“Why sew your own clothes if it’s cheaper to buy them already made?”
To tell you the truth, I wrestle with this question from time to time. It’s true that (most of the time) it is cheaper to buy clothes straight off the rack, and with basically no effort on your part whatsoever. But hey, what’s the fun in that? Seriously though, the high quality of a lovingly stitched item of clothing will almost certainly be worth the time, effort and money. When you’re working with a well-designed pattern and good quality fabrics (and hopefully your sewing techniques are pretty decent) then you really should be comparing the price of your item with a high quality designer brand. And since designer brands don’t come cheap you probably are in fact saving money by choosing to sew it yourself, not to mention the pure enjoyment of creating something yourself! If you must count pennies though, there are a few ways to save money
1. Use coupons.
My partner always laughs at how excited I get when my $40 coupon from Spotlight comes in the mail. I always end up using it, even if I don’t “need” anything and my stash keeps getting bigger.
2. Use up your stash.
If you’re like me and accumulate a stash, try to use it the next time you’ve got a project! I sometimes get a little nervous using up beautiful fabrics I’ve been hanging onto. I worry that I’m going to make a mistake, or the final piece won’t be worthy of the fabric’s beauty, or some other crap like that. Don’t be like me – you bought the fabric to be used, so create something! The shirts below were a stash buster. I bought 1.5 metres of the fabric at 40% off at Spotlight. I think I paid around $3.99/m for it (so less than $6 total). From that I made two blouses from the Oliver + S Ice Cream Dress pattern, and had enough fabric left over to make two doll’s tops.
3. Look for sales.
You can almost always find a sale on fabric, whether online or at any of the big fabric stores. I don’t remember the last time I bought fabric or patterns at full price. It would have to be pretty special for me to splurge like that. (Oh, and speaking of sales, the pattern for the shirts (above) is on sale at my website, www.sewsavvy.com! I know, a shameless plug)
4. Always save buttons.
A lot of store-bought clothing comes with an extra button or two. Don’t throw them out! Save them up – you’ll never know when you’ll need an odd closure. Also, if you are about to throw out clothing that has had it’s day, first scavenge all the trims and buttons before you throw it out.
5. Trace your patterns.
This is especially true when sewing for children. Children’s patterns usually span several ages (like 2T-10 in some cases), so if you trace the pattern for whichever size you need you then leave the rest of the sizes untouched and available to sew as your child grows. My mum always sewed 3 dresses from each pattern for each of us girls. It used to drive us crazy that we had to wear the same clothes all the time, but I can imagine that it saved my mum a lot of money since patterns can be very pricey. Make sure to transfer all of the markings. Also, a tip I learned from the Fashion Incubator Blog, make sure to cut the line away completely whenever you trace a pattern because each time you trace a pattern the line increases the size of the pattern. For instance, I will trace the pattern onto paper, then use chalk to trace around the paper onto my fabric. If I were to cut on the outside of the line each time I could be adding 2 or 3 mm to my seams. It may not seem like a lot, but trust me, it will make a difference when you try to match the pieces up. Here’s a very high-tech photo of my lightbox: pattern pieces taped to the window.
I hope you found this list helpful. If you’ve got a few suggestions of your own please let me know and I’ll add them to the list! So here’s the question of the day: do you sew to save money? Or, do you sew purely for enjoyment?