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Nov 27, 2013

Are Home Sewers Unusually Cheap?



Friends, a few weeks ago I found myself engaged in conversation with a prominent professional member of the sewing community.

We were chatting about this and that, and the topic of shopping for fabric in the Garment District came up, specifically with regard to the relative benefits (and costs) of buying high-end fabric, and this person opined, based on decades-long interaction with countless sewing hobbyists, that home sewers are, on the whole, cheap.

I was a little taken aback, not so much by the content of the comment, as with the sense of total authority with which it was delivered.  This was not a sewing newbie who'd had one bad experience wrestling over bolt ends at Metro Textiles.

I've recounted the story to a few people since, and their reaction has been...total agreement!  In the main, we sewers are a bunch of tightwads.

Now I know that once upon a time, most home sewers were women contributing to the family economy by sewing their own -- and often the rest of their family's -- wardrobe.  Decades ago, you could save a great deal of money sewing your clothes, as ready-to-wear was more expensive relative to what other things cost, and many more women were working in the home.  There was no Forever 21, no Walmart, and obviously no eBay.

Today, American retail is totally promotion-based.  We've grown used to (addicted to?) getting discounts on nearly everything, even when we know that the original price is a total fiction: nobody pays it.  Today, most Americans don't even get out of bed for less than 30% off.



If you buy RTW clothes, you only have one opportunity to save money: at the point of purchase.  If you sew, however, you can save in countless ways: by buying notions in bulk, by shopping online for refurbished sewing equipment, by digging through the bargain bins at your local fabric outlet, by holding out for the big sales at Jo-Ann Fabric or the Big Four pattern company websites, etc..  (Has anyone in the contiguous United States ever paid list price for an in-print Vogue pattern?)



So if we sewers can be considered cheap, we also live in a world where bargain hunting is a national sport.  Watch your local TV news this coming Friday: it will be saturated with stories about post-Thanksgiving Day bargains.  Journalism at its finest!



Do I consider myself cheap?  I wouldn't use that word exactly (though you might), but as someone who doesn't have a huge cash flow, I'm accustomed to either finding a discount (a sale, a thrift store, or eBay) or doing without. There are a few exceptions but not many.  When I started sewing, I loved hunting for $2/yd. fabric deals in some of those Garment District fabric "dives."  There were real gems to be found (and an awful lot of gross stuff too).

Readers, where do you stand on this issue?

1) Do you think home sewers often tend to be cheap?

2) Are you the exception to the rule or the quintessence of it?

3) Are there some things you will always splurge on and others where you refuse to pay even a dollar more than you have to?

Jump in!

116 comments:

  1. I think there are sewists who do sew to be frugal and can be quite cheap. Others are looking for a custom fit, a custom garment, a way to bypass slave labor in sewing factories, as a pleasurable pastime, and so on. There are a whole host of reasons to sew and most sewists I know fall into several of those categories.

    I might resemble the frugal sewist at times. Here is the thing with garment sewing, you can't try it on before you sew. We do pin fittings, we make muslins, but still, we have to buy fabric and patterns and notions and hope that the end result is wearable. The less I put into materials, the less I lose when the garment doesn't work. It's a constant balance of time and money versus result.

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    1. That's me too--I don't like spending a lot of money on something I'm not sure is going to fit/work in the end. I'd rather stay on the low end of the spectrum, especially on patterns I've not made before, or only made a time or two. My end price ends up being close to RTW when I do this, actually. Higher end fabric ends up costing much much more than RTW for me, and I just can't justify it, since I have small children and my sewing time is limited. I don't always have the time or patience for a muslin (and the expense of more fabric/thread!).

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    2. I'm REALLY happy that you mentioned that some of us are looking for a way to bypass slave (or inequitable) labour in sewing factories. I felt like I was alone in this and that I was a crazy hippy (I am a crazy hippy, but at least it's not ONLY cause of this, the fermenting mead in the closet, the vegan cheese drying in the kitchen, and the 40 or so mason jars of food that I home canned this weekend might be more incriminating evidence).

