I sew a LOT. I live less than 15 minutes from Joann corporate headquarters and a huge Joann store. That combination can be dangerous to my wallet! Over the past year or so I’ve fine-tuned my shopping strategy and today I’m sharing 10 tips for saving money on fabric and sewing supplies. I reference Joann a lot because that’s where I shop most often, but many of these tips apply to other craft stores. Here we go!
1. Keep a wish list.
If I know I’m going to need a tool, supplies or fabric for future projects but don’t need it right now, I add it to a wish list. When a new sales flyer comes out, I skim through it to see if any of the items on my list are on sale.
2. Keep a recurring needs list.
I keep a list of notions and supplies I use on a regular basis and stock up when they’re discounted or when I have coupons. This is great for things like sewing machine needles, tracing paper, thread, grommets, rotary cutter blades, xacto blades, etc.
3. Keep a supply list for projects you make often.
A lot of sewers keep a large fabric stash. I don’t have the storage space or the budget to do that, so I try to buy fabric only when I plan to use it for a specific project, and I don’t buy extra unless I know the excess will be used. I keep a list of the fabric and notion requirements for things I make often so I have it for reference when I shop. I have notes on everything from table runners and window coverings to tote bags and pajama pants.
4. Compare prices for pre-cuts vs by-the-yard.
Fat quarters of fabric, pre-packaged interfacings and stabilizers, or pre-cut foam can be convenient but they’re usually more expensive than buying those materials by the yard. Do the math and compare prices. As an example, I needed an 11″ x 14″ piece of 2″ foam for a project. A pre-cut chair pad slightly larger than that size was $14.99 and on sale 30% off, while 2″ foam by the yard was $39.99 per yard. It looked like the more expensive option at first glance, but by buying only what I needed and using a 40% off coupon, foam by the yard came out to $8.00 vs. $10.49 for the pre-cut chair pad.
5. Stack discounts.
This is closely related to the “wish list” tip. Joann doesn’t let you use multiple coupons on a single item, but they will occasionally offer coupons for a percentage off your entire purchase, including sale price items. If you’re in need of a higher priced item, it can be worth it to wait until it’s on sale AND you can use a coupon. I did this when I needed a new cutting mat. The original price was $65. Ouch! But mats went on sale for 40% off, and I had a 40% off total purchase coupon. Voila! I got a $65 mat for $23.
6. Sign up for ALL the coupons.
Joann only allows you to use each coupon once. But if you use their app, sign up for coupons by text and email, and get fliers in the mail, you’ll get multiple coupons. The discounts may be the same but the bar codes will be different, so they’re not considered the same coupon. Make sure to check the app while you’re in the store, too. I recently got a one-day-only 40% off your entire purchase coupon through the app that wasn’t available anywhere else.
7. Sign up for other discounts.
Joann has teacher rewards, 4H rewards, military rewards and Girl Scout rewards programs. Check out the eligibility requirements on their website. Unlike other discounts, these can be stacked on top of coupons so they really add up!
8. Sign up for competitors’ coupons.
Joann will accept coupons from Michael’s and Hobby Lobby, including their generic 40% off any item coupons. You must present the competitors’ coupons when you check out, so I keep the apps for both stores on my phone for easy access.
9. Take your coupons with you.
Seriously, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve arrived at the checkout counter and realized my coupons were at home. I finally started cutting out coupons and putting them in my shopping kit as soon as the flyer arrived. Which leads me to…
10. Make a shopping kit.
I keep my lists on my phone and my coupons, a small retractable tape measure, a notepad, a pen and a little calculator live in a zipper pouch in my bag. I paperclip like coupons together and organize them by expiration date. When a new flyer arrives, I toss any expired coupons and add the new ones to my kit.
Having a plan for what I need and a system for using discounts makes sewing much more affordable. Got tips of your own to share? Leave them in the comments!