Stitching on a Budget

As most of us know, the U.S. economy is pretty lousy right now.  I know first hand.  I’ve been laid off since June.  Cross stitching can be a pretty expensive habit so what do you do when you lose the funding for your favorite (and addicting) hobby?  Well, I’m here today to give you a few pointers that I’ve found helpful to keep your habit fed without giving up necessities (like paying rent or food, etc..) or going into the dreaded cross stitching withdrawal.

1. Especially if you’re unemployed, now is the perfect time to take an inventory.   This is especially useful if your stitching stash area could qualify as a federal disaster area.  Besides, doing stuff when you’re unemployed, however small it may be, will help you avoid depression.  Scrounge up some loose change and go to Wal-Mart and buy the cheapest spiral notebook you can find.  Then grab a pen/pencil and let’s inventory the following items:

  • Fabric – Using a tape measure, measure each piece and write down the dimensions, type of fabric, color and count
  • Threads – Make a list of all the colors of threads you have.  Numbers are fine for stuff like DMC.  Indicate if you have extra skeins somewhere in this list.  I suggest starting a new page for each brand/type of thread.
  • Projects – Go through your stash and find the projects that you really really would like to do.  You probably already have a list somewhere.   Now, in your notebook, write the name of the project, the source (with page number!), the size and type of fabric required, types of threads required (DMC, WDW, etc..) and finished size of design
  • UFOs – Write down the names of projects.  You may want to note if you need to frog or are missing any materials for each UFO
  • Finished Projects that aren’t framed – Take your tape measure and measure the finished area.
  • Kits – If you have any kits or projects that you have partially or fully kitted up, write them down.

If you’re very ambitious you can make an excel or access database file with all this info.  I synced it to my smartphone (to be fair, I used to be cell phone tech support so I am slightly geeky).

2. Make A Plan. Now that you have inventoried and cleaned your stash area, it’s time to make a plan.  I know it’s hard because we all LOVE to collect stash which is one of the best parts of cross stitching but just keep telling yourself that being frugal and restraining yourself is the only way you can still enjoy your hobby.  Cross check your project-to-do list against your fabric list.  You never know when you picked up that piece of linen for a project you’ve lost interest in stitching.  If you can find some matches, cross check the pattern against your thread inventory.  What we are looking for are projects that you already have all or most of the supplies for.  If you can’t find any good matches, it’s time to hit the UFOs and kits because you should already have the materials.

3. Check for sales Now that we have our inventory cross checked against our wishlist, it’s time to see if there’s any sales going on to get those last few items needed to stitch our desired project(s).  If that pattern you really wanted to stitch is on sale this week and and you can afford it, it might be the time to snap it up.  Just don’t go outside your budget.  If everything is out of reach of your pocketbook, it’s time to go thrifting.

4. Go thrifting. Grab your notebook and make a list of the thrift stores in town.  Fortunately for me, Denton has a thrift store that is only for craft items (yeah, I know, lucky me!) but if you don’t have anything like that, chances are that the unwanted crafty items have to go somewhere.  Besides thrift stores, also make note of any major church or community rummages as these are often good places to find cross stitch materials.

The reason we have the notebook is to keep us on task.  We don’t want to go willy nilly buying anything that looks cute because we’re still on a budget!

While we are out scavenging for materials, we are also looking for frames.  Bring your notebook and your tape measure.  You will want to measure the actual visible area of each frame as you generally lose about a quarter inch on each side of the frames so a 5×7 is actually a 4.5×6.5 visible area.  If you find some suitable frames, cross check it with your finished unframed items.  Make sure that the frame is thick enough to accommodate your stitching on backing board.  Some of the best frames come on already framed pictures.  Just remove the existing picture and it’s ready to go.

Here’s an example that I finished recently:

It was an odd sized piece but I found a frame for about $4 at Goodwill that had a freaky picture in it.  So I removed the picture and my husband spray painted the frame and now I have a lovely picture for my daughters’ room.

I also found a nice frame for my Mill Hill “Vino Rosso” at Goodwill.  It used to be the nurse’s prayer.  It was like $2.

Those are just some examples.  I’ll cover finishing on a budget in a different post 😉

About Joy

Rabid stitcher and mother of a preschooler and kindergardener - both with Autism. Stitching is like going to war....with string!

I started playing with string when I was 16 and my mom bought me a Learn-A-Craft kit of a frog (because I love frogs). I discovered that cross stitching is a wonderful hobby when you go to college in the middle of nowhere Minnesota. Now that I'm married with two children, I stitch when I get a chance. Just finished my masters in teaching and hoping to get my first teaching job.

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  1. Angela Cruz-Garcia says:

    What wonderful ideas. Thank you for posting this. This is what I need to do myself.

  2. Check out my blog for some organizational/streamlining ideas to consolidate your stash so you can stitch like crazy. Loretta is a bit geekier than I am but there is nothing wrong with taking stock.
    The other thing we can do is share our stash. We should look through and see what we have and maybe mail it to others that are looking for projects we have already paid for but don’t have the time or inclination to complete? what do you guys think about donating something good from your stash to our friend Loretta?

  3. Lori Winslow says:

    I was just having a discussion with a co-worker that perhaps over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend I should clean out and organize my stash…and here you are talking about the same thing. Guess this means it was meant to be 🙂

  4. The inventory is a great idea. I also have a list of all the mags I have and note any charts I’ll stitch one day. If there are no charts listed for a mag I Ebay it. I average £3 a mag, that’s amazing as the cover price is only £3.99

    Also, keep your freebies organised into genres and/or designers so you can quickly and easily find the ideal chart.

  5. I’ve been on the lookout for frame deals lately. I have so many small pieces that I want to frame but haven’t framed yet… and one piece in particular that I stitched as a gift that I haven’t found the perfect frame for yet.

    I really do need to do an inventory… I’m not worried about buying doubles or anything because I keep a pretty small stash, but a list of what fabric I have in what sizes would definitely be handy to have.

  6. I’ve been buying 2nd hand frames and refurbishing them to be used with my stitching for years. I just finished my first atttempt at resizing a frame for a project… just posted it on my blog this week. Just a note… I use 3/8 foam core to lace my projects to. After putting it into a regular depth picture frame, it sticks out some which is okay because I cover the back with brown paper. It works great.

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