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    3. I used to feel this way - even the muslin at jo's is $3 a yard and not wide. Peter and this blg realy woke me up to the solution I prefer - I muslin in old sheeting from the thrift store and choose nice fabric that I love in the 5 to 12 dollar range usually from an online source for a final garmet. I dont sew for sewings sake but to get clothes I love. I might be somewhat frugal because I'm low income but I'm not cheep in the way that I get excited just because something is inexpensive, it has to be something that I would have saved up to get anyway.

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  2. Talk to some quilters, too. Some of them won't pay less than $15 / yd on fabric!

    But I do think a lot of the attitude comes from the thought we *should* be saving money sewing a garment over RTW. Which, these days is just false. It's a whole lot better garment than a wal mart special that's for sure.

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  3. Cheap! Cheap! Cheap! Even at bargain basement prices, home sewing is more expensive than disposable ready-to-wear garments. The Lack of funds usually dictates my purchases but even when I'm feeling flush I think $5 per yard is a splurge. I guess I am the very definition of a "home sewer."

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    1. I think the key thing in what you just mentioned is that home sewing is more expansive than ready-to-wear. I make a living sewing costume and I try my best to find the fabric I need at the best price.

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    2. To me (on a very limited income) RTW disposible clothing is much more expensive than what I can make. Even if I REALLY splurge and spend $16/yd on say shirting fabric...that's less than $50 for a completed high quality shirt- that actually fits! That $50 shirt will easily outlast 2 - $25 shirts or 3 - $17 shirts...none of which would come close to fitting me. Disposible clothing is expensive to me.

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  4. I wish I was able to be cheap(er), but where I live (in Estonia, that is in Eastern-Europe) we don't have discounts as big as you have in the US. The other thing is the country I live in, is so small, that there are basically 1-2 cheapish fabric chain stores and the other few are more closer to high-end quality and therefore have higher prices.

    I'm not confident enough seamstress to buy random cotton for 17$ per metre, which means I tend to look for cheaper options. I never splurge on notions and my sewing machine and serger are second hand. I do enjoy buying above average expensive fabric once in a while (this usually involves making a muslin from a fabric I've bought from a charity shop). But I only do that when I have a very concrete vision in my head and when I'm almost sure everything will work out. It's just that I don't dare experimenting with costly materials.

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    1. Another Eastern-European here - I'm from Serbia. We also lack some serious discounts here and one can chose to buy either from the cheap fabric stores or from the highly expensive ones.
      Also, the living standard over here is generally low, so the local sewists lean towards the cheaper stores, including me.

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  5. A couple of factors come into play for me. If I want instant gratification, then JoAnns is my only option. I'll also go there (always with coupons in hand or on my phone) when I'm making a first pass at a pattern or making a staple like a t-shirt. If I'm looking for a better outcome, then I'll shop online.

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  6. For Germany I would also say: cheap, cheap, cheap. Most home sewists are female and where a male hobby is allowed to cost money a female one in most cases is not. And even more if he earns the money and she is "only" taking care of the kids.

    Myself I am one of the exceptions. At least now, because I have enough money at the moment. Nor rich, but enough to buy the fabric I like.

    Though I still like bargains, but on a different scale. Usually I have a project in mind and go searching for the fabric. so I normally start at the cheaper shops and make my way up the price scale. If I get good quality and that what I like for a cheap price... fine. If not... I have a budget per garment and according to that I will make my choice. (Maybe I should mention that I know a lot of interesting fabric sources, mostly in Paris. So finding the right fabric is not always costly.)
    And I never spend more money than I have. Easy.

