Friday, April 9, 2010

Friday Confession


A topic that has come up tangentially in a few of our recent Friday conversations has been that of money - more specifically, sewing and saving money. Truthfully, I sew because I enjoy it, and while I don't walk away from fabric and pattern sales (at least, not empty handed!), I couldn't honestly justify the sewing that I do by saying that I've saved money over clothes shopping at Target or JC Penney's.

Ana, my friend from Mexico, recently pointed out that it is pretty much always cheaper to sew your own clothes in Mexico, but, in her opinion, sewing in the US is often more expensive than shopping at your local Walmart.

So, what about you? Do you sew specifically to save money? Do you think that you do save money by sewing? Does the money matter? I'd love to hear how you think about sewing and money...

Photo credit: Rob Lee

27 comments:

Lori said...

I sew because I enjoy it so much. I really don't think I save any money but I do have great garments to where. The older I get (don't want to admit that) the harder it is to find clothes, so I sew.

Julie said...

I sew because nothing in the store fits me well. I do save money on most garments I make because I'm a huge bargain shopper. I don't aim to save money though. I'd gladly pay more for a well-fitting garment that lasted for a long time but I don't often find those in stores. I also sew to have garments of a better quality. So many cute things on the store racks but after one wash, they look cheap or worse, fall apart.

gwensews said...

Wherever do you find the great photos at the top of your posts? They are always perfect!

I definitely don't sew to save money. I sew for fit and because I love to create.

Julia said...

I sew to save my daughters money!!! I sew for their children so they don't have to buy stuff!!! I don't think I could buy most of the dresses I make for my grands for the amount that I put into them, just because of the handwork that is usually in them, but play clothes would definitely be less expensive at Wally World and Tarjet. I really sew mostly because I have a passion for creating things and for the pleasure of the smiles and hugs I receive in return.

Kristine said...

I returned from my hiatus from sewing when my daughter was a toddler. I could NOT believe the prices of cute little dresses that were made of less than a yard of fabric! While I could shop some stores and save money, I hate to think of the "slave" labor (i.e. poor working conditions, not supporting the American garment industry) that may have put that garment together, also. If you haven't seen the HBO documentary "Schmatta", it's really interesting.
I will grab nice fabric when it's on sale for future use for my whole family, but primarily I sew for the pure enjoyment of it.

Lady Jenn said...

I sew because I can make clothes that are better quality - which means sometimes it the same or more money than buying it.

As a person who has bought clothes from Wal-mart (tshirts, and jeans mostly)...

I have started to make my own tshirts - and my childrens' - because the quality really is bad - and my clothes are better quality and last longer!

waikikimum said...

As a plus sized short person I sew for fit. Some things I make are cheaper and others are more expensive when you add in cotton, zippers and any other embellishments. I must say though that I sewed 3 ball gowns for my daughter over the last few years and that was waaaaay cheaper. Like $120 compared with $800 per gown.

linda turske said...

I sew because it is cheaper than therapy! ;) I enjoy it. It is my break from reality! Although I do think when I shop and wait for sales I can sew for less or at least break even. And if I make it, no one else is wearing the same outfit at church! ;O

Cole's Corner said...

hahahahhahahahhahah!

I tell my husband that we save money... but it's a big fat lie.

I can make clothes prettier and less expensive and if I wouldn't stock pile enough fabric for 100 children, we'd probably come out cheaper- however... I have a serious problem with buying too many fabrics, trims, buttons, patterns, embroidery files... the list goes on and on.

When people say sewing is cheaper- I just chuckle.

stitchywitch said...

I guarantee you that I spend more now on sewing supplies than I ever spent on my clothes - but then, I'm a dedicated thrift shopper, and probably used to spend under $200 for a whole year! I do see it as a quality and fit issue - I can have clothes that last, and that are made exactly to my taste. I also consider sewing to come out of my entertainment budget as well as the clothing budget, and when you figure it that way (and don't go out much!) it isn't so bad.

Tamara said...

I do not sew just to save money although generally I think that I do save. I sew because I love it but I am a quality fabric bargain shopper and I find lots of bargains. I just sewed up a few shirts for my boys.
Cost of high-tech wicking fabric from name brand companies: $1
Cost that they would have been in the store (REI): at least $20
I also recreated a dress for my daughter based on a Hanna Anderson dress. The fabric cost around $25 but the dress from them would have been $50. Again I saved some money. I don't save compared to walmart and target but I don't buy clothes from there much anyway. I save money when I compare prices to the higher end stores where I would buy (and is more closely compared to the quality I sew).

