Shopping for clothes can get expensive, not to mention frustrating if you happen to be hard to fit. Sometimes you might like the style of a garment, but not the color. Or, you like the color, but not the cut. Plus, there’s that added nuisance of seeing someone else wearing the very same thing. You get the gist of it.

Ever thought about making your own clothes? Aside from saving money (more on that later), making your own clothes can be very rewarding. You have control over how your clothes fit, the color, and what fabric they’re made of. Another benefit is not having to worry about “seeing yourself on the street”, so to speak. Your style will be completely and uniquely yours.

If you’re thinking of taking the plunge, you’ll need some supplies. If you don’t already have a sewing machine, a very basic one can be purchased for less than $100 at Walmart. Singer and Brother are but a few of the good brands on the market. You could also by a second-hand one on Craig’s List or at your local thrift store.

Take Your Measurements

Before you choose fabric or a pattern, you need to measure yourself. You can do it yourself or get a trusted friend or family member to help you with that. Here is a very helpful tutorial for taking measurements.

Select a Pattern

Once you’ve measured yourself and written down the measurements, you can now choose a pattern. Start with something simple, like a t-shirt or a skirt. If your first project is too complicated, you’re liable to get frustrated and/or discouraged. Many patterns are geared toward beginners.

Though the price of patterns has gone exponentially up in the last few decades, you don’t have to pay an arm and a leg for a pattern. You can find cheap patterns at Goodwill, garage sales, Ebay, or even get free patterns from family or friends. JoAnne’s or Hobby Lobby often have great sales on their patterns. You just have to keep checking.

Choose Your Fabric

You’ve chosen your pattern, now it’s time for the fun part-choosing fabric for your project. Fabric can be expensive, I won’t lie to you. But, there are ways you can save money on fabric and notions like thread. Coupons, such as those for JoAnne Fabrics, can be a real plus (sign up for mailers or download the app).

If you have access to a computer and the internet, fabric can be found for much less. For instance, jersey knit can be ordered for as little as $4.95 per yard at Fashion Fabrics Club. Another option for saving money on fabric is to go to your local estate sale or thrift shop. Sheets, tablecloths, and draperies can purchased for $1 and are made of beautiful fabrics. Even an oversize garment (in good condition, that is) can provide fabric for a project.

Getting Down To It

If you don’t know how to sew, JoAnne’s offers beginner classes for $35. When you’re in a room with other sewers, their enthusiasm can be contagious and really motivate you. They might even be able to help you if you’re stuck.

If you can’t afford to take classes (or don’t have a JoAnne’s Fabric nearby), YouTube offers really good videos that will teach you to sew. If you’re a visual learner like me, it really is the next best thing to taking a class. I actually taught myself to crochet by watching videos. Watch as many as you can. Gather as many tips to sew effortlessly as you can. There are plenty of them just free of charge.

Doing the Math

You’re probably wondering just how much money you’re saving if you have to spend it on a sewing machine, fabric, pattern, thread, buttons, and classes. Adding all that up may seem to defeat the purpose, especially if that shirt ends up costing $50 to make, there is more to consider than just the dollar value. There is also quality, the time and care taken to make the clothes fit perfectly. Attention to detail in the construction of a garment makes it last longer than a factory-produced fifteen-dollar shirt. Over time the savings do add up.

Final Thoughts

Being able to make your own clothes will empower you. Not only can you make things for yourself, you can also make gifts for other people. You avoid contributing to sweat shops and child labor. You also cut down on chemicals used in manufacturing garments. It’s a win all around.

Author bio: Alex Moore is a self-taught seamster, decorator and guest blogger. See more of Alex’s articles on Twitter @Alex_Moore01.

Gary Capps

I live in the one of the most beautiful places in the world on the Sunshine Coast in Australia with my wife and our 2 dogs, Poppy and Mia. Since 2009 I have helped over 15,000 handmade business owners to grow their business with our software and free tools designed for todays entrepreneurial artisan.

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