Sewing clothing?
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  1. #1
    Registered User Ciamak1020's Avatar
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    Default Sewing clothing?

    I have recently taken up an interest in sewing. I think I could sew a lot of our clothes and it seems like it would save a lot of money. I mean, is it really that hard? I have no experience with sewing but think I’m going to get a sewing machine and give it a try. What I’m wondering is, is it really cost effective to make your own clothing? Also, is it possible for a beginner to pick up a pattern and sew a pair of pants or a jacket? What should I get to get started beside a sewing machine? Any input would be appreciated. Thanks in advance!

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    Moderator Ceashels's Avatar
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    I've found that fabric is expensive. Even with coupons for 40% off at JoAnns, my finished product still tends to cost more than I hope. It doesn't mean that I won't make my own dresses since I have a style that I really like, but I just don't expect to have a lot of savings for adult clothing. I am interested in restyling clothing though and recreating things to wear from thrift store finds. Others here do that and I want to learn.

    I've been watching "Sewing with Nancy," "Stylicious" and "Threadbangers" and have been picking up on how clothing is constructed. It has helped inspire me.

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    Registered User Contrary Housewife's Avatar
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    Most of the time you will just be sewing straight seams, so it's not too difficult. There are a lot of "easy" patterns available for beginners and you do not need a fancy machine, just basic stitches. They will try to sell you on bells and whistles and 99% of it you do not need. A well running 2nd hand machine will suit your needs just fine.

    However I think you'll find it's not cheaper to make your own clothing after you add up the cost of fabric and notions. I mean, a spool of thread costs $3 and you can buy tops at Walmart on clearance for that price. But if you're an odd size or hard to fit the advantage is in being able to make clothing that fits you and looks good for your shape -- at least after you learn the basics of sewing, style and fit.

    I don't mean to discourage you, but it will take some time for you to get to that point if you are new to this. Try to find someone who sews to teach you the basics and help you with patterns (they can be confusing to read, even to experienced people), or take a series of classes at a fabric store.
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  5. #4
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    I've found that sewing clothes that I wear every day or really basic clothes are not cost effective because of the price for patterns and fabric. It's cheaper to watch sales and thrift stores to pick up pieces that way.

    I have found, however, that sewing gives me more options for the sale or thrift clothes. Lots of times I'll find a great pair of pants that are too long and knowing how to hem them means I can spend $5 on the pants and a half hour of my time and have a great deal. Sewing is also good for times when I need something fancy or special and I don't want to spend the money on it. For example, my sister needed a bridesmaid dress for a wedding and instead of paying a couple hundred dollars for it, I could custom sew exactly what she wanted for less.

    Sewing can also be a good deal if you use recycled fabric. For example, I had a shirt with a couple of stains that I could not get out. Rather than toss it or use it for rags, I cut pieces out of it for a small zippered pouch, a few quilt pieces, etc. By using it in other projects I could make stuff without spending money on fabric.

    Besides a sewing machine, the next thing I use most often is my iron and ironing board. Making sure the fabric is flat and pressing seams and folds make sewing much easier. After that you just need a few basic supplies to get started - straight pins, tape measure, scissors, space to work. Some really nice to have items are a marking pencil for transferring pattern marks onto the fabric and a zipper foot for your sewing machine if you're going to put in zippers. If you're just starting, I'd recommend the easy Simplicity patterns because I think they have the easiest directions to follow.

    Good luck!

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    Registered User monkeywrangler71's Avatar
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    I've been sewing for 25 years and still can't make a jacket. Maybe you have a natural talent for it, I don't. Mind you, I haven't been sewing every day for a quarter century, just off and on, but I will never be at that level.

    I can buy clothes cheaper than I can make them, except for little skirts - which I'm too old for now anyway. It depends on your size as well, when you buy clothes they charge the same for everyone, when you make them, the cost increases with every inch. The bigger you are, the more expensive it is to sew your own clothes. Which is why I only make clothes for my kids now. I can make my 3 year old a simple dress with $2 worth of fabric. I make their pyjamas, play clothes, etc. Quick, easy things with ugly or recycled fabric that I got for free.

    If you want to try sewing, you should ask on freecycle for some fabric and an old sewing machine, maybe some lessons, instruction books, patterns etc. Otherwise it would be a fairly significant investment to buy everything new, with very limited chance of recouping much.
    Last edited by monkeywrangler71; 04-16-2009 at 12:26 PM.

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    Registered User Labontet's Avatar
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    I do clothing repair/alterations at home. I had someone call me to see if I could make her a pair of pants. Knowing myself as I do, I knew that I did not want to put out the time and expense of buying a pattern, material, zipper, thread, buttons, etc. to do this. I would have to cut out the pattern, then cut the fabric, then sew and serge the hems. Then I would have to get the person to try the pants on and probably would have to resew the pants in some areas, maybe more than one time. With the price of all the items and the time I would have to put into the pants I know it would not be worth my time to sew a pair of pants from scratch. I told the lady that probably her best option would be to go to a thrift store or Goodwill ( you can find things with original tags on them sometimes or in very good condition) and buy a pair of pants that would fit her in the hips. (don't worry about the waist or length, those I could take up easily) To me it is far easier and cost efficient to alter an item that has already been constructed.