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  7. Hey Peter first time on your blog, been following your sewing adventures and it brought me back to sewing again after many years away. I do alot of alterations to RTW, and I do make my own clothes, for the most part I'm fully stocked with fabric, thread, notions, even wool. It is cheaper in the long run to make your own clothes especially if you can find great fabric very cheap. Example, stretch denim 2 pieces for 10 bucks enough to make a pair of jeans and a vest and it is competitive with the prices at walmart, but not thrift stores, but about the same. I do have a questions for you personally, how many vintage machines do you own, and what kind do you have? I just got into the vintage machine things and have been collection and using them. Happy Thanksgiving - Corey

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    1. I think I have about a dozen: two Singer 66's (one's a treadle), four featherweights, a Singer 201, a Singer 15-91, an Elna Lotus, an 80's-era Brother, an 80's era Viking, a Bernina 930, a Kenmore 158.1040, a Kenmore 158.141, a Kenmore 158.330 -- I think that's it.

      You can see photos of everything I own (or used to own) here:

      http://www.pinterest.com/peterlappin/sewing-machines-i-ve-owned/

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    2. Thanks, I have a 99k, 2 15-91's, 2 301a, 401a on the singer side, pfaff 332 love machine great for making jeans, pfaff 130 love this machine 2, 2 modern kenmore machnicals made by janome 1 computized kenmore, bernina 730 record, 2 janome sergers 1 babylock serger i use to bang most things out with ... look at your blogs and some of the patterns you used, i loved the "made in japan pattern book" and pea coat you made

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  8. I do think a lot of home sewers are cheap. Sometimes I really question folks on blogs who are unwilling to spend more than $2 a yard for fabric. But maybe they have secret RTW clothing addictions? I don't know. But it does sure seem odd to me the frugality of some folks.

    I enjoy a good $2 yard of fabric, but I also don't make myself feel guilty when I find some really lovely $15 a yard fabric.

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  9. I sew mostly to have clothes that actually fit, which I can't get in RTW. In saying that, I love finding a bargain but if I don't find cheap fabric I'm wanting for a particular garment then I don't mind paying higher prices. In NZ, we have much more limited choices for clothing and fabric, hence it is more expensive than the US, but it's all relative I suppose. The cheapest fabrics I can find are around $5/m

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  10. 1) The ones I know, yes. They would balk at paying twelve dollars per yard for shirting fabric.

    2) I bought my scissors, rotarry cutter, self-healing mat, and other basic notions at Jo-Ann. Rarely do I pay full price for needles or notions.

    3) I rarely scrimp on fabric. I'd rather make fewer projects with nice material than more with mediocre.

    BTW, bravo on the peacoat!

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  11. These things are always purchased at discount: Gingher scissors, rotary cutters/blades, run-of-the-mill notions (I use tons of Steam a Seam Lite on knits and zippers), Bernina feet, and Big Four Patterns.

    If I love the fabric, I will spring for it, unless it's over $60/yard. Above that price, I will take a breath, but will spring for it if it is fabulous in form and color, it makes my heart thump, and it is absolutely perfect for a specific project.

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  12. Egad - I gasped at this post title. It is so UNSAVORY! I don't know if sewists, in general, are cheap but I know I sure as hell am not. Having said this, I do love a bargain on anything - but I know when I'm buying something good at a good price, vs buying something cheap at a cheap price. I do not do the latter. I can understand how someone would balk at spending more to make a garment than to purchase it - even a "nicely made" purchased item that fits well - but that's the way the cookie crumbles. The more the item would cost in the store (tailored things), the more the home sewist is apt to save on the garment (not on time, natch). Which is all the more reason to buy the best fabric on that garment one can afford!

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  13. I am frugal, which began out of financial necessity. But, I always adored luxurious fabrics, and you can find them in charity shops (near Montreal), as well as notions and vintage and/or new patterns. This way you can look like a million dollars, and give back at the same time, as the charity shop money goes straight into projects. Cathie, in Quebec.

