Is sewing clothes cheaper than buying? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 27 Old 09-04-2008, 09:13 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I've always heard that. I used to sew but have just recently picked it back up, and I went to get some fabric for some maternity t-shirts. The fabric I needed ended up being $5/yd... which means the three yards I got was almost $15! Plus pattern, which was $4... For one shirt!

It seems like I can get cheaper already-made clothes. I know the creative process, etc. etc but in just terms of money spent, is sewing actually cheaper for adult clothing?
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#2 of 27 Old 09-04-2008, 09:23 AM
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IME, sewing adult clothing is generally not cheaper than buying, especially if you shop sales for the clothes you buy. Fabric, notions, patterns, all those can add up quite a bit. There are exceptions, of course - wait for the patterns to go on sale, looked for fabric that's been super marked down, that sort of thing, but clothing manufacturers can buy everything in bulk and that generally translates into cheaper per article prices.

For me, sewing isn't so much about saving money (although I do save by sewing my own diapers out of largely recycled materials) as it is about the creative process and getting things exactly the way I want them. I just finished sewing myself a new diaper bag. For what I spent on fabric and notions for that bag, I could easily have found one cheaper, but it wouldn't have been made by me and it wouldn't have been fully customized to be exactly what I wanted.
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#3 of 27 Old 09-04-2008, 11:26 AM
 
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That depends on if you have a good thrift shop nearby.

I generally get most of my clothes on clearance at Target or JCPenney, or at the thrift store. However, I've recently realized an addiction to maxi dresses, and I've yet to see them on clearance, and in the prints or colors that I want. I tend to only pick up apparel fabrics on clearance as well, because I don't make a lot of my own clothes (except for those maxi dresses, LOL), so at $3 a yard on clearance, times 3 or 4 yards, and then a few cents for thread, I can make myself something in less time (and gas) than it takes to go back and forth to the other stores looking for something that I'm not madly in love with.

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#4 of 27 Old 09-04-2008, 11:51 AM
 
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Sewing clothes yourself is no longer cheaper than buying them ready made. It used to be, back when garment were not mass produced as cheaply as they are today (ie - made in other countries for next to nothing). I think this is true of most crafts now, and the reason to do it is really for the love of it.
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#5 of 27 Old 09-04-2008, 11:54 AM
 
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Special things, like a blessing gown for a baby are "cheaper" and made by me.

Formal clothes that cover enough/modest enough are a fair bit cheaper and or simply unavailable. I can usually make a dress with quite a bit of work but less than $50 in supplies, shopping with a Joann's coupon, etc. at the right times.

Slings and diapers are cheaper, but I don't have time to sew diapers anymore.

"modest" swimwear that is "what I want" and therefore not commercially available. (My kids and I wear this for comfort and using less sunscreen, etc. instead of specific religious reasons).

Special occasion girls' dresses that aren't made of sheer fabric are cheaper and more fun to make than buy. If they want something sheer like those butterfly dresses, I do NOT make those.

I do not make men's clothes, although I have patterns, etc. if it should ever be necessary.

Sewing skills can also be used to modify high quality used clothes you buy at Good Will, and I can hem pants I buy for DH at thrift places.

Shopping sales, used stores, and yard sales is sometimes more worth the time, but if there's a blizzard or you need something NOW, then sewing and having supplies and patterns on hand is priceless.

(I made DD a Native American costume out of a pair of my old pants for school for the cost of a couple of hours of my time--everyone raved and all I did was cut fringe ...).
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#6 of 27 Old 09-05-2008, 02:40 AM
 
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i think sewing them are more expensive than buying unless you refashion which is what i do. i seldom buy fabric for myself or the kids unless they are on sale. the kids stuff are refashion from our clothing that will not fit ever again unless i dont plan to eat for a year..lol

i do scout around for clothing in thrift store and refashion them for me..
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#7 of 27 Old 09-05-2008, 03:16 AM
 
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It totally depends.

