It’s that time of year! Green grass, budding flowers and garage sales! At below thrift store prices, though, it’s easy to come home with too many potential projects. Here are some tips for productive bargain hunting. I’ve written them from the perspective of a sewer and knitter, but most apply to all types of crafts.

Go online. Check the newspaper classifieds and craigslist. Search for terms like craft, yarn, fabric, sewing, etc. and read through the ad. If you’re looking for fabric by the yard and the description says fabric is cut into quilting squares, skip it!

Make a list. Group sales that are near each other and start closest to home. Save the sale on the other end of town for last. You want to spend more time bargain hunting and less time in the car.

Stick to the basics. Garage sales are a great way to enhance your stash. When you’re shopping without a specific project in mind, look for neutral fabric, yarn and ribbon. Stock up on batting, interfacing and thread.

Stay focused. Go with one or two projects in mind. I’m looking for a big, sport sweatshirt to make another remote control pillow. I’m also looking for a few floral print shirts to make into tote bags. Focusing on these things will keep me from coming home with things I don’t really need.

Don’t waste your time. Drive by the sale slowly to see if it is worth parking your car. If you don’t see anything promising, keep driving.

Ask if the price is firm. You’ll be surprised how many people mark up their prices expecting you’ll barter down. Note: Don’t haggle with the little old lady who is selling yards of fabric for 50 cents each. Give her a little extra and tell her to keep the change.

Inspect items closely. Look for tears, holes and snags. It’s not a deal if you can’t fix it!

Buy clothing a little too big. You can always take it in, but it isn’t always possible to let it out.

Take along a snack and a drink. Wear comfortable clothing. Use sunscreen when walking around neighborhood sales.

Don’t be afraid to walk away. Chances are that if you’re not sure if it is a good deal, it probably isn’t. It’s better to regret missing a bargain than wasting money. Besides, there will be another deal in your future. That’s what garage sale shopping is all about.

Do you have any tips for your specific craft: paper, stamping, beading, etc.? Please share them in the comments!

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Thank you to all who entered the coffee sleeve giveaway! The random number generator picked comment 11. Congratulations Cicoi Ingrid!

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4 Responses to 10 garage sale tips for crafters

  1. Sarah M says:

    my only comment on your *great* list of ideas is that generally I’ve found in the past people who are giving away crafty stuff (fabric, sewing notions, etc.) will also let you take EVERYTHING off their hands for a said lump sum!
    My best outcome? A girl down the street who was an art major gave me ALL her art supplies including everything from LOADS of paper, paintbrushes, etc.etc.etc. for $15 instead of picking and choosing–most people just want to get rid of it! Fine by me!
    Good luck garage sale-ing :)

  2. Christy says:

    These are great tips! Good luck on your wardrobe refashion, too.

  3. Cioci Ingrid says:

    It’s wonderful to be a winner!
    Thanks for all the garage sale tips. They apply to those of us who are shopping them and not crafters. I know: it’s unbelievable.

  4. Jen says:

    Good article, but don’t forget the thrift stores too! Lots of people donate their unwanted craft supplies there.