ONE. Salvage stores- these are my absolute favorite place to shop. If I only get one stop while out shopping, I make it a salvage store (like Dirt Cheap or Hudson's Salvage in my local area). At these stores I buy sheets (flat and fitted, take the elastic out of a fitted and use it in projects that don't require tight fitting elastic), curtain panels, shower curtains, pillowcases, towels, tablecloths, napkins, baby blankets, duvet covers, and pillow shams. I cut these up and sew bags, dresses, shorts, quilts, bed skirts and crib skirts, burp cloths, bibs, pillow covers, and ruffles. I've also made a bulletin board using shower curtain fabric, but my favorite salvage store find to date is actually a no-sew idea. I bought two matching tablecloths and hung them from rings with clips as my master bedroom curtains. They really make the room! I usually spend anywhere from $1-$7 per item depending on how long they've been hanging around the store. I dare you to find fabric cheaper per yard anywhere else.
TWO. Closets- this can include yours, family members, and friends. Look at old pieces of clothing and see if you can find a way to transform them into something new. Tutorial coming soon. Before friends and family get rid of old items ask to go through them for possible fabric.
THREE. Thrift stores. I used to shop thrift stores a lot during college, I definitely had little $ to spend then. In a college town there always seemed to be tons of t-shirts in the thrift stores. Oh the cloth diapers I could have made... I still own two pieces of furniture that came from thrift stores, and sadly when i got married I had to get rid of a little love seat that I reupholstered. I loved that love seat, but my 6'5" husband did not.
FOUR. Yard sales- Look for all the same items as listed above, and you may get lucky too. I once found an ad for a yard sale that promised fabric, and boy did I strike it rich. A nice lady was getting out of the business of sewing children's clothes. I got tons of fabric, trims, blank shirts for monogramming, and even a mannequin. At times like this you can stop back at the end of the sale and make an offer for whatever is left. You can get great deals, because no one wants to pack it all back up again.
FIVE. Big chain stores- The big name fabric stores runs tons of sales. Sign up for the newsletters, flyers, emails, and coupons. Shop when what you need is on sale. I only buy my favorite thread when it is 40-50% off. I try to never buy a piece of fabric at full price because in my town there is always a coupon available for 40% off any one cut of fabric. I stock up on other notions when they are on sale also.I do occasionally splurge and buy awesome designer fabric at my favorite little quilt and machine shop, Kelley's Pins and Needles. You should shop it too if you are in my local area. They are super sweet and will set you up with whatever you need. It's like my philosophy of life, "all things in moderation" whether they may be cute fabric, delicious dessert, or beautiful pottery.