Making your own clothes


I tried to search in case there was already a thread (or multiple threads) covering this topic but my search didn’t turn anything up, so I’m starting this thread.

I’ve wanted to learn to sew for quite some time, and I’m thinking it might be good to make my own clothes. If you’ll excuse me for a moment, I’m going to ramble through my reasoning.

Hubby and I are on a tight budget. In fact, right now we’re living with his parents to allow me to work (part time) from home and care for our son. His parents are very generous and are letting us stay pretty much as long as we need to so I can continue to be home with Bean.

I’ve heard lots of arguments in favor of making your own clothes to help cut costs. I have seen a difference in what I pay for clothes here in Orlando compared to central Illinois.

I could use some clothes now that I have a post-baby body, and if I make them, I can be sure they fit well, and aren’t too low-cut here or too short there. (It seems like many times I find a reasonably priced dress, but then I have to get a camisole to go under it or a cardigan to go over it, which makes the outfit a little more than I hoped or expected.)

Then again, I’ve heard people say that making your own clothes is the same cost as buying them.

I know I would still have to buy fabric, thread, closures, and some supplies (needles, scissors, etc.), but I’m curious if any of you have any insight into this?

Thanks so much!


I make my own (very simple) skirts. I found they’re more comfortable for me both pregnant and not pregnant. I haven’t actually tallied the cost of premade pants vs. homemade skirt; but I know that the skirts I make last way longer than the pants I bought (usually $32+/pair). I just reused a skirt I made when I was pregnant with our daughter (she’s 14 months now) as a lining for a denim skirt for the winter. It was getting a little worn, but is a perfect lining. It fit when I was ready to pop with her, and when she was out and about. I think I last wore it as a skirt in September of this year!

I’ve had to teach myself to sew, so I started very basic - elastic waisted a-line skirts. I want to start working on more ‘complex’ things, like tops and dresses, putting in zippers, that sort of thing. I’ve had 3 pregnancies in two years, so DH and I don’t see the point in investing in things that are so fitted, because I probably won’t fit it for long! :wink:

Another thing to consider - how much is your time worth? If I needed a new skirt and didn’t have time or energy to make one, 9 times out of 10 I could find what I needed at our local thrift store. I don’t even remember the last time I bought something new from a place like Target or anything. :o


Really? I’m here in Orlando too… are clothes really expensive here? :shrug:
I don’t shop for myself very often at all… and usually it’s at major sales anyway. I love browsing through JoAnn’s Fabrics - not that I’m a seamstress AT ALL, in fact I actually avoid being crafty because I tend to be too frugal (I can’t justify the cost of crafts often) - but I’m always shocked at how expensive the fabrics are! :eek: I understand wanting something custom-made, but does it really lower the cost? :shrug:
I tend to shop at Target, JCPenney, Ross, Old Navy, etc (I ONLY splurge at GAP for jeans), so maybe I’m just finding really good deals, but it doesn’t seem THAT pricey… :blush:


It’s not that things are really expensive here, but I do see a difference between what I pay now and I what I paid/pay in central Illinois for similar items.


Like what items? Which stores? (just curious)


I always use coupons at JoAnn’s - the skirt I made that I just turned into a lining cost me $3.99 total, and lasted about a year and a half (and beyond as a lining). Much better than $32 for pants that wear out in a year! :smiley:


Em, I can’t give specifics, but I when I was in Illinois visiting family in May, I remember thinking I wished I’d waited to get a skirt or something until I was in Illinois because I’d paid more in Florida.


This depends on a variety of factors.

How good of a shopper vs. a sewer are you?

Do clothes fit you and your family well “off the rack”? Or do you require specialty stores and tayloring to get clothes to fit right?

How picky are you and family members about your clothes? Do you desire a custom designer look? Special fabrics, certain colors or specific styles? Can find what you like in stores? Can you sew well enough to get everything you want?

How much value and joy would you find from sewing (and improving your sewing skills) vs. shopping?

As to my own personal experience, my shopping skills exceed my sewing skills. I’m pretty picky about how clothes look and fit–and I don’t sew well enough to achieve my own standards. Plus, I usually like to see clothes on before buying them. I have a mild interest in sewing, but I really enjoy shopping. I know what brands fit my family well, and I can buy them on-sale for cheaper than the cost of fabric. Yet…because it’s easier for me to shop than sew, (and since I like both shopping and nice looking clothes), there’s a stronger temptation to buy more than what we really need. It would save my family money if I stayed out of stores.


Thanks for your comments.

As I mentioned I still need to look at the costs of making vs. buying, but if I find that the difference is negligible, I think I’ll start making my clothes (at least some things) because I do have a desire to sew, and I think that outweighs my desire to bargain-hunt.


