More Pretty Vintage Fabric

Look, more gorgeous vintage fabric purchases – aren’t these pieces pretty? With vintage fabric, it really is one-of-a-kind. If you say no to buying it today, it may not be there tomorrow! Which is so hard to resist. Hence, the lovely pieces below!

Here’s a wonderful 1940’s floral cotton seersucker:

And this one is a 1940’s vintage rayon crepe:

I bought these two pieces before the layoff, so it’s with a bit of guilt that I picked up my parcel from the post office. Excitement to get a package in the mail, and guilt for spending money on more fabric! (There may still be a package or two in transit but once they arrive, I’ll be good, I promise.)

The fabric budget has been cut back to practically zero – ok, it should be zero but what if I need lining or thread? So I’ll be sewing from the stash from now on. Luckily, my fabric stash is well-stocked!

Tell me, how do you keep control of your sewing spending? Do you have a monthly budget and keep track of your purchases? Do you ballpark it in your head and keep it reasonable? Or do you treat yourself to anything that strikes your fancy (lucky you!)

Any tips for me, besides avoiding my local fabric stores?

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27 Responses to More Pretty Vintage Fabric

  1. julia November 7, 2010 at 6:32 am #

    Since I’ve been only sewing for 2 years, I don’t have a big stash. But I have enough experience with yarn stash that I know there’s no point in having too much. I have had too many skeins sitting here for too long, most of which I don’t even like anymore. I try not to let that happen with the fabric. I mostly buy what I need for the next couple of projects. Still, I always need something or other like matching thread or buttons etc.

  2. lap November 7, 2010 at 6:35 am #

    Oh so pretty! I would be itching to make something in that seersucker immediately in spite of the impending winter.. Two of my new etsy fabric finds are definitely summer-weight, and it’s going to be hard to put warmer creations first out of necessity and my need for immediate gratification..and having just scored some delightful vintage fabrics myself I want to ask you if your first step is gentle laundering? I know I’ve washed vintage finds from estate and garage sales certainly, often because of must or elderly smells, and I’ve had good luck doing so, but somehow the vintage etsy finds seem more magical and special. Deep inside I want to launder the fabric as I would the garment, but if a dress is going to have ruffles or pleating, I wouldn’t launder it anyway. I’d love your take on fabric prep! (for the sewtionary perhaps?)

  3. Irene November 7, 2010 at 6:45 am #

    I have never been good at appropriating budgets for any of the needs in life. I only know if a purchase is reasonable or not. I only buy fabric if it’s on sale for a very decent price. My favourite place to dig is in the clearance section when it’s on for 50% off. I’m also very lucky to be the one that people give fabric to when they decide that they will never sew again. Some of these pieces work for me. Some don’t. Theoretically, I would think that fabric should be part of one’s “clothing budget”, but then, I’ve never had one of those, so what do I know. Luckily, I have enough of a stash at this point, that I can keep sewing for quite a while before I run out of fabric.

  4. lisa o. November 7, 2010 at 6:53 am #

    I’m terrible at buying fabric. I’ll see cute print, and as long as it’s a reasonable price, I’ll buy it. My problem is that I often have no idea what I want to do with it and buy ‘extra’ just in case, so often spend more than I needed to (not that I know it at the time). If I find a sale, I’ll always stock up on basics that I know I’ll use, like basic black, white or navy thread, buttons, zips etc.
    I’ve just moved cities and am job hunting, so I’ve put a freeze on sewing spending for now too. A great environmentally friendly and free way to pick up sewing bits and pieces is Freecycle. I’ve picked up patterns, zips, lace, fabric etc that might otherwise have been thrown away!

  5. K-Line November 7, 2010 at 7:05 am #

    Great question. I really try to stay out of the fabric shops – because fabric is like crack! But, of course, one needs to buy things for planned projects. So my goal is to know what I intend to make next (I look forward 3 projects generally). I buy all the things required (sometimes I need to visit a few stores as I’m deciding how to proceed) and then I try to stay the hell away from temptation.

    Since I’m pretty new at sewing, though I do know places that sell AWESOME fabric i.e. woven cashmere at 400 bucks a yard?!, I don’t buy them. I mean, I’m never buying at 400 bucks a yard, but I won’t go above 15 bucks, unless it’s a special thing, and even then I try to get my more expensive fabric on sale for 15 bucks at the top end.

