10 Tips for Sewing Your Way to Savings

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SEW TO SAVE MONEY

Sewing does require skill, no doubt about that. But for certain projects around the house or in your closet, it may be a worthwhile skill to learn and put to use. Sewing can save you a bundle on clothing and linens, although it's not always cheaper to make your own. Here are some ways to make sure your sewing projects pay off.

BUY ONLY CHEAP PATTERNS

Project patterns usually cost about $10 to $15, which doesn't count the cost of the required materials. Be flexible and collect patterns as you find them on sale. Fabric stores often put patterns on clearance for as little as 99 cents. You can also find free sewing patterns online.

CHOOSE PATTERNS YOU'LL USE MORE THAN ONCE

It may be worth spending more for a pattern if it's something you can make over and over in multiple fabrics. Such projects might include pajama pants, pencil skirts, or even girls' dresses.

SHOP FABRIC SALES

Fabric can cost anywhere from a few dollars to more than $10 a yard for a specialty item such as upholstery fabric. Save by stocking up on versatile fabrics when stores do markdowns. Additionally, keep an eye out for coupons. Fabric stores frequently offer coupons worth 40 percent to 50 percent off. Even if the coupon is good for only a single yard of fabric, that could be enough to make an entire project worthwhile.

REFASHION WHAT YOU ALREADY OWN

You may be sitting on a mother lode of fabric and not even know it. When it's time for spring cleaning, take a second look at any old clothing set aside for donation. You can turn sweaters into bags, shirts into skirts, and dresses into pillowcases. The same is true for shopping at the thrift store. It's full of cheap "fabric" if you use your imagination.

SAVE MORE ON FORMALWEAR

Some sewing projects aren't cheap but still cost less than you would pay for the same product at the store. Dresses, skirts, and formal children's clothing afford the greatest opportunities for savings. With fabric coupons, a free pattern (such as this one from the site So Sew Easy), and a commitment of time, you might be able to pull together a $50 little black dress that would cost double off the rack.
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COMPARE COSTS IN ADVANCE

Before you even set foot in the store, know how much your intended project would cost to buy ready-made. And keep in mind that time is money. For example, if you can make curtains for less than the retail cost, a few at-home sewing sessions may seem appealing. But if it means spending several hours or even days to save just $10 or $20, you have to decide whether the effort is worthwhile. You might use sewing as a creative outlet, which counts for a lot.

FACTOR IN THE EXTRAS

When deciding whether to make or to buy, remember there are other materials involved besides the fabric. Do you need a new pattern? A zipper? Buttons? Embellishments? Although some of these items may be minor expenses, the cost of all the extras can mount quickly if you aren't careful. Buttons may be tagged at a few dollars apiece.

USE EVERY LAST SCRAP

You may be staring at leftover fabric from a completed project. Don't throw those remnants away. Put everything in a bin or basket, because you never know when a small piece of material or thread might come in handy. A scrap could cover the strap on a purse, turn into a tieback for a curtain, or serve as a fabric flower on a little girl's party dress. Creative use of such morsels could save you major dollars.

WEIGH QUALITY VS. PRICE

Often you do get what you pay for. When it comes to making vs. buying something like a wedding dress, a baptism outfit, or a baby sling for a newborn, going the retail route might lead you to the quality you want. Of course, if you sew at a professional level, this line of thinking might take you in the opposite direction.

CHOOSE YOUR PROJECTS WISELY

If you aren't careful, you could end up spending a lot more money trying to craft items on your own. Children's clothes may be more economical to make than to buy, but menswear typically costs more to make. There isn't one hard and fast rule for what to make and what to buy; the cost-benefit calculation is up to you.