A popular crafting myth is that you can always save money by making your own home decor items. While this can be true in some cases, I know that most quilts I make are going to be more expensive than any mass-produced quilt I can find at a store. Not only do some crafters not take their own time into consideration (we are all valuable and skilled!), but in some cases, the supplies themselves can be more than the cost of buying a ready-made item.
The key is to keep your craft supply cost down to a reasonable level.
If you follow my blog, you’ll know that I love to make items on a budget to keep the cost of making quality items low. I don’t have much disposable income, and most of my crafts are made with supplies that I purchased prior to having the bills that came along with home ownership. However, purchasing new supplies as necessary is inevitable.
Follow my tips and you too can save money while crafting! You can purchase quality supplies at a lower cost if you shop smart.
Shop Around Online
Comparison shopping is important! Don’t buy the first item you see. Do a quick search for the identical or similar product on a few of your fabric supply sites to see how the prices compare.
However: keep in mind shipping fees. If you save money on the product itself but the shipping price offsets it, it’s not a good deal for you. If the product is available at multiple sites, I like to add the items to my cart and calculate the total with shipping before proceeding with checkout.
Buy in Bulk (When It Makes Sense)
If you know that you’ll be using a lot of the same item, save by buying in bulk. For example, I was making a lot of items using zippers for craft shows a few years ago. I originally purchased zippers one by one, but even with a 50% off sale, the unit price was higher than buying a 50-piece zipper lot from an online source.
When buying in bulk, it’s not a good deal if you’re not able to use enough of the lot to make up the unit price difference. For example, let’s imagine a scenario where a zipper cost $1.00 individually versus a zipper lot of 50 for $25 (meaning that each zipper is $0.50 each). If you use more than 25 zippers, you’ve saved money on the zippers buying the lot. If you only ever use 10 zippers, that means you’ve actually paid an equivalent of $2.50 each for the ones you used instead of $1.00. Yikes!
This tip requires planning ahead, but it works well if you don’t mind buying off-season. Fabric stores, for example, rotate their fabrics seasonally for holidays. The best time to buy holiday fabric is usually right after the holiday is over because they are making room for other inventory. I have built up a decent stash of Christmas fabrics I’ve purchased post-Christmas at 75% off or Buy 1 Get 2 M free that I use to make Christmas gifts each year for different recipients.
Similarly to my buy-in-bulk tip: if you’re not going to ever use it, it’s not a good deal. Don’t just buy it because it’s on a deep discount unless having it on your shelves brings you great joy. I know, it’s hard to resist!
Shop Yard Sales
In the spring and summer, I go for weekend walks to peruse the neighbourhood for garage sales. You can often find people destashing their supplies, whether it be fabric, yarn, paper, etc, at yard sales. Yard sales are nice because you can see the condition of the items before you buy them unlike online shopping. Shop early in the day for the advantage of having the best picks, but if you return at the end of a sale, you may be able to score a big deal from someone who doesn’t want the hassle of packing up all of their items to be donated.
Shop Used Sites and Apps
Traditional online stores are not your only online option. I frequent sites and apps that offer used goods locally. In my local area, this includes online venues like Kijiji, VarageSale and Tradyo. Facebook buy-and-sell groups for your city or region are also great!
Use Coupons and Wait for Sales
If your favourite craft store offers coupons, use them! For example, I never shop at Michaels without a coupon on hand. Online coupons are available at many stores as well so you’ll always have a coupon with you if you carry a smart phone.
Sign up for e-newsletters for your favourite stores so you can watch out for sales.
Use a flyer cellphone app like Save.ca to check if your favourite store has the supplies you need on sale without having to waste money on gas.
Stack coupons and sales when the situation allows you to do so!
I shop thrift stores whenever I can. You never know what people will donate. Every trip is a new adventure! I’ve found everything from useful sewing notions and fabrics at a fraction of the price to larger items like vintage sewing machines and knitting machines. I go down all the aisles because not everything will be in the designated craft section.
Supplement With What You Have
Most importantly, before you even go shopping, shop your own house or ask the people you know. Have you bought the required item (or something similar enough) before and squirrelled it away? Did a friend buy the tool you need then never end up using it? You may be able to borrow or trade.