Anonymous said...

When I learned to sew it probably was cheaper to sew than buy clothes, but not any more. I continue to sew all these years later because it is a creative outlet that also provides me with clothes of better quality that fit better than RTW.

Lois K

Faye Lewis said...

Initially I would have to say that I sew for enjoyment and better fit - not to save money. But when I think about it, every time I make a garment I can't help think about what that particular garment would cost me if purchased in a store. Considering the quality of garments sewn - I do think I am saving money.

Cindy said...

I sew because the sewing seed was planted in me at birth so it's a part of me. It's where I find my peace, my yoga, my zen. The world is ok as long as I can play with fabric. The rewards are great to make something for yourself or for others to see what smiles it brings...for many years your sewing projects stay with you. Just like a song it brings you back to when you put the thread in the fabric. Since it's a part of me it has no cost because we should give ourselves that which we desire most. It's what life's all about.

Now about price, When I pull out some old buttons in my stash that were .35c where now I'm paying a few $ I know I don't save money. Most really nice fabric could be $10-20yrd. And as you know from your cards :) with pants, dresses, jackets you need more than a couple of yards of fabric. By the time you buy your fabric, zipper, buttons, thread...really you could buy it in the store for less. But it wouldn't be put together with love. Now back in the day I can remember buying fabric for $1 and $2 all the time. Then it did pay to sew. Now you do it for the pleasure because it sure isn't a cheep hobby to do.

Just to mention. I had a student come in one time who paid $50 for one yard of fabric. I asked her what she was going to do with it. She said she was afraid to cut it and wanted to make a top. :) Not a good idea to pay $50 a yard.

Enjoy all your sewing moments!!

Cindy said...

OH and I wanted to say
VERY COOL PICTURE! I'm gonna keep that baby :)

Alison said...

I sew because nothing in the store fits me like something I make. However, if I can save some money, I will. Recently I made a top from $4 a metre fabric (on sale) and found the same fabric made into a fairly ordinary T in a plus size women's catalogue for AU$130!!

Clothes are more expensive here in Australia. Tshirts in Target start at $20 and I can certainly make a better one for that money. When I see something I like in a store, I immediately look at the price tag & think "I can make that for less".

American clothes shopping is a totally different ballgame!

Shannon Hillinger said...

I sew for a bunch of reasons, most of which I saw in other people's comments (it's fun, ready to wear doesn't fit everyone, it is cheaper for special items like kids clothes and party dresses).
But when I think of the cost benefit ratio of home sewing, I don't compare it to target or walmart. Yes, clothes there are cheaper. They are also poorly made, use low quality materials and are not sustainably produced. If we try to compare the cost of anything we do for ourselves like cooking, gardening or sewing to big box stores, we will always lose.

marysews said...

I allegedly sew for fitting purposes, but now I sew because I have all that darn fabric. I would rather use it than give it away ...

gaylen said...

interesting topic and comments. Mostly I sew because I enjoy it and I can wear fun, interesting clothes that aren't available for purchase.

Occassionally I sew because it's less expensive. I recently saw a dress in the LP catelog. it was stunning - at $438 it should be. It was also white. In 3 minutes I would spill coffee on a white dress. I found similar fabric in a color I won't stain and while the dress will still be expensive - it wll be les expensive than the original. g

CarlaF-in Atlanta said...

I sew because: 1) I enjoy it 2)fit. I'm still learning this 3) I wear very few trendy clothes. Right now I want a pair of navy pants. You can't find them in the store but I've got navy fabric and as soon as I learn to sew pants that fit I'll have a pair or three.

Becky said...

For me, it depends. Sewing is mainly a personal expression sort of thing for me--the stuff that's in stores either bores me or it's too tight/short/whatever for my taste. So I'll make things up in more fun fabrics, or do a similar style but with a more modest cut. For that, I probably don't save money. But then I'll do things like copy an $80+ dollar blouse I saw in Anthropologie using a $3 men's shirt from the thrift store in a color I like better, and then I save a lot! And now that I'm working on learning how to fit myself better, I think I'll save myself money in the long run (at least on pants) by making one pair that fits really well instead of having to cycle through several that fit ok when I bought them, but then get too big at the waist after the first washing and annoying things like that.