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    As a child, my mother made all of my clothes. We lived in CA, so most of my outfits were the same pattern, different fabric sun dresses. I looked cute though.

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    Registered User mommy4ever's Avatar
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    Fabric isn't cheap. But if you're good at it, you'll be much nicer garments for your money.

    I'm hard to fit in store bought, i took drafting so that I could draft my own pants.... ends up I'm hard to fit pattern wise too

    But I can make some pretty darn funky things for my kids. I still sew for my 12 yo. But usually it's alterations and remaking and embellishing.

    I do lots of pj pants for us all, but find t-shirts are cheaper to buy for sleep wear than make.

    However if I'm looking for a nice fitting quality item, hand made is what goes the distance.

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    Registered User 2ndGenGranola's Avatar
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    For everyday bum around clothes it is just not cost effective. I do make some of my dressier items. I needed a black dress for a Christmas choir concert a couple years ago. I was able to make a formal for $25ish. It has taken years to get to that point. I would start by making jammies. You can test fabrics and stitches and not worry about wearing mistakes in public.

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    When I was a kid we learned by making aprons or ties for boys
    then straight dresses or skirts.
    Once you get into shirts,jackets,coats you have to line them.
    Fit is the thing that can get complicated.
    If you get a pattern from a resale shop they can be as low as .40 but up to $20. for designer patterns at the store.
    As people have said,repurpose material from a resale shop is much cheaper.
    If your smaller you may be able to repurpose lg. clothes down to your size. Thats what I did a lot when I was in my teens.
    If your bigger size and hard to fit. Larger and short,big busted,short waisted it may be worth it.
    You can save by making your own veil,wedding gown,prom dress,bridesmaid dress etc. because those things are expensive.

    On a different note it is a good skill to know. I have saved hundreds hemming my husbands pants,making drapes,cut down a clearance bed spread for my son once. You can make excellent money sewing boyscout patches on for parents. People on ETSY sell all kinds of things for impressive money. i would sugget taking a couple of courses instead of trying to teach yourself.

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    Registered User Momto2Boyz's Avatar
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    I've found that making your own clothes CAN be cost effective, sometimes!

    I limit myself to the "cheap" patterns. Simplicity and Butterick have patterns under the headings "Sew Easy" and something else, that cost either $2.95 or $2.99. The styles are limited, but there are some really cute things. I invested in a couple if these in styles I really liked, and I've used them several times, and at the cost of less than $3, purchasing the pattern was cost effective!

    As far as fabric goes, think outside the box. You have a couple of options...sales fabrics are great, but limited. I know when I used to shop at Walmart, they had fabric for a dollar a yard regularly. (that is the only thing I miss about shopping there). Check the remenants bin, becuase sometimes they have full yards marked down too.

    Other than that, I find that "recycling" fabric is alot of fun! You can find things at the thrift stores or garage sale cheap. I find things like XL ankle length dresses, old light weight blankets and things like that, that make really cute and really unique clothing!

    I'm actually planning on making myself a couple of tank tops this morning.

    Basically, if you already have a very small budget for clothing (like shopping thrift stores or only clearance racks) it may not be that cost effective. But if you are purchasing clothing at full price at $15 or more, it is cost effective.

    Personally, I like to be able to express myself in my clothing, and it is alot easier to do when I make my own clothes. I'm not at the mercy of designers and what is "on the rack". Plus, I am somewhat large busted, but wear a size between medium and small otherwise. Alot of things I buy, just don't fit on top, they assume if you are a medium or a small, you are small all over! So I tend to have more showing than I like on top. So, at least when I make my own clothes, I can tailor them to fit, and show as little or as much as I am comfortable with!

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    Moderator mauimagic's Avatar
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    Love all the ideas shared so far - all sooooo true.

    Have been sewing for 55 years, first all by own clothes starting at age 8 and am still sewing professionally. I do it because I love it!!

    Best advice I can add = cutting is the critical part of creating clothing. Take your time pinning patterns and then cutting them.

    Looking forward to hearing what you decided to do!!

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    I sew frugally, but not my own clothes. I find thrift store clothing cheaper. Check this blog post for frugal sewing ideas.

    Mostly I get my fabric for free by joining groups like Freecycle, Full Circles, etc. and asking for fabric. People are always getting rid of stuff it seems. Here's one haul in one day! Mind you this is extreme.

    Oh, and I have a membership card to a local fabric store. They have 50% off on notions twice a year. I go in with a list and pick up what I need then.
    Last edited by peanut; 04-18-2009 at 07:44 PM.

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    Registered User Labontet's Avatar
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    Good information on the blog post peanut. Thank you for giving the link.

    Many good ideas even for the people who have been sewing for awhile


    Cheryl

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