Sew Cheap: Take the Dollar Store Challenge!

Our dollar doesn’t go as far as it used to. In these days of high prices, inflation, and everything else, crafting and sewing can be a great stress relief. We know our sewing hobby can get pricey, too, but there are ways to make a dollar go further and have fun while doing it! Since August 8th was National Dollar Day, we decided to participate in a Dollar Store Challenge.

The Rules

Pretty easy, we think:

  • $10 limit
  • Find supplies for studio organization, unusual products to use for crafting, and/or tools to create something new

Taking the Challenge: Meg’s Apron

You can find lots of basic sewing supplies at the dollar store —thread, pins, scissors, and so on — my advice is to skip those and pick up some elastic. I’ve found that the pins and scissors aren’t very sharp and the thread breaks, but the elastic (I bought mine at Dollarama, in Canada) is high-quality and it comes in various widths. I often head over to the dollar store to restock my elastic supply; ½” and 1″ wide elastics were the first two products I put in my basket for this challenge.

My plan was to sew a new apron with dollar store supplies. I’ve been saving money by cooking at home more often, so I wanted to make a new apron. It’s hard to find “yardage” at many dollar stores, but what you can find are tablecloths that can be up to 2½ yards of fabric. score!

Apron sewing supplies from the dollar store

Overall, I’m a very clumsy person. I’m always spilling and dropping things when I cook, so when I saw this adorable green and white checkered, vinyl tablecloth, I thought it would make the perfect apron. Vinyl can be easily wiped clean without having to do laundry after every spill.

I had already made the Gingham Gourmet Apron, so I knew it would come together quickly. I wanted to hack it with the elastic that I got at the dollar store, so I decided to elasticate the pocket and neck strap.

Here’s how I did it!

I cut out the apron piece, the neck, and waist tie pieces according to the instructions. If you have an old apron that you like the fit and shape of, you can lay it out flat and use it as a template.

Sewing Dollar Store Challenge: Making an apron out of a tablecloth

I cut the pocket piece 4″ larger than the pattern and then stitched elastic to both edges.

On the top of the pocket, after I zigzag stitched the ½” elastic on the wrong side, I flipped it to the wrong side and topstitched. With the apron piece face up on my table, I pinned on the elasticated pocket, letting the bottom of the pocket gather in, and then topstitched around the side and bottom edges.

Tip: If you use a vinyl tablecloth for fabric, make sure to switch to a Teflon sewing machine foot to make sure it glides through the machine nicely.

To finish all the edges of the apron, I finger-pressed the top neckline and hemmed 1″ to the wrong side, and hemmed ½” on the side edges. I topstitched around the entire apron.

For the waist ties, I folded the entire tie in fourths and used clips to keep the folded edges in place while I stitched them together.

I placed the straps on the side corners of the apron and stitched them in place over the existing topstitching.

For the gathered and elasticated necktie, I stitched the neckband in half widthwise, wrong sides together, and flipped to the right side. Using a safety pin, I threaded though the 1″ wide elastic until it was a comfortable length for my neck, and pushed up the excess fabric.

Using clips, I positioned the neck piece on the top of the apron and tried it on before topstitching in place.

I love my new apron — it’s wipeable and so cute! I think the elasticated necktie and pockets are a great way to make the apron unique and secure.

After I finished my apron there was still plenty of tablecloth fabric and elastic left. Of course, I didn’t throw my scraps away — the remaining fabric will make great placemats, and I can always find a use for elastic.

Meg’s Challenge Dollar Breakdown

Tablecloth: $4.00

½” wide elastic: $1.25

1” wide elastic: $1.25

Total Materials Cost: $6.50

Success! With change to spare.

Taking the Challenge: Kathleen’s Notions Drawer

My notions drawer was a hot mess. Check it out:

For my Dollar Store Challenge, I set out to find some organizing tools, because an organized sewist is a less stressed sewist! I headed for the storage bin section at my local Dollar Tree, and I found a bounty of useful containers. I choose a calming blue (can you tell that a messy studio stresses me out?) and went to work.

Dollar Store Challenge: Storage containers for organizing a sewing notions drawer.

First, I sorted my notes into like items. I chose to keep only my most used notions in this drawer, keeping the rest in my storage closet. I find that having a little extra room in drawers like this keeps them tidier because I’m not piling things on top of each other when I clear the decks for a new project.

Here’s the after:

Ahhh. Ready to start anew.

I’m so happy with how this project turned out. I feel calmer already. Plus, my total was just 5 bucks! Our dollar store is now a $1.25 store and I got four sets of bins (two of the long, skinny containers) and a set of ice cube trays.

By the way, I saw the ice cube tray storage idea in an issue of Sew News Reader Tips. Such a great idea for keeping small items tidy and accessible. If you have a tip for Reader Tips, email Sew News at sewnews@goldenpeakmedia.com.

Take the Challenge with Us!

We challenge you to make a dollar store project, get organized with dollar store products, find a new tool, etc.! If you take the Dollar Store Challenge, make sure to email us a picture and description of your project (to sewnews@goldenpeakmedia.com) and you could be featured on Sew Daily and Sew News Magazine. And be sure and share a picture of your Dollar Store Challenge project on your social media channels and tag it #SewingDollarStoreChallenge—we can’t wait to see what you make!

Here at Sew Daily, we promise to continue to give you sustainable, smart, and savvy ways to save money while sewing. Happy sewing!

Meg & Kathleen


More Money-Saving Tips for Crafting

The folks at our sister site, Interweave Jewelry, took the Dollar Store Challenge, too! See how they transformed three pairs of $1 earrings!

Our friends over at Quilting Daily just released 5 Tips for Making Your Dollar Stretch in the Studio. Check out their compilation of fun tips, fresh ideas, and ingenious hacks to keep everyone quilting and crafting on a budget.


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