My grandmother, GOD rest her used to be a seamstress, she would make everything by hand, with her old sewing machine etc, she loved it! Blankets, clothes, etc…Her home was always decorated with all her great things that she made! That was her hobby and her full-time job!!! She made really good money too!! Everything hand made to fit the customer the way they wanted!!! My aunt is a seamstress it’s one of her full time jobs…and she loves it! She grew up with her mother teaching her how to do without sewing machine and with as well but she charges pretty expensive…She tells me that it’s better for you to buy something a little bigger and hem it the way you want it then have her make stuff from scratch because it is time consuming! She makes sure she has the people’s measurements exactly to the last little edge and curve!!! She doesn’t disappoint her customers but you have to have good money to afford her!!! She has 2 jobs and a part-time in the weekends…How she makes time for all this, she told me that’s how she grew up learning to make enough time for everything…she takes great care in her job and she makes sure her clothes are top of the line! :smiley: She made my sweet 15th dress but I didn’t even get to wear it, since we lived in different states, my mom ended up giving her measurements of me when I was 14 when she was making me a summer dress and the dress fit me large and then I got chicken pox so yeah! It was kind of a waste just stayed in the closet unused… :frowning: But it was a very lovely gown! One that many would have paid at least 200 dollars for it 15 years ago…

She has told me that depending on the material you are going to use it can be costly, because you don’t want too cheap material nor too expensive-she says too cheap can tear easily and too expensive well if you lose weight or gain you spend a lot of money to get it resized or remade…

My mother was taught by her grandmother and my mom can make gorgeous outfits! :smiley: She used to make mine and my sister’s outfits when we were little and man they were great!! She says she’s lost her touch…I just think she’s lazy!! :wink: She used to make our beddings and pillow covers and curtains. I remember she told me now-a-days that she could go with 30 bucks and get enough to make comforter, sheets, and window coverings for one of the kids rooms! :smiley: I know she’s really good at this kind of art and she wastes very little fabric! She always made her seat covers and they would fit perfectly on her couches and probably for a fraction of seat covers now and from really pricey material at that!

So I think it depends, because I have seen Walmart have the end of summer sales where things are priced 85% less the normal costs, a friend of mine last year went with 25 dollars and bought 25 dollars worth of baby clothes for her 1 year old!!! Everything was for 1 dollar for one day! Unfortunately I missed it!! :frowning: But I caught a great sale this year in the mall for clothes up to 85%+ percent off!! I seriously couldn’t believe it! Things that were 50-80 bucks for 3-10 dollars, I was impressed and amazed! I did Christmas shopping for family early this year! lol First time ever too!!! :slight_smile: But before then I was scraping to find great quality for lowest prices!! SO with sales like these right now it might be cheaper to just buy…unless you are not having any sales then it might be cheaper to make!!!

I haven’t bought anything new for me for about 6 months until that sale in the mall I bought me a shirt! :smiley: AND it was ticketed for 55 dollars and I paid 5 bucks for it!

So yeah, I wished they would have had sales like these for kids back to school man it would have been as if I won the lottery!!!

I know how to sew thanks to my mom, I hem pants, if something fits too lose I make it tighter, fix buttons, and just like when I moved my fiance ripped my couch trying to get it through the door and I was terrified I wouldn’t be able to make it look decent and unless you look for it and really look for it you can’t even tell there was a tear at all! I was actually proud of myself it took me about 30 mins to do it but man was it worth it to see my good couch looking ok!!! Instead of ripped up!!!

So I think making clothes could be a fun and money saving experience! You can go to the dollar store and buy a little sewing kit and it lasts for a while, or walmart has a nice sized one for about 5 bucks and that lasts a bit… Depending on the kind of thread you will need. You want the thickest possible esp for clothes that are worn daily and jeans…

I would definitely make my own clothes if I wasn’t so lazy!!! lol For me finding the cheapest things even if it’s once a year or once every 2 years work for me…But I know quite a few women whom prefer to make their own stuff and they make great things…better than the stores have to offer!


I made some of my own clothes in high school, but have gotten away from it now. It can be much cheaper ,if you wait for the sales on fabric and use the kind of pattern that has several different options. Check out your local fabric store to compare prices and see if they offer sewing classes. You could also make baby clothes. :blush:



I already have lots of ideas for clothes for me and Bean, as well as home stuff (blankets, throw pillows, table runners, etc.).

The more I think about it, the more I think I’m trying to justify the expense of the materials because I want to do it so much. :blush:

My mom asked me what I wanted for Christmas. Maybe I’ll tell her that a gift card to Joann’s would be perfect!


LOL, I can understand this! I personally don’t feel a strong desire to make my own clothes right now, but I am the same way about gardening!

