Anyone who sews knows the occasional frustration of finding the perfect pattern, but being unable to find the perfect fabric.

Fabric stores and quilt shops abound with wonderful fabrics from terrific designers in every color of the rainbow. Still, you can walk away from you search without finding what you're looking for.

Sometimes it pays to think outside the box when it comes to fabric! For instance, did you know that bed sheets could be used as yardage? Vintage sheets are my favorite because of their lovely floral, geometric, or striped designs, and are tightly woven so that the fabric usually doesn't need much ironing, if any at all. The fabrics usually get softer with each wash and have little or no pilling when they're well made.

Sheets can be found at all kinds of places. Department and big box stores usually carry several designs in different colors. When you find these on sale, you've probably spent less for "fabric" than you would have if you'd purchased it from a fabric store.

Don't overlook places like thrift stores, yard sales, and estate sales for great sheets for sewing. I've found next-to-new king size sheets at thrift stores for as little as $1.00. These fabrics are great for all kinds of projects where you'd use a cotton fabric, but they're also excellent for making a mock-up or muslin of a pattern to check for fit.

Sheets come in other fibers besides the standard 100% cotton or a Permanent Press blend. Flannel sheets can be used to make cozy shirts for cold weather, loungewear (I wouldn't recommend them for sleepwear because they are not flame retardant.), baby blankets, or even stuffed animals or pillows for children.

Silk, satin, or satin-like sheets can also be very versatile and won't break the bank if you buy them on sale. They make great linings for jackets or vests, slips, scarves, pillows, accessories such as an eye mask, or are even a great texture for a baby's taggie blanket.

If you purchase a new set of sheets for a project, you may have more than one print to work with. Cut the elastic and seams off of the fitted sheet so it will also lay flat and will be easier to work with. If you don't need the pillowcases for yardage, consider making pillowcase dresses for your favorite little girl. For as versatile as they are, sheets aren't the only "outside-the-box" source for fabric.

Find a full-skirted prom or bridesmaid's dress and make a tree skirt for Christmas by measuring up the skirt to the measurement you'd like your tree skirt to be. Cut off the bodice after measuring. Add a casing with a drawstring, and you have a unique addition to your Christmas décor!

Your wedding dress can easily be made into a Christening gown for baby that can be passed down through generations and will have a sentimental connection because you wore it for your wedding. If you can't stand the thought of doing this to your dress, you can also find dresses at thrift stores, consignment shops, or even online at places like eBay!

How about other fabrics such as leather or vinyl? A vinyl tablecloth that's available new for a few dollars can become a cushion for an outdoor chair, the backing for a baby's bib, the lining for a changing pad, or a wet-sack to keep in your diaper bag for those unexpected messes you need to take home for the laundry.

The cost of new, authentic leather is shocking if you haven't priced it before. A few weeks ago I found a brown (real!) leather jacket at a yard sale for $.25! Yes, just one quarter! I'm not sure what it's going to become just yet, but it will be taken apart and used for a special project.

Keep an eye out for other items in your home or on sale that you can repurpose!

Those sheers you are taking down from your living room windows would make a terrific tutu or princess costume for an imaginative little girl. Grandma's quilt that has seen better days can be sectioned and made into pillows so that each member of the family can have a memento.

Men's shirts can easily be made into doll clothes or dresses for little girls or ties for little boys. Do an online search for "girls dress from man's shirt" or "free tie pattern" to find directions for projects like this.

Everyone who sews can easily combine frugality, recycling, and creativity.

Don't be afraid to look at any type of garment or textile for uses beyond what is "normal"!

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