I don't spend more than .99 cents on a pattern. I wait until Hancock's is having their .99 cent sale and stock up. (Though I don't know if the local ones do, so I may have to start forking out more money.)

I like nice, fashionable clothes. I rarely go to second hand stores. I've never found a great selection. If I found nice, stylish clothes that that fit me well, I'd certainly buy them, but I just haven't found the right thrift shops. So, I spend a bit of money on new clothes. While I do get clearance clothes, I also fork over the money for a few nice full priced outfits now and then.

So... when I see a simple, $30 tank top at Motherhood Maternity, yeah, I can probably make it cheaper.

A $7 skirt on clearance at old navy? Probably not.

So it really depends.

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#8 of 27 Old 09-05-2008, 01:27 PM
 
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Yeah, I think I make out on some things. Like pj pants. I buy one pattern (Kwik Sew gauchos pattern) and plan on making multiple items from that pattern using hemp fleece I bought from a fabric co-op. I use the scraps in mama pads and breast pads. I can also use the same pattern to make day wear. I am using thread, needles, notions that I already had. I can often make a pair of pants for my dd from leftovers, too (from a pattern I made up by tracing a RTW pair of pants).
I also only buy fabric when it is on sale or I have a 40% off coupon or I find what I want at the mill end textile store that is very cheap.

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#9 of 27 Old 09-05-2008, 01:31 PM
 
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Cheaper? Not usually. Better quality? Most definitely.

It's true that the cost of fabric isn't cheap, nor are patterns... and when buying yardage for adult clothes... yeah, it's not cheap. But at the same time YOU know where it came from. YOU know who worked on it and what wage they were (or were not) paid . YOU know the process and are able to tailor the fit.

Plus, you get to sew! Sewing is my creative outlet. So the creating process is nearly as good -- if not better -- than the finished product sometimes

For bottom line costs, it's not usually cheaper to make, when talking price out of pocketbook. But there are always hidden 'costs' to everything else (unfair labor wages, sweat shops, etc) and those matter more, to me.

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#10 of 27 Old 09-05-2008, 04:15 PM
 
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No, not unless you specifically buy non-sweatshop items. That's why clothes are so cheap in stores.
But, your items are unique, and usually of better quality.
If you want it to be cheap, use free tutorials online instead of patterns, or wait til patterns go on sale for $1 (they do this at Joann's about once a month)
Check thrift stores, freecycle, etc. for fabric, OR repurpose old clothing into new items!
That's when it's very frugal!

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#11 of 27 Old 09-05-2008, 07:26 PM
 
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I don't sew my own clothes, but I'm interested in giving it a shot. I don't think we can make items cheaper than we can buy them at, say, Target, but what about quality items? Like a classic white dress shirt that's made for quality might go for upwards of $100 in a store. Can't we make one with the same quality materials and craftmanship (with practice ) for a lower price?

And what about those trendy jersey dresses? Jersey dress Will the materials cost more than $100? Serious question from someone who really doesn't have much experience in this area
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#12 of 27 Old 09-05-2008, 09:42 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Evenstar View Post
And what about those trendy jersey dresses? Jersey dress Will the materials cost more than $100? Serious question from someone who really doesn't have much experience in this area
Oh, you could absolutely and easily make a dress like that for less than $100! I'll go on the very high estimate of yardage and say it would take four yards to make that. That linked dress uses a polyester/lycra blend of fabric which I suppose is good for some drape, but I think you could find a nice cotton/lycra blend that could have that drape too (and I much prefer to use cotton anyway!)... There are some very nice c/l blends for $7 or maybe $7.50 per yard... so that's $30 in the cost of fabric. Even if you had to buy a spool of thread to match your fabric and ball point needles (or a smaller universal needle which some prefer), you're still coming out FAR ahead!

Judy, wife to my Catholic deacon husband ... homeschooling mother to my four girls and now a rainbow1284.gif BOY!!! Forever remembering our loss (8/11) angel3.gif .

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#13 of 27 Old 09-06-2008, 02:49 PM
 
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I think it's rarely cheaper to sew adult clothes. I used to sew clothes for myself, and it was NEVER cheaper than what I could get at Old Navy or Target or even Gap.

