Monday, April 15, 2013

Proverbs 31 on the Farm- Finding Quality Materials For the Best Prices

 Proverbs 31 on the Farm: April

She shops around for the best yarns and cottons, and enjoys knitting and sewing.  She's like a trading ship that sails to faraway places and brings back exotic surprises.
I am trying to build up a selection of hand made items in order to start an online store.  Not long ago, I chose some light fabrics, from a collection of inexpensive material I had picked up, to make some aprons.  I cut them and sewed them, spending precious time.  But as I sewed the fabric I realized it didn't have the same feel to it that fabric I've used previously did. It wasn't as high in quality.  The aprons were still pretty and they weren't falling apart or anything.  But if I'm going to sell something I want it to represent the care and attention I'm putting into it.  Now I will have to sell them for a fraction of the price.
It really made me think twice about buying whatever is the least expensive without first analyzing the item.  I don't want to just find the best deal, I want to find quality materials for the best price.
I won't barge ahead with a fabric just because I like the color either. 

 Local Deals
 She shops around for the best yarns and cottons...

Check Craigslist

This is a great way to get started.  Fellow blogger Lisa John Rupertus from As They Grow Up says "For starting a new craft I have had success posting an item wanted on Craigslist. When I started sewing - I posted in search of sewing items to help a beginner. I had a lady give me two humongous boxes of fabric." 

I like to keep an eye out for crafting items and check once a week or more.  If you need something specific you can post an ad requesting what you need.  I have to be careful with Craigslist though, because I tend to find things I "need" all the time :)  

Facebook Groups
You might search on facebook to find a local classifieds group or I have seen them called garage sales as well. We have a local page that is similar to a newspaper classifieds but it's much busier!  You can find almost anything you want on there.  Or, even sell off part of your stash if it's threatening to spill out of your crafting storage.

Local Stores
 There's a certain Super Store I try to avoid as I have found their fabric to be cheap quality and yarn selection limited.  But I do like to frequent our local quilting shops and craft stores.  The materials can come at a higher price though.  So what are you to do on a small budget?  Or when your sense of justice won't let you spend top dollar on fabric?  Coupons and sales, people.  
Also check the clearance racks.  Especially if you only need a smaller piece of fabric.  You can get the ends of the bolt for a reduced price sometimes. 

Ticia Messing from Adventures in Mommydom recommends you  time the sales at Hobby Lobby, JoAnn Fabric, and Michaels. She also noted that Hobby Lobby gives an extra 10% off for charitable purchases (school, churches, etc).  

 JoAnn fabric will give teachers, including homeschool teachers a discount.  And you can also get a student discount
We only have a JoAnn Fabric and Ben Franklin's here (it's Montana, what can I say)  but I recently found out that when you sign up for the JoAnn Fabric e-mails it allows you to load the coupons on your phone to use in the store.  So no forgetting your flyer on the counter as you rush to load your children and all of their accessories in the truck and get out the door.

I recently bought all of the fabric and supplies at JoAnn Fabric to make a purse as a gift for my sister-in-law.  And I didn't pay full-price for anything.  I found part of the fabric I needed on sale, picked up another portion out of the clearance section, used coupons for the buttons and thread and was even able to get another percentage taken off the fabric that was on sale due to a white thread on the brown fabric. The sales clerk was very helpful and tried to see if it was a loose thread that would pull out and when it wouldn't, offered to discount it more if I wanted the fabric.  Of course I did!  It doesn't hurt to ask about items with a small flaw, as long as your willing to work with it.  Although because I'm a space cadet sometimes, I forgot to cut around it.  But it's not super noticeable. Gives it character, right?  Oops...

So what would have cost me $38.79 at full price cost me only $16.51.  It also cost me an irritated baby who needed a nap and girls that were starting to climb the shelves because it did take some planning and comparing.  So just be aware that you may not walk in and find exactly what you need in five minutes! 

This is the project in progress.

Another tip is to sign up for local craft and fabric shop e-mails, newsletters and facebook pages.  That way you can keep an eye out for sales and coupons.  And classes!  Local shops tend to have some of the best classes for learning new skills. 

Fabric and Yarn Quality
Once you are on your way to the store with your list and coupons loaded, how do you make sure you are getting the good stuff? 

This short description of poor and good quality fabric is from

Poor quality fabric is thin, see-through and often has dull colors. The design may not be printed clearly and may overlap in areas. The fabric may be loosely woven or have "flaws" or "slubs" (irregularities) in the threads and often, will not sit "square". Cheaper fabric also has a tendency to shrink markedly when washed and patterns may become skewed and not correctly aligned.

Good quality fabric, on the other hand, will have a smooth and even weave, with no irregularities in the fibres. The cloth itself will be soft to handle, and not easily see-through. Printed patterns will be clear and crisp, without flaws.

I'm making this article on fabric selection mandatory reading for myself. I have read most of it, and have learned a lot!   I want to go back through it through and make a little reference page for myself. 

This is a fantastic article to help you choose quality yarn.  I mainly buy Lion Brand yarn because it's affordable and I've had good experience with it.  But I would like to branch out a little more and try some other brands.  The Lion Brand site has an extensive list of great patterns too!  You have to sign up in order to view them, but it's free.  I think almost everything I have knitted thus far has come from one of their patterns and I'm always happy with the way it turns out.

Buying Online
Like a trading ship that sails to faraway places...

I have never bought yarn or fabric online. But I thought I would share a couple of my favorite sites for sewing tutorials(a description of how to make a project without a store-bought pattern.) 

The first one is Sew4Home.  They have tons of home decor projects, some fun things to wear like scarves and aprons and stuffed toys.  I made this Funny Bunny from one of their tutorials. 

This is Benjamin.  Benjamin does not have eyes because he was made for our baby.
Another one I really like is Sew Mama Sew.  It has tutorials for things like home decor, children and adult's clothing, cloth diapers and toys.  I've made their Fold up and Snap Bib.  I don't have a picture of any of them though as I gave them all as gifts.

And the last one is This Mama Makes Stuff.  I made this He's All Boy cap for my son.  It wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be.  I used material from one of my grandpa's old shirts and I love this cap!  It's so stinkin' cute...
All have great tutorials on learning new skills as well.

The following information is from recommendations that others have made on buying fabric or yarn online.

I asked some fellow bloggers where they find their crafting materials. Laura Heinle from  has this to say about "They have some really good quality yarn at affordable prices. Their harmony wood needles are awesome too!"

I don't have experience with the following sites, but have seen them recommended multiple times.  I have them on my list of where to order from, and thought I'd share. - This site has more specialty yarns.  They are still more expensive than some yarns, but if you are looking for a specialty yarn they do have some good sales.

Yarn Reviews:
One of the problems with buying online is you can't physically inspect the item before you commit to it.  One way to amend this is to read others experiences.
I found Knitter's Review especially helpful.  I am knitting washcloths and had seen that Lion Brand yarn had a Kitchen Cotton yarn available.  I wasn't sure why it was different, if it was worth buying specific yarn to make a washcloth with or if I could just use what I have left here at home.  Because of the review I was able to determine that while I think I will use up some of my yarn, when I need to buy more I will definitely be looking for this. is another site you can get information from.  There are free patterns, yarn information, and you can shop for yarn and accessories.  It also has a lovely sense of community.


Here's an article on 30 great places to buy fabric online that seems very helpful.  But like I said, I have no experience there.

Well I hope this has proved helpful.  If you have any experience you would be willing to share, I would love to hear from you.
Happy crafting!
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