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As with anything you start, you need to be sure what you are getting yourself into before you start. Just like building a house, moving, or starting any new hobby. You need to know th costs first. 

Let’s consider how much it costs to start sewing. After doing some pricing of beginner basic sewing supplies, a beginner sewing machine, fabric and, pattern, I estimate that the average cost for beginning to sew to be around $252. (American prices.) But you can even start for $133 or less if you choose to start with the lowest price and quality for each supply.

Here are my estimated prices that I gathered from a couple of stores in our small town in the mountains of North Carolina. You may be able to find even better prices if you live in a larger city.

ItemCost RangeAverage
Beginner Sewing Machine
$90 – 199$144.50
Sewing Machine
Needles
$3.59 – 4.19$3.89
Hand Needles$2.99 – 3.59$3.29
Thread
$1.79 – 5.39$3.59
Scissors$8.99 – 65.99$37.49
Seam Ripper$1.79 – 5.39$3.59
Flexible Measuring
Tape
$1.79 – 4.19$2.99
Seam Gauge$2.39 – 4.22$3.31
Straight Dressmaker Pins$2.99 – 5.99$4.49
Pin Cushion$2.99 – 8.39$5.69
Fabric Pen/Marker$1.79 – 4.79$3.29
Pattern$1.99 – 30$15.99
Fabric (2 yds)$10 – 30$20.00
$133.09 – 371.13$252.11

I know that money can be tight. So let’s look to see how you may be able to start sewing for even less.

How to Start Sewing for Less

The most important sewing tools are a good sewing machine, a sharp pair of scissors and good quality fabric.

To get a good quality sewing machine, you don’t have to go buy the most expensive machine with all the fancy settings. Sure it’s nice to have a machine like that. But all you really need is a machine that sews straight and zig-zag stitches. I have used just a simple machine for years and have been completely satisfied.

Looking for a More Economical Sewing Machine

1. Family & Friends

First, when you look for a sewing machine you might want to check out a few places before paying full price. You might want to consider asking family and friends if they happen to have a sewing machine tucked away in a closet someplace. One that they haven’t used for years.

They may be anxious to give it to you for free or cheap just so someone will be using it. 

That’s what happened to me. My daughter had bought a sewing machine thinking that she would start learning to sew. Well, life happened. And she never started. It only had about two hours of sewing time. She was more than happy to gift it to me.

2. Garage Sales

Second, you may want to check out garage sales, too. I know that when I moved out of state I sold two of my sewing machines for under $10. We were downsizing. So I was just looking to get rid of as much as I could. Price wasn’t really a factor. So you may be lucky enough to find one at a garage sale. Usually, you can get a really good deal. Or if you happen to be there near closing time, the owner may be more willing to haggle for the selling price.

3. Thrift Stores

Next, I’ve also found sewing machines at thrift stores for $10 – $50. But be sure that you are able to test them out. Make sure that the machine stitches well and that it’s been well maintained. Is it clean? Does it come with any accessories? Is an owner’s manual included? It’s not a big deal if not. You should be able to find a copy online.

4. Sales or Coupons

Lastly, watch for sales and/or coupons from your favorite fabric store. Sometimes you can find some good deals.

Your sewing machine will be your greatest expense. So if you can find a free machine or at least a lower priced one. You may be able to lower your startup cost by at least $50 – $100.

Finding the Right Pair of Scissors.

A good pair of scissors can be a little pricey too. Buying a high-quality pair of scissors is well worth it. But just buy the best that you can afford and everything will be fine.

I remember saving a little out of each paycheck for several months for a pair of gingher scissors. That was about 45 years ago. Guess what? I’m still using them. They’re still my #1 pair of scissors.

At the beginning of your sewing adventure, you may want to start out with a pair that is less expensive. Fiskar scissors are sharp and will work just fine. Make sure that you only use them for cutting fabric. Using them for paper cutting will dull their blades. Even if you only use them for fabric, you may need to replace them every year.

Best Places to Look for Sewing Patterns

Local Stores

If you have a fabric store in town, be sure to get on their mailing or email list so that you receive their weekly ads and coupons. Some stores will regularly put their patterns on sale for $1.99 which is a great deal. It will save you anywhere from $3 – $18.

Also, look for stores that may be going out of business. A couple years ago I got patterns for $.50 & $1.00 each at a store that was closing. I felt like a girl in a candy store. I sure had fun but I spent way too much money. All my purchases were good buys and I’m having fun using everything. So stopping at a going out of business sale can really build your pattern library for less.

Online

Another great place to look is online. Google “free patterns”. You will find many websites that will let you download their patterns for free. Just be prepared to sign up for their newsletter or something else that they are offering.

But the patterns are free which is a terrific deal. You will need to have a printer and plenty of printer paper. Some of the patterns may take up to 50 pages. But you will find a wide assortment of patterns available.

Finding Fabric

Look on the bargain table or remnant bin at your favorite fabric store. If you are making a small project or just a top or skirt, this may be the perfect place to find a gorgeous piece of fabric at a good price.

Also, keep your eye on the weekly ads for fabrics that are on sale. Most stores will have several types of fabric on sale each week.

Next, you might want to check for sales online. I like to be able to hold a piece of the fabric before I buy it. So I only buy from online companies that will send me a sample of the fabric.

What About the Smaller Supplies?

Scour some of the discount stores. You may find many of the smaller tools for $1.

Also, check out thrift stores. I’ve found some great buys there. But be careful when getting patterns at thrift stores. There may be missing pieces.

Double-check with friends who sew. They may have extras that they would be glad to share with you when you are starting out.

Conclusion

As you can see there are many ways that you can cut your beginning costs. If you are willing to do some hunting, you may be able to start sewing for $50 or less. You may not have your dream sewing machine. But it’s always good to have dreams.

Sewing is fun, creative and relaxing (that is when your machine is working right and you don’t make crazy mistakes!).

Come join the fun!