Feathers Flights // Sewing Blog: Tips For Sewing and Saving Money

2.24.2014

Tips For Sewing and Saving Money

A couple of decades ago clothing was expensive while fabric was cheap, so it was economical to sew. Now fabric is expensive and buying clothing can be really cheap. So does sewing actually save money? Is it really worth it? My husband is in law school so we are doing everything we can to save money. Let me tell you about my experience and that it is possible to sew to save money.
1. Fabric. Good fabric can be expensive, but it's so beautiful and I want it all. The ways I've found to save money on fabric are these:

  • Use what you have first. I have needed fabric, purchased some at the store, only to come home and realize that I have almost the exactly same thing at home or something better. It depends on what you're looking for, but if you keep your stash organized then you can always start there.
  • Thrift fabric and clothes. I have found some awesome fabric and clothes from thrift stores that only cost me a couple of dollars. There are really unique things at thrift stores. And yes, I always go home and wash what I buy, but don't you wash fabric from a fabric store too?
  • Tell others that you sew, and you could be the recipient of lots of fabric. I have received lots of vintage fabric and hand-me-down clothing from people once they knew I would use it. I usually go through and get rid of some, but I always find treasures. And it makes me feel so warm and fuzzy to know someone thought about me. Because someone knew I sew, I was able to make a connection with a man that sells me his beautiful knit remnants for a steal. Now that I have access to lots of knits, I use them the most and have truly fallen in love with sewing knit.
  • The remnant bin can be your best friend. I get a surprising amount of fabric from the remnant bin. It is smaller cuts, but then I can pair it with stuff I have from home.
  • Set a budget and stick to it. I know this might be obvious, but you're not going to save money if you can't learn to stick to a budget. It will make you think twice about everything you buy, use coupons, and shop sales.
3. Patterns. I feel like this could open a can of worms, but I rarely buy patterns. I don't think the money is worth it because most pattern alterations I can do myself. I do love reviewing patterns, but right now I just don't have the money to buy patterns. I did take a pattern-making class in college and learned about women's patterns, so I've had to learn a LOT about baby and kids patterns. If you want to save money on patterns, I recommend buying a basic pattern block and learning to alter from there. I find I have to do some sort of alterations to every pattern anyway, so once you have that basic block that fits perfectly, you can do almost any pattern alteration with something that you know fits well. 

2. Notions. I used what I can from thrifted items, I make it myself, or I buy them on sale.

I highly recommend Kwik Sew's Sewing for Baby, Kwik Sew's Sewing for Toddlers, and Kwik Sew's Sewing for Children. These are books with lots of pattern blocks and then lots of ideas and instructions for alterations. There's even Kwik Sew Sewing for Women which I really, really want to try! There is so much information about sewing, patterns, and alterations on the internet right now that you can teach yourself. I also recommend the book Patternmaking for Fashion Design. It has SO much great information about altering patterns!
I used the patterns from the Sewing for Baby book and unwanted sweaters to make four cardigans for Claire, one in each size.
So how do I do it? My husband and I have decided that we don't budget for any clothes, and that I get to use money from my blog to pay for fabric, clothes, notions, etc and then any extra goes towards school loans. This makes me really careful about what I splurge on or save on. I really think through every purchase decide if it's worth it. All of Henry's clothes are made or gifted from family. Almost all of my clothes are handmade or purchased with blog money (I wasn't willing to make my own maternity jeans). My husband's clothes are thrifted and altered by me, hand-me-downs, or gifted. This will have to change once he's working and he needs more work clothes, but by then we will have a job! We are definitely on the extreme side, so you have to find what works for you.

13 comments:

  1. I love the remnant bin! I need to organize my fabric stash again, It's easy to miss things.

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  2. Oh I loved this entire post so much because it sounded so much like here at home. I still have to try to make more clothes/alterations whatever for my husband, but i decided long ago to use from my stash and only buy thirft or if I really need something. I quit my job to stay home with G. and now the baby when is born, and there's only hubby's income, which isn't much really, so we have to save as much as possible. Just like you said, once people know we sew, they will give us a lot of fabric and clothes that we can use, and I actually love it!!!! <3

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  3. I love the statement with which you started off this post !! It is so very true Heather. Really now home made clothes are very dear compared to RTW on the stores. Happy sewing :)

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  4. Great post! It's very easy to spend a great deal of money on sewing, but it's also possible to spend very little! We do have a small clothing budget -- it includes all spending allowed for fabric and patterns since I make 85% of mine and the kids clothes. I've been able to make it stretch by using donated items from friends and family. I find they're thrilled to see their old things repurposed! (And it usually motivates them to share even more!) I buy patterns on sale and have sewn through almost all my stash. Now I only buy fabric I need to complete specific projects (and wait until the budget allows).

    Blessings to you and your family as you welcome Baby Girl!

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  5. I totally agree with what you said about patterns. I think you need a couple of good pattern blocks, and then you need to think about how the inspiration piece is put together. I love all the patterns that I see popping up on blogs. But once I start to think about them, I feel like I can deconstruct the piece and figure out how to make it with patterns I already have. Or it makes me look for specific patterns to purchase to fill the void. Thanks for the hints on those pattern books. I am going to wish list those for Christmas, or see what I can find at the thrift store!

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  6. ITA with you about patterns, and the remnant bin. To be honest, by biggest tip is just to stay out of the store! (Which is the hardest thing to do. I'd love to feature this on Sewistry this week!

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  7. Unfortunately, our nearest fabric store is both expensive and poor quality :( I used to get nice fabric from Wal-Mart but even they got out of the by-the-meter sales so all that i can get usually is good thread. How can one go about getting good quality/decent priced material online?

    I think we get most of our girls' clothes via hand-me-downs so the vast majority of my clothing sewing is repair work. Im getting better with saving items for future repairs, though we don't have a lot of space to store "scrap". Ive been adding ruffles lately to deal with the unfortunately short hemlines that so many skirts and skorts seem to have nowadays so thats where i am using my stash of quilting fabric.

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  8. thanks for the tip on the Kwik Sew books - I just ordered the Children's one on Amazon.

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  9. Way to go! I'm sure you have learned more perhaps because you've forced yourself to create within these boundaries. Good to be creative

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  10. Great post! I've been avoiding the fabric shop of late too - I have a ridiculous stash that must be used!! I do sometimes buy patterns from the thrift store too - even if they are cut to someone else's size they are still alterable for my use. Yes I too have found some great pieces of fabric at the to op shop (thrift store)!

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  11. I have a post like this in my drafts! It is sooo easy to keep buying buying fabric. I really need to remove myself from some of the Facebook destash groups. Your tip about patterns is so true too. I have found myself ready to buy a PDF pattern or a $1 pattern at Joanns recently until I stop and remind myself I already have something I can alter to create the same result!

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  12. I have saved tons of money sewing! I have some fitting problems with store bought clothes. So I alter them myself. I sew basic easy separates for my grand daughter.I have put the word out that I will mend for people. Always have a pile to work on. Have made drapes pillows for my home. People give me fabric. I cut apart too small clothes and reuse the fabric. Yard sales and thrift shops have fabric or clothes that can be altered or recommissioned.New yardage may be expensive but sales help. Hope you go for it. It's a great hobby/moneysaver.
    Chicago Bankruptcy Law Office of Lorraine Greenberg

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  13. Use coupons and plan ahead!

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