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  14. i wouldn't consider myself cheap, just frugal. cash flow in my household is not particularly abundant, but i'm more than happy to pay what fabric is worth. i do frequent a dive bargain fabric store before hitting up the nicer fabric store in search of those amazingly priced gems. however, i won't buy fabric just because it's inexpensive or on sale. if i'm investing my time i'd like the final product to be worth it. speaking about joann's fabric store, they're flat out over-priced. i can buy silks for what they price their poly charmeuse, so i'll only buy there if i have to, and always armed with a coupon or two.

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    1. I agree about Joann's being overpriced in general. Plus, Joann appears to rig the sales so that you have a hard time using the coupons for fabrics. I priced fabric the day before a sale, came in armed with my 50% off coupon the next day, ready to buy. As the cut was labeled and priced, I was informed it was now "on sale" and I could not use my coupon, which would saved me a lot more than the "sale" price. I dragged a manager to the shelf, pointed out to him there was no "sale' sign in front of my fabric, and I insisted the store honor my 50 % off coupon. Which the manager did. Still, the experience makes me leery of dealing with that store. Plus, the quality of the bottomweights I've tried so far is "eh"; started looking shabby after only a few washings.

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    2. I had the exact experience with the coupon at JA's- only the employees at my store are very ignorant and would not honor the coupon which is of course actual fraud - not just bad customer service.

      Bought some 100% wool last weekend. $25.99 reg price $9.99 on sale. Got it home and did a burn test - NO WOOL involved. Poly/ rayon is my best guess. Going to try to return this weekend...I won't hold my breath!

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  15. I am totally the opposite. I have no problem spending $$ on materials for a project, even if it doesn't work out. I'm currently sewing a vintage vogue coat pattern - that may or may not be successful (I'm struggling with it a bit). I tallied the materials I've bought for this coat and everything together is over $200. But that's nothing compared to high-quality RTW coat.

    I'm insanely frugal in all other aspects of my life, but I have no problem buying $30-40 a yard fabric for a serious project.

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  16. I still consider myself heavily in the learning basket - even though I've been sewing three years. So while I do buy plush fabrics like pure silk and wool crepe, I haven't yet sewn many garments up in them - yet.
    I like the search for a bargain, and finding great natural fibres for cheap. In Aus we pay a lot for everything so finding great prices on fabric AND getting it shipped from overseas can be quite the thrillseeking adventure ;-P
    So I guess I am a tightwad right now - and will be for the foreseeable future. But then, I like a good bargain.

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  17. I'm not cheap, I'm frugal. But anyone calculating how much money I've spent on patterns and fabric wouldn't say cheap. I only buy good quality fabric now. I use the less expensive fabric for muslins. It all has its place.

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  18. I started sewing a few years ago because I was tired of $300 polyester dresses made in China that don't even fit because I am large busted but not large everywhere else. My fabric stash has fabrics ranging from a $7 for 5 meters piece of wool found at a thrift shop to $100/meter designer fabrics bought during my trip to Italy and ordered from tessuti fabrics online. I'm not rich by any means not even close but I love the fact that I can make a gorgeous dress made out of in season Roberto cavalli silk for yeah sure $240 just for the fabric but what would it cost in the store? I make an aplpaca/wool/cashmere (no synthetics) jacket lined in silk for about $150 or line my $7 thrift shop wool jacket in 100% silk for less than $100 or I can buy it for $300+in a store and it probably won't fit me properly and will probably still be lined in polyester. I did balk at the $189 euro/meter wool tweed I saw in a window in Florence though because it looked like something I could buy here for less than $100/meter but if it was superb and special I might have considered it :) now that I sew I can drape myself in silk and alpaca and have never gotten so many compliments on my clothing that people don't believe I made myself.

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  19. I consider my time a cost in sewing and it makes no sense to spend valuable time on 'cheap' fabric. That being said, I like to look for good value--classic, natural fiber fabrics tend to last longer than many blends. I scour thrift stores for sewing notions and tools, as well as looking for a great fabric find (woven cashmere, silks, wools, etc.). When I think of cheap, I think of a sewist who has not put the time into pressing, measuring or sewing accurately.

