Imagine for a second, opening your closet doors to see an entire wardrobe filled with beautiful handmade clothing. Sounds pretty magical, right? But questions pop again and again on various sewing boards across the web: Is it affordable to make your own clothes? Why should I spend x-amount of money to sew something that I could have just bought at (insert your favorite store here)? Is it even worth it?
These are good questions, and there’s just as many good answers to them. For one, there’s just about nothing that feels as good as putting on a piece of apparel that you’ve made yourself. Fitting clothing to your measurements and making it in a fabric that you love is absolutely a reward unto itself. But affordability is an important consideration, especially given that many sewists today are not only balancing jobs and busy family lives, but budgets as well. So, is it more expensive to sew your own clothes?
I’m here to tell you that sewing for yourself and your loved ones at home is an excellent way to stretch a dollar. Not only can you create beautiful clothing that fits within your budget, but you can recreate stylish and great-fitting clothes that you might have otherwise had to shell out major bucks at higher-end stores to purchase.
Our family is a family of five: Mom (that’s me), Dad, and three darling daughters, all on a single income. My girls love new clothes, and would shop at stores like Target, Justice, and H&M every week if they could. This, obviously, isn’t realistic for us. So, recreating their favorite styles from these stores at home is an excellent, affordable, and fun way for us to keep a few extra dollars in the bank.
Take, for instance, my eldest daughter. This year, she enters the fourth grade, and she’s SO over “little girl clothes” (insert expert-level tween eye-roll here, and please send help). Lately, she’s been loving athleisure styles from box stores like Target. They’re cute, trendy and initially seem affordable, but add it all up at the end of the day and we usually end up spending much more money than we had originally intended.
So, I set a challenge for myself. I let my daughter choose an outfit that she loved, we would recreate it at home, and compare the cost. Here’s what she chose:At $15 for the cropped hoodie, and $14.99 for the joggers, the grand total for the outfit comes out to $ 29.99.
Now to make our own. In keeping with the style of the inspiration outfit, I chose a tie dye French terry for the joggers and a solid French terry for the hoodie.
With careful cutting, I made a size 10 jogger, graded to a size 14 waist, using one yard of the tie dye French terry at $10.99 a yard. Add in $2 worth of ribbing for the waistband and cuffs, and the total cost of these joggers came out to $12.99.
Now, onto the hoodie. I love this style, and so does my daughter! And guess what? Cropped means less fabric, yes! Again, cutting carefully to fully utilize the fabric (solids help here), I used one and a quarter yards of French terry at $9.99 a yard, making the total cost of the hoodie about $12.50.
And here’s the finished outfit! She loves it, and altogether we saved $4.50 making it at home. It isn't a huge amount, but every penny adds up. And you know what? My daughter feels so much better in this outfit than the ready-to-wear version. Her measurements require some grading, and with store bought clothing, she usually has to choose between pants or tops that are either too long, or too tight. So, while we aren’t saving a huge amount up front with handmade clothing, she’s ended up with much better fitting garments, ones that she will wear again and again, and that’s a value in itself!
Here are some tips to help save money while sewing at home:
1. Buy bundles and mystery boxes! The value of these are wonderful, and with frequent deals like monthly Bundle Chicken and seasonal sales, your can really stretch your budget here.
2. Measure, measure again, and grade if needed. You know what saves money? Having less clothes. And clothes that are great fitting and feel great are ones that you and your loved ones will reach for again and again.
3. Use fabrics with prints that are non-directional. As I mentioned above, careful cutting so that you waste as little fabric as possible is a great way to save. Using solids, or fabrics with non-directional prints like tie dye, make careful cutting even easier.
4. Find patterns that you love and use them again and again. Do patterns cost money? Sure. But I have patterns that I’ve had for years and have used so many times, they’ve paid for themselves. Find your “core patterns” that your family and you will use and love, and keep on using them! I like to keep an eye on pattern companies' social media pages for sales and bundle deals to stock up when possible.
What other tips do you have on saving money while sewing? Let us know in the comments or on our Facebook page! Can't wait to hear from you!
What pattern is the hoodie?
Terrific article! I love making frilly clothes for my super girly girl. She goes to the fabric store with me and picks the fabric she wants, instead of me trying to guess. We are able to completely customize each outfit where we wouldn’t have that option at a clothing store. I have two savings tips. One, only buy fabric when it’s on sale and/or with a coupon. Two, thrift stores typically have a great selection of new fabrics people have donated.
Thank you for this article! It validates what I have been doing for my granddaughter for the last couple years. We can buy clothing for her pretty cheaply but they never fit and the quality is very poor. I hated taking her shopping because she would end up feeling terrible because everything was either too small, too tight, or just not her style. Being able to pick a look and then have Grandma put it together for her has been the best experience for her. I’m confident she’ll take the confidence this has given her and she’ll be making her own clothes even as an adult. Also, as she gets older this will definitely save us money!