    As I improve in my technique – and as I remake TNTs – I will spend more on the fabrics because I’ll have better control over the outcome. For example, I’m going to make a tailored jacket sometime in the next couple of months. The first one will be from 15 dollar fabric, the one I make next (presuming I love it) might be 25 dollar fabric.

  6. K-Line November 7, 2010 at 7:10 am #

    I think you are a pretty good position, T. You have a huge stash and lots of talent and experience. This will be a wonderful test of your abilities. Women throughout the ages have been confronted with this scenario. You’ll be pulling on a time-honoured tradition of resourcefulness. I’m really looking forward to see what you make!

  7. Patty November 7, 2010 at 7:16 am #

    I’m sort of along K-Line’s way – I try to buy for specific projects. Although that’s not totally helpful to control spending, as I am capable of planning, oh, 362 projects at once! And I ALWAYS forget about all the extra stuff (interfacing, thread, zips, facings, lining) and will be like “Oh, this fabric is $15 a yard, but I only need 2 yards, cheap…” and then, well, you know how it goes.

    I think the best way to control spending is to avoid temptation. That whole ‘buy it now for tomorrow it may be gone’ mindset is a POWERFUL inducement to buy! Also, when I’m short on cash I get more creative with my buying – like the freecycle thing – it’s easy to go to Joann’s or wherever and have a ton of choices, but there are other options out there (including not ‘perfect’ options from my own stash!)

    Finally, when I’m SUPER low on funds, but still want projects to work on I grudgingly turn my focus on mending and the endless adjustments I could do on RTW items in my wardrobe to make them fit or look better. Not as exciting as something new, but a good use of my time and generally only thread is required!

  8. Misty November 7, 2010 at 7:24 am #

    I don’t sew yet, but I knit. I only buy yarn for my next project or two. I don’t buy random yarn without having a specific project in mind, and I don’t buy it very far ahead of time.

    If your stash starts diminishing, and you know how to knit, you might work on some cardigans or sweaters. They take a long time and will keep you happily occupied until you have a bit of spending money again to buy some more fabric. And who doesn’t need a nice, snuggly hand-knit cardigan to go over a beautiful, vintage-fabric dress? Or a fabulous hand-knit lace scarf or wrap? Those will keep you busy for a long time!

  9. Karin November 7, 2010 at 7:29 am #

    I ball park it in my head. My budget is small, so it’s easy to do! I’ve quit buying cheap fabric that looks cheap. I have enough ugly fabric for “muslins” to last a life-time. I try to wait and just by a moderate amount of nice stuff.

  10. Mary November 7, 2010 at 7:30 am #

    Nice vintage fabric…good for you! Don’t feel guilty, you need a little boost to get going on your new ventures! I see-saw back and forth on sewing expenditures. I don’t deny myself (my fabric closet is evident of that), but I don’t hit every sale that drops in my email box either. I find shopping the stash helps when I am feeling itchy for new fabric because I often find pieces I forgot about when I reorganize. I also allow myself free rein on fabric found at our local thrift store as it is dirt cheap and often the great vintage stuff I am looking for anyway! Also Craigslist can sometimes be a treasure map…sometimes people are looking to unload fabric and sewing things for free, so check that periodically. Take heart…I know you will do awesome and this layoff is just impetus to move you forward to your truer destiny!

  11. Maureen November 7, 2010 at 7:34 am #

    Sigh – I have to say I have waaaay too much fabric in my stash! I promise to be good and not buy any fabric if I don’t have a specific project in mind BUT…. it’s on sale and it’s gorgeous and I know I’ll get around to sewing something for myself and it won’t be available when I need it and…. (I think you get my point). Unfortunately, I still have to go in to the fabric store for thread, zippers and lining and I am too weak! The challenge for me is that I spend so much of my sewing time working on costumes for shows, that I don’t have time to sew for me.

    But, financial times are tough, so I am committed to NOT adding any fabric to my “stash” and only using what I have. I managed to pick up lots of zippers and thread at a local church rummage sale, so I won’t have to go in to the fabric store. Since I’m not designing costumes for a show for the next little while, I should be able to finally get to some of my projects!

