Is It Worth Sewing
My Own Clothes?
By Nikki Willhite
Sewing is coming back into vogue. Many people are tired of the
cookie-cutter type clothing found in retail stores. They want
something unique, and want to show off their creativity.
Sewing was once considered the economical way to dress. You
could buy fabric at JCPenneys, as well as most of your local dime
In the last few decades, we've seen fabric pulled from all our
department stores and other retailers. Many fabric chains have
gone out of business. Those left with fabric are either quilt
stores, or lean toward calicos and other quilting fabrics.
What happened, and is it still worth sewing my own clothing?
As with so many other items, cheap labor abroad has reduced the
price on the clothing found in our retail stores. When
clothing goes on sale, you can find high quality garments ready
made at very affordable prices. This has made sewing less
Sewing is work, takes time, and the outcome is not always
certain. When you purchase an item in a retail store, you have
the luxury of trying it on first, to make sure that the fit is
prefect, and that the outfit is flattering on you.
When you sew, you don't have that luxury. You have to know
beforehand that the fabric you are buying is going to work for
you, and that the pattern you are making has lines that will both
fit and flatter your body type.
Added to this is the assumption that you are an accomplished
seamstress, and that you will not have any problems with the
construction of your garment.
Having said this, there are many reasons people may still want to
sew their own clothing.
The price of a basic sewing machine is still very reasonable. For
a few more dollars, you can buy a machine with many "extras",
like decorative sewing stitches, and computerized features.
Sergers, a little more expensive, give a professional finish to a
garment, resulting in increased satisfaction with your work.
You may want to sew your own clothing if your figure is hard to
fit, or if you have trouble finding colors you like.
On the negative side, if you pay full retail price for the
notions and fabric you need to sew an outfit, it will be
There is a huge markup in both patterns and fabric. You should
never pay full retail price for either. Patterns, marked to sell
at $8.00 or more, go on sale regularly for a dollar. You can
often get them free with the purchase of your fabric.
If you are careful with your choice of style, you won't have to
purchase as much fabric.
Fabric, at stores like JoAnns, is always on sale, usually for at
least 50% off retail. If it is not on sale, you can usually
access a coupon for 40-50% off one cut of fabric.
You can also buy fabic on the Internet. Most Internet stores
will have a free shipping sale a few times each year.
Another negative can be sewing space. If you don't have a place
to sew, other than the dining room table, it will be messy. If
you have small children, you are going to have to be very
careful, as pins and needles are hard to keep from falling on the
If you do have a dedicated sewing space, however, that place
may become your haven, and you will thoroughly enjoy every minute
you spend there.
Sewing can become a passion. Buying fabric can become one of
life's greatest joys. ( I quilt- don't ask me about my stash!)
To me, being frugal has always meant saving money on the things
that don't matter to you so that you can have the things that do
matter to you.
So is it frugal to sew your own clothing? Perhaps yes, perhaps
no. I think the real question is "Do you want to do it?"
Sewing is a very versatile skill. Even if you don't want to make
your own clothing, you have other options.
Children clothes are great to make. Just learn a few basic
pieces, and you can make them in different fabrics and sizes.
Most patterns come in several sizes.
Great seamstresses can pull apart adult garments and reuse the
fabric for childrens' clothing.
Special Occasion Dresses can be very expensive and hard to find
in the store. If you fabric is very expensive, make your outfit
in muslin first so that you know it will fit. Then, pull it apart
and use the muslin as the pattern for your expensive fabric.
Sewing for your home can result in significant savings and
beautiful, unique decor. Drapery panels are easily made with
simple straight stitching lines for hems. The only hard part is
dealing with so much fabric.
Easier to make are pillow, shams, tablecloths, napkins,
table runners and even bedspreads and dust ruffles.
Bottom line- sewing is a great hobby, and can even turn into a
home business. If you enjoy it, do it. If you don't, shop the
sales and don't feel guilty. Either way, you win.