Tuesday, March 13, 2012

$1 a yard, pt. 2: Things I have made with cheap fabric!

Brown polkadot skirt

Polyester polka dot overload, circa 2005.

Since cheap fabric was such a popular topic with y'all, I thought I'd follow up with a few things I've made with cheap fabric...

But first, I can't believe I forgot:

Another cheap fabric PRO: Bragging rights.

Because when someone says "oh, I LOVE your skirt/dress/trousers/culottes/sequined jumpsuit", what could be more fun than saying:

  1. "Oh this? I got it at the thrift store for $2."
  2. Except maybe "Oh this? I made it."
  3. Or better yet: "Oh this? I made it with some $2 fabric from the thrift store."


Some things I have made with cheap fabric:

  • A $2/yard polka dot poly skirt (Simplicity 5914), from Fulton Fabrics in Brooklyn. Made it in 2005, still wear often. Super fast, super fun (photo at top of post).
  • A superfast and satisfying $3/yard spiral knit print from Sew-Fisticated Discount Fabrics in Boston poly maternity skirt from a non-maternity pattern (Kwik Sew 3513). Wore it to oblivion while pregnant and postpartum, but it's way too big now (and rather pilly):

    Spiral Skirt: Front View (showing waistband)
  • A $1.50/yard full gingham self-drafted maternity skirt. Obviously unwearable at the present time. (And yes, I am pale as a corpse, but I'm cool with that.)

    My No-Pattern Rib-Yoked Full Gingham Skirt!

I was not struck down by any sewing deities as a result. They weren't the nicest things I've ever made... but they weren't the un-nicest, either. And I think full-ish skirts are generally a better bet with cheap un-breathable fabrics since they don't cling to your skin as much as tops.

More lovely cheap fabrics in my stash (not featured in the previous post)

  • Soft 100% cotton purple 70s-style floral apparel fabric, $2.99/yard. (Sew-Fisticated Discount Fabrics)

    Bold Cotton Lawn Floral (Purple, Black, White, Green)
  • African-style cotton wax prints, $1.99/yard (Sew-Fisticated again). No idea if these were made in the Netherlands or West Africa or China, but they're really soft and seem to be of good quality--I think the fishies will make a lovely simple sundress for my daughter, and the leaves/floral could be a Bombshell dress for me. (See also post and discussion at Miss Celie's Pants, "The curious history of 'tribal' prints.")

    African print cotton: red and blue fishesAfrican print cotton: Orange and blue leaves and vines.
  • $1/yard stretch cotton sateen from ridiculous Fabric Mart Fabrics online sale in 2010 (shown in hand, see also "In Defense of Orange"):

  • $2/yard iridescent purple poly/cotton shirting from "It's a Material World" (257 W. 39th St.).

    Iridescent purple poly/cotton shirting
  • $3/yard super-soft lightweight turquoise cotton/lycra blend from Modeani (was across the street from "It's a Material World", but gone now, I think).

    Super soft lightweight turquoise cotton lycra
  • $3/yard B&W polka dot ombre-effect poly matte jersey (Sew-fisticated. Again!):

    B&W polka dot ombre matte jersey

And finally... a few cautionary words of sad warning on...

The perils of sewing with cheap fabric


So, remember how I said the discount Denver Fabrics wool-blend navy jersey in my color-blocked Sew Grateful Skirt was tissue-thin?

Sew Grateful Crazy for Colorblocking Skirt

Yeah, well, the second time I wore my skirt--even with a slip--the thinnest spots began turning into runs, like the kind you get in cheap nylon stockings.

This makes me incredibly sad, but I'm not sure whether darning is even worth it, the fabric is so thin in places. I don't know how I could really reinforce it without taking the whole thing apart, either. SUCH a bummer, because I love the look of it!

Sometimes, you get what you pay for.

So, let's hear your bragging--what's the cheapest thing you've made--and still gotten compliments on?


