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.