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    1. I agree. Good fabric looks and wears better. Nothing is as disappointing as having a perfectly fitting and sewn garment look not right and not wear well because the fabric was substandard.
      You'll find me hunting through the shelves in the back of the store, looking under tables for forgotten bolts of fabric and hunting in thrift shops for discarded silk and leather or suede that can be repurposed.

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  20. I'm with Kline on this one -- I am not cheap -- If I am going to put my time in (which is valuable I think -- I work full time plus do quite a bit of pro bono work) -- I am going for a masterpiece. Yes, essentially many garments don't work out but I can make a garment that would cost hundreds in the store -- and more importantly, fit me like a glove -- for a fit like that --- priceless! (P.S. I have a lot of wadders too, sadly, but I don't use my very expensive fabric without a muslin).

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  21. Since I have champagne taste and a beer budget, I do quite a bit of shopping at JoAnn's for patterns and notions. I also frequent the two independent stores that carry the better quality fabrics. The independents can't compete with JoAnn's on price, but they do have sales about 3-4 times a year, so that is when I can purchase the really nice stuff!

    However, as a prime example of pennywise and dollar foolish, I see people go nuts when JoAnn's has their awful flannel on sale! In fact a couple of years ago when the Black Friday price was $0.99/yard, one lady had about 2 dozen bolts in her cart!!! I have bought some of their flannel to make pjs for my grandkids because they liked the prints, but I also know they outgrow them quickly. I would not use the stuff for adult pjs.

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  22. If I weren't "cheap" my fabric hoard would swallow me whole. Joanns is sneaky with their pricing. If you have a sale on a fairly regular basis, then it's not a true sale. It's the regular price. Same thing for the constant round of coupons. And honestly, considering how few of their fabrics are of decent quality or fabric content, I think shoppers are justified in wanting to pay as little as possible for what stores like Joanns have to offer. possible.

    That being said, as constrained as I am by my budget, I am willing to pay a decent price for something I know to be of good quality when I have a project in mind. And I'm willing to hustle on down to wherever offers a deal in my face.

    At the end of the day, sewing is my hobby and I try to make my hobby very little of my budget, albeit unsuccessfully lol

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  23. I don't consider myself cheap, I pay more for my fabric choices, I want to sew with quality. Likewise I want a good sewing machine, my first machine was less than desired, it was always an adventure to use and not good results. I do watch my dollars on pattern sales, take advantage of sales on notions, thread, zippers, etc.

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  24. I'll spend $$ on fabric to get good quality. I've been burned by $2 fabric and won't buy it unless I intend to use it for muslin. When it comes to patterns, however, I've been spoiled by the pattern sales and can't think of paying full price for one of the big four. When I first started sewing and before I knew about pattern sales, I paid full price for one of the big four.

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  25. I hate shopping at Joanne's. I love a bargain, but poor quality fabric is never a bargain. I will buy notions there, if I can get there on a weekday when it's not a zoo. When I made a lot of costumes, I shopped for fabric in the garment district in downtown LA, where there are actual close outs and you can get good stuff for a good price. I also shopped places like Jessica McClintock's outlet, where they had a lot of bolt ends and good fabrics for really good prices. For quilting, I only buy certain manufacturers-- if you're making an heirloom, you need to start with fabric that won't shrink or fade.

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  26. I am at both ends. At Jo-ann's I am cheap as cheap and will always plan my buys to make sure I don't pay full price. But then when it comes to indie sewing patterns I'm always forking over 10-20 bucks per pattern. And when it comes to fabric, I rarely pay less than 10 bucks a yard as I feel my time is worthy of higher quality fabrics.

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  27. Cheap means spending the least amount of money regardless of quality. I will buy cheap fabric for a costume that would only be worn once or for a muslin, but I prefer to be frugal. Frugal means to get the most bang for your buck.