However, it was a much better quality and perfectly tailored to my body. I use the clothes I made for years and years and years and years. Whereas the stuff from Old Navy doesn't last me nearly as long.

So, I guess it depends on how you factor cost.

I have made bags more cheapy myself. And scrap quilts are very cheap to make. I've made curtains WAY more cheaply than store bought.

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#14 of 27 Old 09-07-2008, 05:35 AM
 
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I agree with what the pp have said, with a caveat...

It also depends on whether you're an easy to fit size. I can't find clothes to fit me or DH at places like Target or Gap or Old Navy. If I want a pair of dress pants, I'm looking at $100 unless I luck out and catch a sale (and jeans are at least $45). If DH needs pants, it's at least $60, plus the cost of shipping (I can find very little for him locally). I'll sometimes buy him t-shirts at Target if I'm desperate, but since they don't carry tall sizes, they always wind up being too short (he lifts his arms and they come up above his belt). I just discovered last week that there's a store (relatively) locally that carries clothes that fit both him and I, but at 75 miles away, that's a once or twice a year trip at most.

All told it is often cheaper to make our clothes, if I can get a good price on fabric (not that I have the time). However, if we were of "average" size and could shop at big box stores, that would not be the case.

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#15 of 27 Old 09-07-2008, 06:16 AM
 
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The more you know about sewing the more control you have over the price of your items. For example, 3 yards of fabric for 1 shirt seems like a lot of fabric to me. I almost never buy a pattern without sneakily opening up the envelope and seeing how they want you to lay out the pieces, and then I try to see if I could use less fabric then them. Sometimes I can, and sometimes I can't (like if the fabric I want to use has a large all around pattern that needs to match up or something). I also will create my own patterns for simple things like pj pants or a-line skirts using newspaper (it would be better to use craft paper, but I don't usually have that laying around).

Also if you have the room and tempermant, you can usually build up a good fabric stash out of the clearance racks, and then create garments from your stash as the mood strikes you for much less. And if you get good at drafting patterns, you can even go idea shopping in the mall, and then come home to your stash and recreate current high priced styles. I miss sewing, but I only have the time for one consuming hobby and that one for me is knitting.
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#16 of 27 Old 09-07-2008, 08:55 AM
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ah, a subject near and dear to my heart! Sewing + finances!

It *can* be cheaper, depending on a few strategies. Always buy fabric and patterns on sale, there is a huge mark-up on these items. Always try to use a pattern more than once to differ the cost to multiple items. As a PP mentioned, check the layouts inside the envelop - they often are wasteful. You can copy your own garments into patterns (without taking them apart) as well. Try and buy 60" wide fabrics as much as possible. And don't "pay yourself", making one item takes way more time than time per item as they are made in large batches, even for an industrial sewing machine operator . Mostly, compare your clothes fairly with what's on the market, as mentioned by a PP, just like an organic home grown free-range chicken isn't the same as factory farmed meat in the grocery store, clothes you make yourself don't have to be compared to the cheapest item on the rack.

I've pretty much given up on making knit items, I can not find jersey or interlock as inexpensively as it "should be".

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#17 of 27 Old 09-09-2008, 01:32 AM
 
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It just depends, the lesser fabric you need (kids clothes vs. adult clothes) the cheaper. i only buy clearance bin fabric, and the fabric inspires me on what to make so then i sit down and create, and it ends up cheaper, but the best part is it is mama made, and my kids love it!!!
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#18 of 27 Old 09-10-2008, 08:17 AM
 
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I"m having deja-vu....I remember posting about this before.

for me, it *is* cheaper. I buy my patterns on sale, and usully ones that have more than one style in it so I get more for my money. I buy patterns that are current top/blouse styles that I love but know I can make cheaper! I get fabric for my blouses on sale for 99cents a yard. I cant' buy a new blouse, custom made for me, for that price.