  1. Modeani lives and in the same location, only it's now called "Nahir." Same grumpy owner, same bad service. But fun!

  2. I *love* cheap fabric. I find it a lot easier to cut into the cheap stuff than the "good stuff," too, because for $2 a yard, who cares if it looks awful when it's done? (Well, I do. But it's easier to cut $2/yd poly than $12/yd silk.)

    But the real reason I came to comment today is that I am wearing a nearly-identical navy and white polka dot skirt today... I think the fabric cost a whole $3/yard, though! (Vogue 7910, view C, recommended without reservation.)

  3. I paid $2 for a cotton duvet cover I turned into my favorite dress ever: I wore it for a long time, too, before she succumbed to summer-sweat-stink. Sigh.

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  5. I've been known to buy garments from the thrift store that are way too big for me - because I saw them as fabric potential, regardless what the garment was.

  6. Hmm. The first things I made when I re-upped my sewing a couple of years back were jackets for my kids, from burlap-looking curtains I was given as hand-me-downs. I can't imagine putting synthetic burlap on my windows, but they made pretty cute coats, if I do say so myself. Of course, after I bought lining and buttons and interfacing, they were not nearly so cheap... (that is usually my downfall with cheap fabric)

    I get loads of compliments on my Minnie Mouse dress, which was made entirely of super-cheap thrift store wtf fabric :)

  7. That's funny to see you post about Sewfisticated Fabrics -- I live about a mile away from there and must resist (RESIST!) stopping in when on my way to the grocery store. The African prints are worth the trip, as well as checking out all the blingy quinceanera tiaras.

  8. I'm not sure this counts but I made a pair of jeans out of old jeans crazy quilt style and those were beauties!

  9. You're right. There's nothing better than saying you made something fabulous for 2 bucks. I think the most cost effective thing I've sewn is the floral Jalie 2921 shirt. I think that rayon jersey was on sale for under 5 bucks a yard, and I used about a yard. Oh, and my floral Pendrell was made with a synthetic woven that was 3 bucks a yard, I think.

  10. I don't know what to choose as my cheapest garment. Let's say my last dress : . I got four yard for 2€ . I love to bargain with the sellers on the markets :p

    You're rignt about the downside of cheap fabric, I made this turtleneck with cute cheap fabric and now i'ts full of holes :

    I'm sorry for your skirt !

    I love your purple floral fabric :p

  11. ALL my handmade clothes (for the most part) were made inexpensively, because I'm cheap cheap cheap. I repurpose thrifted sheets, tablecloths and curtains all the time. The most expensive fabric I've ever bought was some $12.99/yd. ponteroma knit, but it was 60 inches wide and I only bought one yard and I didn't use a pattern for it so the overall cost of that skirt wasn't bad. I do regret some of the things I've made from cheap broadcloth or gross poly lining, and I've had horror stories with $0.99/yd. fusible interfacing, but until my skills improve greatly I'm not even going to touch anything fancy.

  12. For my older son, the little jacket that I made from a thrift store Pottery Barn twill pillow sham. Even lined and with a hood, all total, it cost me $5.25 to make and it's awesome. My little guy was wearing it yesterday and I was reminded how much I love that jacket.

    I've never done quite that well for myself, but my recent least expensive project that was still wearable is the pair of purple topstitched skinny jeans that I made from $4/yd fabric at Denver Fabrics. I can almost always find quality denim for that price there.

  13. Most of my clothes these days are made with fabric I obtained for pennies on the dollar... I wouldn't call it "cheap fabric," per se, but more like "awesome fabric that was super cheap to buy." :) I get lots of my stuff at yard sales, thrift stores, and the flea market, so it's not out of the question to get some kind of wonderful silk or rayon for a couple of dollars.

  14. I'm lucky to have the $2.97/yd table at G Street Fabrics. I've had some awesome finds.

  15. Hey Mikaela,
    I have nominated you for the Liebster Award.
    Deets on my blog :)


  16. Because my sewing stash is out of control, I no longer have the cheap fabric debate. But I certainly do have the cheap yarn debate!


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