you off a sample to take home to help you decide, but what you do with it once it’s cut is up to you! Some places for fabric freebies include:
- Pottery Barn: You don’t even have to leave your house to take advantage of free samples here. Simply choose up to 15 fabrics, fill in the form, and Pottery Barn will send them to you free of charge.
- Crate and Barrel: The upholstery arm of the chain is no stranger to handing out freebies to help you decide on your overall purchase. Call or pop into a store to select up to five free samples.
- West Elm: Available online or in-store, West Elm has a lot of in-season fabric samples to choose from. Make your selection, fill in your details, and await your swatches!
Related Article: Are Hobby Lobby Classes Any Good (Sewing & More…)?