Actually, my favorite current pattern I got at a thrift store for 25 cents and i've gotten fabric there too and sheet sets in perfect condition.

For my Dd and DS...I can get carried away. However, since my DS has Autism he is so picky about clothes, I can make his favorites when the fabric goes on sale and I stock up.

My DD is the challenge! I love to do boutique sewing and it can get very, very pricy. I use muslin and old sheets to make practice patterns and save my good fabric for the real deal. Also, she is hard to fit and I want her to wear modest clothes so (actually that is what got me into sewing!) I almost have to make her clothes. I can make those Hanna Anderson style dresses for a fraction of the cost of what it would be to purchase it ready made.

I am blessed that my mom has a huge fabric stash and gives me her quilting rejects so often I have access to free fabric.

When it comes to adult pants and jackets.... no, not cheaper.
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#19 of 27 Old 09-15-2008, 06:55 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by riaketty View Post
I've always heard that. I used to sew but have just recently picked it back up, and I went to get some fabric for some maternity t-shirts. The fabric I needed ended up being $5/yd... which means the three yards I got was almost $15! Plus pattern, which was $4... For one shirt!

It seems like I can get cheaper already-made clothes. I know the creative process, etc. etc but in just terms of money spent, is sewing actually cheaper for adult clothing?
Yes and no. Yes, because if you shop for fabrics and patterns frugally {watch for clearance and sales, recycle fabrics, etc.} you can greatly reduce your budget. Also, you can make clothing for yourself that is designed specifically for you, with your tastes in mind. You get to choose the colors, the amount of stretch/lack of stretch, the styles, everything, tailored to just you. To do that in a regular store can cost quite a lot of money. No, because with fabric you often get what you pay for in terms of quality. The better fabrics usually cost more and adult clothing can use quite a bit of fabric. Patterns are pricey, unless you get them on sale and they might not be worth the price if you only use them once or twice.

I like sewing clothing, so it's worth the cost for me. I didn't get in to sewing to save money {and it's a good thing too, because I've spent way more on machines, notions, patterns and fabric in the last three years than I've spent on clothing in my whole life! }, but because I like to sew and I like being able to tailor clothing to my tastes. I haven't made any clothing for myself yet; just for kids so far.
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#20 of 27 Old 10-09-2008, 10:02 PM
 
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It also depends on what you buy. We try to avoid buying things made in China. And if you want something more fashionable, it may cost less to make it yourself. Especially if you reuse the pattern. I used to make cotton pajamas for my kids all the time because it was hard to find good quality ones, and it was cheaper by far. And I had better figure out how to sew a nursing bra in the next 4 months, because the only ones I can find in my size are $60.
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#21 of 27 Old 10-13-2008, 06:30 PM
 
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I would have to say IMHO sewing clothes and buying ready made clothes...well both can be really expensive, just epends on if you shop the sales , "reinvent" old clothing and check out thrift stores and such

I always shopped thrift stores and the like..so I do the same for yardage...or soon to be yardage
It used to be a sewing machine was a basic household appliance , much like a stove or microwave Now I recogonize I spend a bit of cash on sewing notions and machines and such, but for the average household / aspiring seamstress' having a machine around can save you tons of cash!
I made our own curtains for a fraction of the cost, it was very very simple and easy, I do constant repairs on items normally we would have thrown out and replaced. Ill of course make costumes this year for halloween out of what I have around here with maybe a little this and that from joanns if needed. I serged up kitchen place mats in 20 minutes...the list goes on and on.
I really think a mid grade basic sewing machine and some basic knowledge is to its operation is very very valueable to any family especially a young one just starting out
Ive taught both my daughters, 7 and 9 the basics , I really hope they show interest in the not so basic at some point!

Ok sorry Im a rambling fool sometimes LOL

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#22 of 27 Old 10-13-2008, 06:35 PM
 
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Id also like to add I taught myself to sew several years ago after getting ahold of a few absoloutely beautiful WAHM cloth diapers, while well worth their weight in gold I simply could not afford a full set.....I started making inserts for pockets with a serger..and branced out from there...diapering alone has made my sewing habit economical. I now sell on Ebay..while most arent going to get after it as I did..I still am an avid supporter os basic sewing machine operation to help a household run smoother and more economically!


