How to get FREE fabric and be eco friendly

That’s right.


Read what I did recently.

I stopped by a local upholstery fabric store last week. I can never afford anything in there but I like to peruse the aisles hoping something will be on, like, 90% off SALE . It doesn’t cost anything to wish or window shop, right?

Well, I found this wicker basket on the floor, filled with $1 per piece fabric swatches. I dove in head first. I found so many pieces that I fell in love with that I ended up spending $20.

How is that getting them for FREE, you say?

Read on.

When I got to the cashier with a pile of fabric samples, the clerks were so happy to get rid of them that they started asking me questions, like what I was going to do with them. I told them that  I was going to upcycle them into something practical and sell them in my store on Etsy.

Then, one of them said, “You know we have more books of samples that we either throw out (WHAT???!????) or send them to schools for kids to play with. Would you like some?” (Oh boy, would I?) I almost pee’d in my pants with joy.

So that’s how I got all these books for free! And they told me I can come by and get any free sample books I want.

Here are some pictures of my FREE fabric.

Free Fabric Store Sample Books

Free Fabric Store Sample Books

The backs of free fabric

The backs of fabric

I cut off the fabric from the heavy stapled binding. That was easy.  But the tricky part was removing the paper backing of the fabrics. I tried ripping it off and of course, it wouldn’t be that easy. Then, I steam ironed the part that didn’t get ripped. Well, that took care of the paper remnant but the glue was still on the fabric. So, I soaked the fabric and hand washed it. When it was dried, the fabric was perfect but the part where the glue was on the fabric became stiff.

The whole process took too long and wasted too much electricity. And the result wasn’t 100% satisfying. So, I decided to use the pinking shears and cut around the paper. I might not get the whole piece but when I have this huge fabric sample books, for FREE, I am happy with whatever I end up with.

Look at these gorgeous colors. They are all cotton blend.

free fabric swatches beige

Drapery Fabric

free fabric

Maybe a pillow case???

free fabric purple

May be a bag?

free fabric colorful

Outdoor Furniture Upholstery Fabric

free fabric reds

This screams “Hawaii”, doesn’t it?

free fabric tropical

Love this modern look

I can’t wait to start sewing.

Now, go raid, I mean, ask your upholstery store for some FREE samples. They will love to get rid of them. Let me know what you make with them. Or maybe you made something already with FREE fabric you upcycled?  Post them here and share with us.



  1. says

    I bought in a local thrift shop a bunch of those fabric samples and made a few set of coaster for my home. It was fun though, about that glue part I soaked them in soapy water for a few minutes and the glue and paper came off.

  2. says

    Thanks for stopping by! Yeah, I can’t wait to start sewing.

    Really? The glue and paper came off without making the fabric stiff? Hmmmm….I gotta try a different fabric.

    Thanks for the tip. :)

  3. says

    What a score Karen! I love that last modern one!! I’ve found these books at thrift stores but didn’t think to go to the upholstery stores. Endless possibilities!

  4. says

    WOW! What a coup! I did this in Philly on Fabric Row – paid a dollar per swatch set. Had the same problem with the glue and ended up cutting the fabric down. Next time I’ll try for freebies!

  5. says

    Wow, what wonderful news. Hurray, I love knowing things do not go to waste. It breaks my heart to see so many things, food included, go into the landfills………or fill up dumpsters.

  6. says

    About 20 years ago I scored a huge pile of samples from a friend who wanted to get rid of her books, and I have almost used them all up. I think it might be time to replenish!