Is Making Clothes Cheaper Than Buying?


Sewing your own clothes used to be hands down the best way to save money on clothes just a few decades ago. However, with how cheap clothes have gotten these days, is it still worth it?

Depending on your needs, making your own clothes may be cheaper than buying them. Not only does it save you money on labor costs, but it also allows you to make a piece exactly the way you want it, guaranteeing that you’ll love it.

A lot of people get into sewing because they want to save a bit of money on clothes. If you have been wondering whether or not this is the best way to do it, this article will help you make up your mind.

Making clothes vs buying them

Many people believe that making their own clothes will save them money in the long run. While this used to be true not so long ago, it may not work the same way anymore. Today, clothes cost a lot less than they used to. However, the cost of fabric continues to rise by the day.

Here are a few questions you should ask yourself before diving headfirst into a DIY wardrobe:

What type of clothes are you buying and making?

This is what will make all the difference in the cost of clothing. Economical shoppers who have the habit of buying from big box stores know that the cost of clothing is far cheaper than that of fabric. Add in the notion of time, and are less likely to save money by making your clothes.

However, if you are one to buy high-end clothing from designer stores like Louis Vuitton and Dior, needless to say, making your clothes with even higher-end fabric will be a better option. Of course, this is assuming that you have the expertise to make these intricate and stylish designs.

For whom are you making the clothes?

Your chances of saving money by making your own clothes as an adult are very low. On the other hand, if the clothes are intended for children, then that is a different story. The prices of children’s clothes are often rather inflated and could cost as much, if not more than, adult pieces. Since smaller items need less fabric, sewing your own clothes in this case is not a bad idea. Also, since kids grow out of their clothes really fast, it may not be economical to keep buying new. Simply make your own clothes out of cheap fabric and save a ton of money in the process.

Just how good is your skillset?

If you are a beginner, you are far less likely to make complex pieces like formal dresses, blazers, coats, and so on. Your first projects will obviously have a lot of flaws, and your pieces will not make the cut as far as store-quality is concerned. They will also likely collapse under the weight of regular use and the passage of time. Besides, no one wants to walk into important events like interviews with handmade clothing that is barely holding itself together.

If you are an expert, however, this system might work for you. Bonus points if you can sew quickly because the time you save will make up for the inflation of fabric. Also, you will spend a fortune of you buy some quality pieces then have them tailored, so if you can create perfect outfits for yourself, you will end up saving lots of cash.

How can you cut down costs when making your own clothes?

If you intend to sew your own clothes, here are a few tips you could use to cut down on costs:

  • Use coupons: Some stores have coupons offered for non-sale fabrics. Even if you aren’t a fan of coupons, they can come in handy when you wish to get costly linens, knit fabrics or wool blends. In stores like JoAnnes’s Fabrics, you could sign up for their flyers and use their coupons lots of times.
  • Find a discount fabric store: Bigger cities have fabric stores that are dedicated to “end-of-run” fashion fabrics that are often at fairly good prices. Smaller towns usually do not have the industry that prompts these stores to crop up. So, the next time you visit a big city, why not do a bit of research to see if you could find one?
  • Purchase undyed fabric: In some stores, the quality of their fabrics vary from decent to excellent. For example, in San Rafael, California, their fabrics only come in white, meaning you have to dye them on your own, which adds up on costs, in terms of money and time. The catch is that their silks come at a price that makes it worth an option.
  • Get patterns on sale: Many pattern companies, like Simplicity and Vogues, have sporadic sales on their patterns, many times for 40% off. Most stores that carry them can have at least one in three sales at a given time. Patterns will sometimes be on sale for $1.99.
  • Copy patterns from others: Look around for patterns, even those by your friend, as a way of saving money spent on patterns. To do this well, you need pattern paper, but it is worth it. For the pattern size you need, you do not have to cut it out, but you could rather trace them by laying the pattern pieces underneath the dot paper. Do not forget to include the numbers, markings, and notches.
  • Thrift stores: These are good places to get good patterns, fabric, and notions. However, you need to know that often, the patterns are not complete and are cut out already to a precise size. It is sometimes worth taking the chance if you want to save huge costs.
  • Keep buttons of old clothes: There was a time buttons were so darn costly that no scruffy garments could only be discarded when all the buttons were detached and saved. If you find yourself having to end the work of your favorite coat or shirt, be sure to save the buttons, because you can use them again and again.

Why you should spend more on buying clothes

If someone were to tell you to spend $200 on a pair of denim jeans, you would think that they have lost their minds, especially if you are the type of person to spend cash on experiences rather than things. We either spend too much on clothes or very little on cheap clothing: that is just how society pushes us to extremes where clothing is involved.

So here are a few reasons why you should opt for the former:

  1. They will last longer

To say the least, the better an item is made, the longer it will stick around. You have probably bought a garment because it was cheap, only for it to fall apart in a short time. Quality clothing, albeit being more costly, is innately made better and will give you your money’s worth.

  1. You are more inclined to mix-and-match

Spending more money on just a few quality pieces will make you mix and match to create new looks and fits for your wardrobe. You will be more persuaded to work with what you have, especially if your skillset to sew clothes isn’t all that.

  1. You will have more use for them

If you spend more on clothing, you are more likely to wear it more times than your cheaper ones, which you probably just wear once in a while.

  1. You will have more comfort in them

The more expensive a fabric is, the better its quality, and the more comfortable you will feel in the clothing it produces. Synthetic fibers in cheap clothing is far less likely to keep you warm, and you are more prone to feel miserable in them.

  1. You will be less likely to shop on impulse

Spending only $20 on each piece of clothing will justify continuous purchasing. You will think that there is plenty of money because you have only spent a mere $20. You will end up buying items that you might not really love or won’t even wear much, just because they are cheap. However, when you truly take up the quest to find a high-quality item of clothing, you will be less likely to impulse-buy.

  1. You will be less prone to spend more at a later time

If your clothing serves you in all the ways mentioned above, then you really won’t have enough reason to run back to the store for more, just to refill your wardrobe.

Final Thoughts

For a lot of people, sewing is just a hobby. However, with the right skills, creativity, and passion, you can easily turn it into a business. However, making your own clothes may not be a particularly economical idea on its own unless you have a great source of cheap, high-quality fabric to work with. Still, if you are passionate about it, by all means, try it out and see how you like it!

Melanie Asiba

Melanie is an author. She enjoys traveling, reading and trying out new things. In addition to writing for Apartment ABC. Connect with her at [email protected]

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