There was a time, several decades ago, when I could answer this question with a resounding “Yes!” That is no longer so. Now there are a number of factors to be weighed when deciding whether it’s worth it to learn to sew for yourself and your family. And many of those factors have nothing to do with the all-mighty dollar.
Is It Cheaper to Make Your Own Clothes?
The short answer is no if you currently buy 95% of your wardrobe at discount retailers like Walmart. But if you generally shop for more high-end products, then yes, you can save, especially if you keep track of fabric sales and research wholesale sources. Here are some of the major costs to consider and how you can profit from your investment.
1. Monetary Expenses
Of course, the first expense is quality fabric. I am assuming here that you already own a sewing machine and basic sewing accessories. If not, that’s a whole different article.
I am on the e-mailing list of a number of local fabric outlets. This helps me to keep track of when a particular type of fabric I need goes on sale. There are also a number of on-line options for different types of fabric, such as upholstery, silk, wool, or other specialty fabrics.
Visiting sites such as Etsy can give you a number of options. Vogue Fabric is another possibility. So you don’t have to pay whatever your local fabric store demands without checking out other outlets unless you’re really in a hurry.
Another growing expense is patterns. I am aghast at how the prices have skyrocketed for many well-known pattern companies. But again, I have found that there are often pattern sales or even free patterns available on-line.
It’s also good to remember that most patterns have a number of different variations on a theme. If you find a look that suits you, your investment in a higher-priced pattern can pay off as you use it again and again, just varying the fabric and cut.
If you are making a single piece or an ensemble that requires accessories such as a zipper, buttons, or trim, you can easily find the cost jumping exponentially. I personally have an account to buy zippers bulk through a dry-cleaner’s supply outlet, though that’s not the only option out there.
Buttons can be expensive, but you can find deals there, too, with a bit of research. Always watch for the sales. Recently, when a nearby fabric store was closing its doors for good, I was able to buy all kinds of creative buttons at a fraction of retail cost. These kinds of sales will set you up for many future projects.
Trim can also be devastatingly expensive. Sometimes a bit of creativity can help you overcome this issue with DIY options. Or again, look for the deals. They’re out there, well, most of the time. But sometimes you just have to bite the bullet for the sake of quality.
If you’re a shopper, you know how much you enjoy spending hours scouring racks for the best bargain. We all have to buy clothing sometimes. I personally have never been a great shopper. I would rather spend those hours sewing my own unique, handcrafted garments. No crowds. No tired feet. Just me, my sewing machine, and some background music. Ahhh…
The point is, it does take an investment of time to sew your own clothes. Of course, you don’t have to finish a project in one sitting. If you are able to budget a few hours a week, you may find it worth your while.
3. How you profit
How can you profit from making your own clothing? The bottom line is not just dollar signs.
Of course, you need a bit of experience before you can expect to see consistent, professional results in your wardrobe. That’s what kids’ clothing is for (lol).
Seriously, start with simple, around the house garments. Shorts, easy tops, and skirts. Soon you’ll be able to create quality clothing that you know is going to stay together and last many years.
The Best Fit
It can be a challenge to find clothing that fits just right. Many people are not a standard size. Pants are too long or too short. Dresses fit in the hips but not the bust. Or you need different sizes of matching suit jacket and pants.
When you sew your own clothing, you know it’s tailor-made just for you. You can be comfortable and know you look your best whether you’re at a business meeting, the grocery store, or on vacation.
Your style. Your colors. Your personality statement all come through your unique creations. Who knows. You might start a new trend. You can enjoy your own sense of accomplishment reflected in the mirror and in other’s compliments.
Does it cost you something? Yes. Is it worth it? That’s for you to decide.