As I have a difficult budget yet a constant need to sew, it can be hard to make as much as I want to. Because of this I have had to research cheap fabrics both from shops and online, and I have also had to balance the need for reasonably-priced fabric against the obvious problems with quality which can occur when fabrics are made to be so cheap.
I have found the need to buy cheap fabrics when using a new pattern, as there is nothing worse than wasting expensive fabric on an ill-fitting garment. Also due to being on a student budget, I often try to mix an expensive piece with cheaper extras, for example using a luxury fabric as the shell of a jacket, then using a cheaper lining and zip in order to keep it within my budget.
I am compiling a list of the places I have found that are good for affordable fabric, however if you know of any more (either UK based or International with reasonable shipping prices) then please leave a comment!
- Fabric Land – Stores in Bournemouth, Portsmouth, Southampton, Reading, Kingston, Basingstoke, Bristol, Sailsbury and Brighton. Although the website doesn’t show much, the stores are jam-packed with cheap fabrics, most under £6 a metre. They are mostly poly-cottons (usually around £2-3pm) however they also sell chiffons, fleece, swimsuit fabric, crepe de chine and I’ve even bought linen there too. Although the stores are not as pretty as boutique haberdasheries, they are like a treasure trove of affordable fabric and it only takes a little time to find something great.
- Abakhan – Remnant store in Manchester.
- Goldhawk Road, London – A bit of a cheat as it’s actually a whole road but there is a lot of choice and a lot of options for affordable fabric!
- Walthamstow, London – Again a cheat but great shops and a market providing options for cheap fabric.
- Shaukat, London – Huge range of Liberty fabric at discounted prices (however be careful of being hit by the VAT charge, which is added on at the checkout as the prices on the website do not include this).
Tips for buying fabric online (particularly from eBay)
Descriptions of fabrics can be a bit varied on sites such as eBay, as sellers often add all sorts of words into the titles and descriptions in order to gain more views and for their items to appear in more searches. Because of this it is often difficult to know exactly what you are going to receive. A lot of fabrics have a very clear look, so you can tell from the photographs what type they are, for example chiffon, which can clearly be seen as transparent in the photographs. However there are many which are not listed with close photographs or the photos are ambiguous, allowing a polyester to look like a cotton or a viscose.
Although I generally just order these fabrics as I am incredibly impatient, I do recommend that if you are buying fabric for a particular project, or if it is a little beyond your price range that you request a sample of the fabric before you buy. Most sellers are happy to do this and most offer it free. It is worth it as you get to feel the fabric which is the primary downside of buying online.
Although eBay can be fantastic for cheap fabrics, with loads below £4 a metre, it is worth considering that the fabric is not going to be the quality that you would get for the higher price. You really do get what you pay for in terms of quality with fabric; however if you are on a restricted budget, cheap fabrics can give the look of a high quality garment without the price tag, they may just be a little more difficult to work with.
With these fabrics, as you often won’t know the exact make-up of the fabrics, I ALWAYS suggest pre-washing, as you never know how the fabric might react of whether it might shrink. Theres nothing worse than a beautiful finished garment shrinking in the wash! Katie from Papercut Patterns suggests treating your fabrics in pre-wash as you intend to treat the garment later on, for example if you are going to dry-clean a garment, it needn’t be pre-washed however if you intend to machine wash a garment, the fabric should be pre-washed in the machine at the usual temperature.
- Regency Rags
- The Textile Centre (Free shipping if your order comes to £15 or more)
- Shazzan Fabrics
- Minerva Crafts and Fabric
- Neotrims (Great for ribbing and knit/sweatshirt fabrics)
- Argylemike01 (Affordable Liberty Print Fabric. Limited selection but some for £10 a metre rather than Liberty’s £22.)
- CheapestfabricsUK (Great for Crepe de Chine and polyester.)
I haven’t personally ordered from or shopped in all of these places so I can’t comment on service or quality from each one specifically. Also I am not being compensated for sharing these links, I just think they might be beneficial.
Hope this post is useful! Please let me know if you know of any more!