    When I started sewing it was possible to buy decent fabric very inexpensively, I could whip out outfits for my daughters for a quarter of what they cost in RTW. In addition, my clothes were cuter!

    By the time my son was born, 10 years later that wasn't true any more. Cheap clothes from overseas and clearance sales were readily available, I decided that it wasn't worth my time to make cheap things. I could buy well made clothes 2nd hand for less than the cost of the fabric and findings.
    I started doing home dec sewing and of course I sewed costumes.

    When you do historical re-enactment, making your own clothes and accessories you definitely save money. I like searching for the perfect fabric at a bargain price, but if you factor in my time spent hunting it really has to count as a hobby, this pursuit of the perfect fabric at the perfect price.
    Now I sew for pleasure and fit. I still like a bargain, but overall I am aiming to make quality.

    I made the Folkwear Edwardian wedding dress from fabric and lace that I bought at the Jessica McClintock outlet . I had seen a dress for five hundred dollars (back then a month's wages) that I loved. At the Gunnysack outlet, I got lace for a dollar a yard, fabric for two dollars and made my dress for around $75 but it took me 6 weeks. Is that cheap or frugal or just crazy?
    regards,
    Theresa

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  28. I'm cheap when I have to be, but I don't like it because I know someone, somewhere in the world is paying for me being cheap, and it is usually that they are paying for it by working in terrible, poor conditions. So when I sew or knit, I try my hardest to make garments from quality materials that will last. Than I just have to cross my fingers that I'll actually like it and wear it and it was all worth it.
    But I feel like I'm in the minority. Most of the ladies at my S&B are gaga over bargains and make stuff from cheap acrylic yarn just to be making something.

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  29. Hold the presses! I take offence to anyone calling me cheap when it comes to sewing. And as far as I'm concerned people who sew are not cheap. Last year I did the eye opening tally of what each garment cost me to make. Never mind the cost of the sewing machine, presser foots, needles, patterns and notions. Never mind the time. Good grief $2.00 a yard for fabric, I never heard or seen that around here. And I'm weary of picking up "cheap" fabric. I'm so sick and tired of fabric stores trying to pass off mystery fabrics without labels that don't even last a pre-shrink before it makes it to the cutting table just because it doesn't have a content label. I sew for fit and quality, period. These two things I am unable to find in RTW at the mall. If I wanted cheap, I would buy RTW.

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    1. "If I wanted cheap [cheap-looking, and ill-fitting], I would buy RTW."

      Exactly.

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    2. totally agree... ones I bought a really expensive RTW T-shirt, after washing it ones it shrank and completely lost it model, I never wore it again. making my own T-shirts is not cheaper then RTW but they fit much better and last so much longer,btw nobody ever said to my they make me look cheap...

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    3. Ah, but where can I purchase good quality t-shirt fabric? I cannot find it at Joann's or Hancock in my town. I don't know what to look for online, because I'm...ignorant. sigh

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  30. Interesting post! I'd say yes, neither, and I splurge on zippers always and hate to pay a lot for lining, but am usually glad when I do.

    I think that everyone has a different idea of what "expensive" is. When I started sewing, I didn't really want to spend more than $10/yd. But as I've become more skilled and experienced, I want fabric that reflects how much time and effort I put into a garment. So, that has creeped up and up. That said, I love when I get a great deal on something beautiful!

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  31. "(Has anyone in the contiguous United States ever paid list price for an in-print Vogue pattern?)"

    I have. The following week when Vogue offered the same pattern on sale I wrote them, but they didn't get back to me. So guess who almost never buys Vogue patterns now? (Commercial patterns are rip-off in any event.)

    I am not cheap. I try not to use materials that are too expensive or delicate for my skill level, but no polyester fabric for me, no street findings. I like quality fabric whose origin is known to me. I also don't skimp on tools and notions.