Ok Im done now promise
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#23 of 27 Old 10-13-2008, 07:23 PM
 
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I think it's more worth it for kids' clothes. I can get baby clothes extremely cheaply, but the quality is awful. Made in China, which I'd prefer to avoid, and barely sturdy enough to last through one baby for three months, to say nothing of future kids I might have. Lots of Rowan's baby clothes have torn, popped poppers, or just generally fallen apart. The exceptions are her Pumpkin Patch clothes, which are sturdy and gorgeus, but cost about $30-$40 per item. And for a nice, fancy, dressy-up dress, the average is about $80. For baby clothes!

Which is why I'm about to google 'easy baby dress patterns'. If I were really frugal I'd use thrift shop sheets nd stuff for fabric, but I keep being seduced by gorgeous craft prints. I spent over $20 on enough material to make a bonnet and some frilly overpants. : She'll look adorable in 'em, but I'd better have ten more girls after her to make it worthwhile!

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#24 of 27 Old 08-21-2013, 11:53 AM
 
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I follow my religious dress codes and the only way I can find clothing that fits me and my religious codes and that last is by sewing.  I make comfortable clothing to wear for all seasons. Sewing for the right reasons is an investment that is worth it because I don't have to deal with layering clothing in the summer.  

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#25 of 27 Old 08-29-2013, 07:26 AM
 
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modestfashions, I also have what I guess you could call religious dress codes. Here are more details for anyone interested: http://cora.dashjr.org/trad/modesty.html

 

Kudos to those who taught themselves to sew. I do not have the right kind of brain, or enough patience, or something, for that. When I was in home economics class in seventh or eighth grade, I couldn't for the life of me figure out how to thread the sewing machine, and I always had to ask the teacher how to help me. I still don't know how to do it, as I haven't had any practice since then. I don't own a sewing machine, and I don't see any point in owning one unless I can find a friend who has enough time to teach me and my oldest daughter. (Sorry, please excuse my frustrated little rant) I can do very basic sewing by hand, have to be reminded how to sew a button on, and that's about it.

 

In my experience, buying at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore and Goodwill and the children's consignment shop near my in-laws' house has been affordable. For example, I bought three shirts (two nice enough to wear to church) and one dress at HHRS for under $10 total. The children's consignment shop isn't that nice to my wallet, unfortunately, but it is still easier than buying new clothes online or at some other store. All three of those stores' clothes are almost definitely less expensive than buying everything I would need to make the clothes if I knew how to sew.

 

I'm glad to see this discussion! Even if it's hard for me to read because I know so little about sewing, I'm learning a little.


May God bless you and His Blessed Mother Mary keep you!  :-)

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#26 of 27 Old 06-08-2014, 05:42 PM
 
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Some sewing machines for those who are sewing challenged

Catholic Mama--

I know this is an old thread, but I have a new Brother sewing machine (Innovas 950D), and it automatically threads the needle for you! In addition, it is computerized so a lot of things that in older machines you have to do manually, this machine does automatically. I love it! Real sewing experts will tell you that old Singer sewing machines are sturdier and better quality, but for those of us who just didn't get all of it in sewing class or home ec, some of the newer machines are dummy proof. Walmart has a much cheaper version of this machine called the SE 400, which is not as sturdy as the Innovas 950D.
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#27 of 27 Old 06-08-2014, 06:16 PM
 
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Mama Shifra, thank you for replying. I appreciate your advice. My mother-in-law gave me a much older sewing machine for Christmas 2013 that has mostly (or maybe all) metal parts and it is a struggle to find someone patient enough with enough time to show me how to use it (even with the directions that came with it). I will keep your advice in mind for the future in case this doesn't work out for me or if/when I want to buy one for my daughter someday.

May God bless you and His Blessed Mother Mary keep you!  :-)

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