    Good luck everyone!

  12. Shannon November 7, 2010 at 7:42 am #

    Both fabrics are lovely, but that seersucker is absolutley scrumptious!! Lucky gal!

  13. Andrea November 7, 2010 at 8:01 am #

    Ooh, I love that teal fabric with the little dots and flowers!

    I have more problems with time than money at the moment, but I find that wish lists are my friend. I try not to buy immediately, but add an item to my list and mull it over. When I am ready to make a purchase, I go to my list and choose from all the good things I found. Occasionally, somebody beats me to them, but there are always lots of others.

    Aren’t you glad you have a nice stash, AND time to take advantage of it? :D I’m sure you’ll create great things!

  14. Molly November 7, 2010 at 8:27 am #

    I try to choose projects and only buy fabric for that project- usually with coupons from Hancock’s or Jo-Ann’s. 40% off makes it reasonable. I only buy patterns on sale (new) and try to stay off of ebay so I don’t endlessly buy vintage patterns. It helps that I can look at something cool and think that I could draft a pattern and make that rather than buy it. Sewing has replaced my desire to shop, so I can justify most things…

  15. vwbug November 7, 2010 at 8:31 am #

    I cant wait to see yor new outfits you make with this fabric. I could see a red boloro over the black I am a sucker for bright colors

    \I am like K-Line fabric is my drug of choice : ) Seem I can go into any store and walk out without buying a thing, but me near fabric and I buy something. Another place I have found great deals in are the second hand stores like goodwill, salvation army. I got 8 yrds of muslin for $1.50.

  16. Alana November 7, 2010 at 8:32 am #

    Bribery, pure bribery. I loose all reason at the fabric store so I literally give myself sewing pocket money for completing the chores I’ve put off because sewing is more fun!
    :) Alana

  17. Mandy November 7, 2010 at 8:36 am #

    My best tip is to go shopping with the mother and pick out stuff that you loooove and hold it and sigh wistfully and say “oh, I loooove this! Wouldn’t this make the cutest dress/skirt/shirt/doo-dad?” to the mother. Then put it back sorrily… and wait for it… go back and touch it again if you have to… eventually my mom goes “OH ALL RIGHT I’ll pay for it”. There’s my best tip for saving money on fabric.

  18. Pam November 7, 2010 at 8:52 am #

    Great question – and good luck with finding new job – or maybe a new door is opening so you can do what you love! lucky you with the stash and you’re a fantastic sewer!

    For me – when I quilted in my twenties I had a ridunkulous stash:) Seriously, I also didn’t make much money and lived in California (mostly). However, now that I am more established in my career – I don’t have a stash – even though I could put together one! I do have some fabrics but most are muslins or aren’t enough to actually make a garment. I am trying not to have a stash as I live an hour or less from LA’s fashion district. I don’t know if that is a wise approach as it seems I never have enough and am always running out. The only stash materials I bring home is from generally unique stores from my travels (I travel alot for work!)

    I can’t wait to see what you create!

  19. Corinne November 7, 2010 at 8:59 am #

    Wow, life long sewers in DH’s family. I have inherited lots and bought a lot too. Much of inheritance from older members was quilt fabric, still here, just waiting. Much of fashion fabric was wool or wool blends, I’m allergic so that was all passed along to other sewers, probably 200 lbs worth. My MIL worked in a department store that had a fabric department. She had great plans, never got around to it. I have a lot and have been slowly working thru the stash. Haven’t bought fashion fabric for maybe 5 years, yeah I know, it’s a dirty little secret, but not detrimental to health! Storage is always an issue. I belong to a quilting group we call “The Island Girls.” We decided about 18 months ago to work through our respective stashes. We could exchange for certain needs, but we pretended that if it was not already on our stash island, too bad. Use it all up. This year we made 360+ baby quilts to donate and 200 more to give to shelters. We aren’t done yet. Now, THAT is a stash!!!

  20. Gail November 7, 2010 at 1:17 pm #

    Absolutely adore the floral with the black base. I had a dress made out of a very similar fabric in the 1970s.