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  32. I don't mind spending to get what I want - I love luxurious fabrics, but I buy very little these days because I have plenty of fabric. For threads and notions, I tend to buy online. I can't remember the last time I was in JoAnn's! I also like to keep an eye on Fabric Mart emails for bargains. Every now and then I see a few fabrics I like and the prices are thrillingly LOW. :-D

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  33. Wow, you set off a fire storm. It seems like common sense to wait for sales and coupons at JoAnns, why pay full price? As for fabric, if I'm going to invest my time, I'm also going to invest my money and buy good fabric. I sew to have clothing which is unique and fits my style and body type. I take classes and buy lots of books. If I was cheap, I'd have to find a cheaper hobby!

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  34. I just love fabric and sewing so much that I don't mind spending money on supplies. For me sewing is a major obsession, and since it's such a productive hobby, I don't mind splashing out on beautiful fabrics that are $20-$30 per metre. Also, I live in New Zealand where well-made RTW clothing is ridiculously expensive. So no matter what I spend on my lovely fabrics, my garments are always half the price of the equivalent at the shops. Plus, I'm learning in the process, as well as having tons of fun. Win win win!

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  35. When I first started sewing it was the dollar bin all the way! (due to countless wadders!) Now that I know how to sew for myself (fitting and such) I will splurge on the wardrobe basics. The Trendy stuff however, I'll go for the bargin! I'll never pay full price for a big 4 pattern. :-)

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  36. Interesting question. I do not buy fabric at Joann's. I will buy notions there and that's it. I do try to be thoughtful about what I am making. How many clothes/quilts/ crafty items does a person need after all? I do put a limit on what I am willing to spend on an item though. I like to buy quality ,it doesn't have to be best quality. I also like to think about where materials are from and the environmental and societal impacts they may have.

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  37. I'm not cheap. The word cheap to me seems to imply bad value--something purchased that will fall apart as soon as you get home with it. I started sewing for a lot of reasons; the idea that I'd save a lot of money, at least right away, wasn't one of them. What matters to me is value. And by that I mean, I want the best I can afford, but I try not to buy things I don't need, and I try to take care of what I have and make it last. One of the enduring aggravations in my life is the lack of decent fabrics available to me locally. I don't mind paying more for quality. My goal is to buy less but buy better.

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    1. Amen, sister. I have to drive about 45 miles before I get to a real fabric store.

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  38. Well I watch out for the quality of the fabric, but if JoAnn’s wants to sell me a tool or notion for 40-50-60% off who am I to argue. Not much in the way of fabulous garment fabric in the Raleigh area but there sure are a lot of really nice quilt shops and a few decorator outlets.

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  39. Peter, I think that most home sewists don't realize that you can save money (really big bucks) by sewing more expensive items. That's mostly what I sew. I wouldn't consider sewing on a cheap fabric, and although I haunt the discount box fabric stores, it may be for a look or some novelty item, certainly not anything that's going to be a mainstay in my wardrobe.

    What I mean that most folks don't realize how much they save by sewing the more expensive fabrics is that RTW is inching every so slowly into that fast-fashion/cheap-fashion mold and the workmanship and components are just as cheap as the box discount stuff. I love a bargain as much as the next gal/guy, but when I spend $250 or $300 on an outfit (jacket/suit/coat or other major garment) and come away with a garment that easily could retail in the thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars, that's pretty cheap. Then considering that it will be an active part of my wardrobe for 10 years - suddenly $300 for 10 years @ $30/year looks pretty damn reasonable, plus it's made from this fabulous fabric and assembled well, so it doesn't fall apart.

    Not to be too windy - but here's an example, I had on my "winter" leggings (they're a little thicker and warmer), and I caught the dang leg part on a corner of my car door and stretched the heck out of it. I automatically figured there would be a hole in it and that would be the end of my pants, cause that's what happens with cheap/fast fashion stuff. Got inside the house (after a lot of expletive deleted's) and lo and behold, not only were the dang pants whole, but they weren't stretched out of shape and have them on my toasty little bod as we speak.