I also think it depends on how you define whether something is truly a bargain or not. Someone else here mentioned wanting to avoid clothes made with sweatshop labor, and that's something I've definitely become more conscious of over the last couple of years. As well as the environmental impact of clothes--the fashion industry is one of the most wasteful ones there is anyway, and so many Americans view their clothes as disposable. So if you consider how it's made, that $3 T-shirt from Wal-mart compared to the slightly more expensive one I made with fabric that I can minimize the waste from and guarantee that it wasn't made by some kid in a sweatshop might not be such a bargain after all. Especially because mine will probably last a lot longer. (Though then I start to wonder about the actual fabric production and how that's made/who it's made by....ugh.)

Uta said...

Good question! I think about this a bit more lately, because my fabric cupboards are full. To keep myself from mindlessly buying more, I've set myself a sewing budget. Also as a bit of a "challenge", to see how much money I really need/use to keep sewing as much as I have in the last year or so. Do I save money? I always shopped for clothes very price-consciously.Fabric costs can vary, but notions cost a lot. And something like a coat just need a whole lot of materials. The kids could be clothed in hand-me-downs and a couple of thrifted things. Seen like that I don't save money; hopefully, with my new "budget", I'll come out even. If I didn't sew and I bought garments like those I'm sewing RTW (which I wouldn't), that might be more expensive, so I'm "saving" on a more theoretical level.
This is something my mom talks about a lot - she hails from a time when sewing was a necessity because of financial constraints. She sometimes has a hard time understanding why I'd invest all that work when inexpensive and cute clothes can be bought.

sewducky said...

I sew because I DO save money.

I am good enough at it that what I make I cannot afford to buy. I'll be honest, it IS why I sew.

I have been very fortunate that I have great friends that are older and don't sew anymore, never really learned and those that have been kind and pampered me, so some of my "expensive" fabrics have been donated. The rest I shop well and get fabric I like for very little. In the end, I may pay $20 for a dress that would have cost me 100 or more.

I have a pattern when I finally do get married that I will make, and it cost me nothing for it because the thrift store laughed at me for saying "OMG! I SO am going to wear this in Vegas with an Elvis impersonator!!" That pattern is at least $30 right now. I plan on making it in bright red silk, of which I can get on sale for $10 a yard (cost is about $70) and I plan on making a corset (my cost 120 vs. 400). Am I going to save on the dress? Yes. About a tenth of what it is going to cost me new. Can I get ready to wear cheaper? Yep. But not a skanky red dress to wear in Vegas.

Depends on what you want to have versus what you are willing to wear. I like expensive clothes that are classic and retro and I'd pay out the nose for that. I CAN make these cheaper. If I wanted to wear Wal-Mart clothes, not so much, but then I'd hate the clothing.

I also had about a 5 year period where if I didn't sew, I would have had no clothing at all. Did it save me a lot of money? Yes. I managed to sew for my son for school, and I made all our clothing exclusively for 2 years. Without it, both of us would have been in trouble. Now that things are better in my life, I can do it because I want to and I want to dress better then I can afford.

Karin (the mrs) said...

I sew because I love to sew. The money factor isn't the reason that I pick up fabrics, draw patterns, and spend time in my atelier. It's just something I love to do, it relaxes me and grounds me.

Besides that, I like my clothing, and the clothing of my little ones, to be special, with interesting details, fun and original. And ofcourse there are stores here where you could find clothes so cheap that you could never sew them for that amount of money, but those are not the outfits of the quality and originality that I would like and buy.

So, do I save money buy sewing? I don't know. With some outfits I probably do, with others I don't. But really, to be honest, I don't really care. I just keep sewing anyway ;-)

Claire S. said...

I sew because I enjoy it.
Right now I'm still learning the skills to sew well and to fit. RTW shrinks and I have long legs and arms, can't afford the shrinkage. Sewing allows me to make things that will last longer than RTW does. Fabric is bought on sale - so I guess, yes I do save on the garments I complete.

Summerset said...

I sew because I love to sew. It does save me money - have you seen the prices on children's and adult's *quality* clothing recently? Besides, I also have a taste for very, very expensive clothing that I know I can make for much, much less.

Christiana said...

I sew because I love it! Does it save money? I guess it depends what you're comparing it to. When we sew we can determine the quality and style. Why waste your time and money in Walmart when you can do much better than that.