Is Making Your Own Clothes Cost Effective?

in the genes
in the genes

I like to quasi track how much I’m spending per item – I’ve been tracking it more or less for a few years now – I’ve done lots of posts about it. During the ginormous kids clothes sewing weekend, I made a LOT – there were also a few pairs of pj pants for the 8 year old boy in knit, etc. I had 2 very large purchases from that totaled around $200. These included large grab-bag remnant/seconds purchases that I’m still making items out of and includes a ton of swimsuit material, etc.

Zoe Bench Racerback
Zoe Bench Racerback and Blue Chalk

However, even with the 18 or so items I’ve made out of those large purchases, that puts me $11 per item, and anything I’d make from here on out would be gravy. I have a grip of yardage left to hoard play with, and I’m pretty sure it all justifies me buying more fabric being smug proud about not supporting sweat shops by buying fast fashion.

Baby Dress
Baby Dress

Sure, it might take few years to get to the point in your sewing skill-set to be able to whip up as much and as fast as I do, and, yeah, the serger is a nice perk, no doubt. But with kids’ clothes in particular, the fitting curve is a LOT looser, pun aside. An elastic waistband is acceptable. Ease is synonymous with “room to grow.” Not to mention, I can get a few items out of little yardage for kids…something for me often starts at a 2 yard commitment. Not that sewing for me isn’t worth it, it’s just a larger fabric and time commitment (I made 4 muslins before finally sewing up a pair of Colette Clover pants!)


I probably spend the bulk of my pattern money on patterns for me…my Colette stash, Papercut, etc. is mostly all for my wardrobe. I have 8 or so Ottobre issues, which is all anyone really needs, I’ve got some indie kids patterns from as well – which are super cost effective and easy to use. And lately, there is a mother-lovin’ GRIP of free patterns out there by the ever generous  blog queens of domestic loveliness. The racerback dress was free. FREE. The Sorbetto, FREE. My kids’ staples, even though I’ve spend a small community college tuition on patterns, my staples are mostly free patterns!

Monkey Bar Test 1
Colette Laurel

I also have been breeding a small army. If I end up with a lot more fabric than I need for one kid, I can use it for another. I don’t really run the risk of a kid having their entire wardrobe made of a single fabric….although those sales on seconds at may be challenging me on that front. And back to the patterns, Zoe is using Hazel’s old patterns, I have graded a few patterns I’ve gotten for me to use for Hazel, not just the Sorbetto.


Anywho, my point is, there is at no point where you can’t make it more cost effective than buying clothes. If I bought every single piece of fabric for my kids to destroy in the yard from Mood Fabrics or a quilting boutique,** yeah, I’d be bankrupt. But I hunt sales, coupons, factory seconds, buy enough for free shipping, etc. My machines are paid for, my dearest husband keeps me in wi-fi and technology (see free patterns, above), and my mom still spoils me with fabric gifts, funky garage sale patterns and will often drop off a few fat eighths as she’s a quilting junky too.

Glimpse of Mom's Sewing Room
Glimpse of My Mom’s Sewing Room

**I make a note here regarding quilting fabric. Quilts are meant to last AND be abused loved. Buying cheap quilting fabrics is a big old storm of disappointment. Cheap quilting cottons and linens will shrink all kinds of crazy in the wash, it feels like sandpaper, it wears out, you think making points match is hard?? Try it with fabric printed OFF GRAIN and suddenly you have a partial bias cut on a straight edge…yeah. ALL THE SWEAR WORDS happen. I have some Balkan Puzzle Squares that I keep in a very dark place in my wounded soul. Don’t do it.

Buy the BEST quilting fabric. No, not best as you can afford. I won’t give you that excuse like some will. It’s like grandma used to say, “I’m too poor to buy cheap stuff.” Meaning, if you have to replace something because it was cheap, then it’s not really less expensive, is it? When quilting, pony up.

Quilt Abuser Lover

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