  21. SA November 7, 2010 at 5:08 pm #

    Advertise on Craigslist,freecycle if you can.See if people will give away fabric sometimes if they have too much or for cheap

    Also check Salvation army.
    Try going to only stores like where fabric is $1-$3 a yard only.Limit yourself to only one fabric purchase/week.Don’t starve yourself or you will feel deprieved !

  22. Homebake Queen November 7, 2010 at 6:28 pm #

    I seem to have the opposite problem to most people… I see a fabric I love, and use all my willpower NOT to buy it. Then I spend all day and night thinking about the fabric, and what I would make with it, and how great it would look, until I get to the point where I think ‘For goodness sake, just go and buy it!” But then of course by the time I get back to the particular shop where I saw the fabric in the first place, it’s all gone! You’d think I would have learnt my lesson the first few times. However, with all the fantastic inspiration on this site, I’m not going to penny pinch any longer – I’m resigned to splurging!! :)

  23. Sue November 8, 2010 at 1:03 am #

    If you need something for your new business adventure then go ahead and buy it, assuming you have the money, if its for personal use then see it as a treat when you’ve reached a goal. You have to keep up to date in business and watch for the latest trends in shops, on the internet and even in magazines and books, which can be a justified business expense. If you use a lot of one thing, muslin or interfacing for instance, try and buy it wholesale, it saves popping out every 5mins to purchase more and is much cheaper.

  24. Miss Shigatsu November 8, 2010 at 5:36 am #

    when i first started sewing i got a gift card from my mom for joann’s, to stock my sewing arsenal. since it’s refillable, i allot myself $10/paycheck to put onto the card. granted, this might be tougher since you’re unemployed, unless you get an unemployment check… then all i have to spend is what’s on the card. i think most stores will have a similar type of a thing with gift cards.

    i only buy patterns on sale, i subscribe to the coupon books from hancock’s and joann’s, as well as the online coupon emails, and i only buy fabric for patterns i know i’m going to make (unless it’s something i HAVE TO GET! like the two times i found a yard of silk in the remnants bin for $5).

    definitely check yard/garage sales (i’ll be joining gertie’s next sew-along using a sheet i picked up at a garage sale) and thrift stores.

    also, take a look at for some inspiration.

  25. Casey November 8, 2010 at 5:38 am #

    Oooh! What lovely finds! Vintage fabrics are always the best, imho. ;)

    I’m on a pretty tight sewing budget myself; it varies from month-to-month and can sometimes mean that I can only get the “basics” and have to sew from my stash. No excuses. I generally keep myself to a “price per yard limit” as well as just a sense of what would be foolish for me to splurge on. I’m also pretty tenacious about tracking down sales; if I see a fabric online that I like I often search around and see if I can find that exact material (or something very close) for less. I’m also lucky that one of the local fabric shops takes coupons from the big chain stores. I have also been known, when feeling weak, to set myself a cash-only limit to avoid pulling out the plastic. hehe.

    Can’t wait to see what you use these for!

    ‚ô• Casey | blog

  26. the fabled needle (jen) November 8, 2010 at 5:01 pm #

    both are so pretty but i especially love the rayon! i have guilt issues with buying fabric as well, considering what a huge stash i have. but when you stumble upon vintage fabric like this, it’s hard to resist (so you’re not alone)! i don’t have any tips although i will from time to time ban myself from the fabric store and force myself to work from the stash. :)

  27. Tasia November 10, 2010 at 7:30 pm #

    Sorry for the slow reply! Fabric is totally my drug of choice. I feel like jumping up and down with joy when the seasons change and new fabric fills the stores! Or when beautiful unique finds start appearing on Etsy… sigh….

    I wash every piece of vintage fabric, unless it’s silk. But cottons, rayons, cotton-blends, even the acetate I made the Picnic Dress from, I washed. I have allergies to cats and dogs so I wash as much as I can! Sometimes used fabric has been close to cats, which will make me start sneezing right away. Also, vintage fabric sometimes has that used or musty smell, so it’s nice to freshen it up.

    Great tips and ideas, a lot of very different outlooks on fabric buying! I’m going to check out the thrift store and freecycle, better than going on a complete fabric-buying freeze but more budget-friendly! Thanks guys!