I would agree with comments along the lines that buying at thrift stores has always been a cheaper way to go for me, and my own solution. However, if you know what you want, and if it doesn’t use horribly expensive materials, it might be a good way to combine a hobby with a real need that your family has - while getting exactly what you want in your clothing! I do get tempted to make my own clothes every time I head out in pants or a skirt with no pockets :slight_smile: but not willing to give up my gardening time!

I think your idea of suggeting a JoAnn’s gift card to someone looking for gift ideas is a good one.


I started to make clothes years ago because I did not like what was in the stores. when I would sew my own, I could pick the color I wanted, the style and the fit. Eventually, if you sew enough, you can figure out how to alter a pattern and change it however you want.

I once saw a dress I wanted for a wedding I was going to, but it was about $150. I made a pattern for myself by using a book that told how to take measurements and make patterns,(sometimes I combine parts of patterns I bought) and got the fabric and made it for about $25 dollars… Success! No one knew I made it!

There is a certain satisfaction that comes from creating something yourself and you can’t always put a price on that. :thumbsup:


I’ve been debating the same thing recently. I get most of my clothes on clearance or at garage sales for just a few dollars (and only usually once a year) but I really want to learn how to sew. I already knit things up for the family and crochet, but I bought a few “simple” patterns for my daughter and am going to start with that.

The main thing influencing my decision is the styles. I seldom see stuff that I actually like (and that’s modest) even at expensive prices. Being able to sew what I want to wear and sew clothing for my family would simplify things. I’m going to start with patterns for my daughter so that I don’t waste as much material on mistakes at first.

I also found some dress patterns from the 50s on ebay that I would love to try once I can really sew (if that ever really happens! I’m cautiously optimistic)!


I don’t sew, so take this with a grain of salt - but my Aunt does and often makes clothes/costumes/whatnot for us.

The problem is buying at retail, no matter what it is - clothing or fabric. If you can get sale fabric at say $1 to $4 a yard then great - you can probably save a lot. Don’t forget patterns, they can be costly, some are $1 but some are $14. The same holds true for buying clothing. You can save a lot through end of season sales or at discount stores. We adults don’t change much in a year, so if you can find styles you like on the clearance rack you’ll do fine.

The problem with sewing that I see is that people who invest time in sewing sometimes don’t want to go through all that trouble and use a fabric that is just so-so.

I do see a huge difference in the price of home decorating items, however. If you make your own curtains you can save a whole lot. Plus it’s rather easy to hide mistakes, and easier to sew a simple curtain. Actually I am recalling that I did just that - sew a roman shade. Straight stitching on all four sides and a row of loops up the middle. I think it was about $6 in the end!


I do sew a lot of my clothes but there are some big things to consider. I didn’t read all the posts, so apologies if I’m repeating something.

Supplies are so expensive and to make anything but the most simple garment you really are going to need more than some pins and scissors. Notions are also very costly. The third thing I find with making clothes on a budget is that it takes time (as in years)… you may find a nice pattern that you want to make for $1, but no fabric, you may find fabric for it at a decent price the next year or the year after that. I don’t live close to the fabric store so I’m not able to frequently search through the sale table, you may have greater access to such sales. Myself, and most people I know that sew don’t simply head to the store, pick up what they need and complete a project. More often you dig through your fabric stash, your button box, your trim box, and your patterns and make something work… but in order to have that ability you need a fabric stash, button box, trim box etc…

I’m not saying this to discourage you from learning, I think it is a wonderful skill and very relaxing… just that if you are doing it out of a need to live frugally…it may not help you much in the long run. Making clothes beautiful with trim and ruffles and buttons and all manner of details costs a lot of money. Hope this helps!


I taught myself to sew on a sewing machine when I first got married. I had been sewing by hand since I was about 9 years old, making doll clothes mostly. But the first thing I bought after I got married (at 18 years old) was a very cheap sewing machine, I sewed some every day and taught myself to sew. My mother is a seamstress and both Grandma’s were also, so I learned a lot by watching them over the years, but they would never let me use their machines.
Anyway, it turned out to be the best thing ever. I enjoy sewing and over the years became very expert at it. I made all of my own clothes and all my children’s clothes, bedding & curtains for many, many years. We have 7 kids, so I saved a bundle. My kids were the best dressed in school. We were as poor as church mice, but no one ever knew it from how the kids were dressed.
And after about ten years, I began sewing for the public, making money from home and being able to be a stay-at-home mom.
I advise you to go ahead with your plans, Sure materials and notions can be expensive, but learn to shop sales and discount stores, there are a few good places online also. Hope you enjoy it as much as I have. Carol


Thanks for your comments, everyone! This really helps.

I’ll probably start making a few items here and there to teach myself ad test the waters, so to speak, and decide from there.


Do you have a pattern that you used? I’ve been wanting to make some curtains FOREVER and I’d love any easy ideas/tips!!! :smiley:

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