When's the last time you had to buy buttons or zippers or elastic? If it's been a while, you might be surprised at how much prices have gone up over the years. I keep supplies of thread, needles, yarn, knitting needles, crochet hooks, sewing notions and other things. Any time I have a mending need, I have something to tackle the job with.
When my kids were smaller, I used to sew more, mainly for myself, and just for fun. So I was regularly buying buttons and things to match what I was making. Children's clothes can be pretty inexpensive if you catch the sales. There was a great consignment store near where we used to live and for just a few dollars an item, I used to dress them in Baby Dior, Baby Gap and other fun things. As they got a little bigger, my sewing time was filled with mending - mainly jean knees! I'd patch them the first time and when the patches were shot, I'd sometimes cut them off and hem them into jean shorts for summer. Don't be afraid to stop at a thrift store. Some of them are choosey and only take nice things. Others, you have to sift a little but there are always brand new or like-new clothes scattered through the racks.
I started keeping some of the worn out jeans so I'd have something to make patches out of. When a zipper gave up the ghost, I'd realize there was one just the size I needed in those "scrap" jeans and it was quicker and easier to pull it out and use it than go to town and buy a new one. I saved money on both the zipper and the gas! When a shirt is worn out and ready for the rag bag, I cut off all the buttons first and put them in my button container. That comes in really handy when my husband discovers a button missing from his dress shirt and I have dozens of those little white buttons ready to sew one on in 5 minutes flat! To make finding what I want easier, I sort them by color or into matching sets and put them in little bags or string a bunch of matching ones together. If there is a nice heavy elastic in the waist of a worn out item, I take out the elastic. A pair of pajama or lounge pants is pretty simple to make and I have plenty of recycled elastic bands to put in without having to buy a new piece.
We've become such a throw-away society that sometimes we might be throwing in the garbage the very things we are just headed to the store to buy. I haven't had to buy buttons or zippers or elastic for a very long time because I just keep recycling the ones we get.