    That's the sort of quality that I'm used to in my clothes and these pants will last for at the minimum 5 years (but they are black and they are warm and probably more.) That's what folks don't realize or put together, mostly cause it's over a long period of time - it's not in the "now".

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  40. Me again. BTW You can buy a “quality” quilting cotton at a “full price” shop and it can be just as poor as what you get at JoAnn’s. (And some of JoAnn’s can be pretty nice if you pick very carefully.) Just because it says Moda or such on the selvage doesn’t mean it’s top quality. Just this week I had to deal with a 110” wide (on the bolt) Moda that shrunk to 103” wide….across the grain, not even the length. Yikes! And thinking about the “cheap” shot even more…..I sew/quilt with many people who can’t afford to go beyond JoAnn/Hancock/Walmart except for something really special. Does this make them tightwads/cheap? Should they not enjoy crafting/sewing/quilting/doll making just because they can’t afford the best? (I also know ladies who spend many hundreds on fabric each year. God bless them. They keep the stores in business.) In the end, it’s all in the enjoyment. Seems to me this is where the value lies. :-)

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  41. There's nothing I can add to what's already been said.
    But I'd like some context.
    I'd like to know what the person who made the comment meant by it.
    Did they mean home sewists should be spending more money for material?
    That they won't pay a fair price for quality goods?
    That they sew out of sheer frugality?
    That they don't know the difference between high and low quality material?


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    1. Good questions. People in the businesses of selling often belittle the customers who don't spend bigtime. This is the store snobbery that tries to make cosmetics, perfume, and fine fabric the only acceptable choice. There are times when a fabric does not need to last forever.

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  42. Your post certainly offered food for thought. I guess I would call myself thrifty. I long for the days when quality fabric was priced more reasonably, but I wasn't able to afford it even back then. I don't mind purchasing $24.99 quality as long as I have a 50% coupon, but still - just call me thrifty.

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  43. Used to be cheap and now, no. Never. I love the good stuff way too much. Doesn't mean I would pass up a good deal, but places like Joann just make me sad. Customer service sucks, the only "culture" there is cheap and I want to be apart of a culture that is fabulous, in the know and isn't just cheap. I thought it was just a Utah thing - the cheap part - but I guess not. Just the other day, I was at a bargain fabric store where the customer was remarking that the price of fabric these days was astronomical and she was complaining because she was having to pay $4 a yard for 60" wide cotton broadcloth....Yikes.

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  44. I had never thought of myself as being cheap! But I do love beautifully crafted clothing and bargains...so maybe I am! If I can't find what I want in RTW on sale at a good price, I make my own with quality fabric. The only difference is that I think I enjoy wearing my own creations more because I am so pleased to have made something so unique and so perfect for me.

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  45. 1) I think home sewers tend to be cheap though I don't have any data to back this up :)

    2) Price is low on my list of considerations. High quality and ethical (preferably local) production are of far greater importance. But whether it's fabric, haberdashery or equipment it's really hard to tick all those boxes and I generally have to compromise on something. I never buy fabric that does not state the composition and country of origin. I do have budget constraints but manage those through careful planning and only making garments that I really need.

    3) Vogue etc patterns are about the only thing I don't pay full price for - I wait for my local store's twice-yearly $5 sale.

    Spud.

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  46. I don't think home sewists are any more cheap than the rest of the nation. I used to be extremely cheap when it came to buying clothing, but at this point I spend more money on fabric than I ever used to on RTW clothes. If anything I think sewing has made me less cheap because I appreciate the value of something more when I make it myself. I don't sew to save money. I sew because I enjoy the process, and I love the power I can have over my wardrobe to make it exactly the way I like it.
    That being said, will I ever pay $25 for a Vogue pattern when I can wait to get it for $3 at the next sale.... Uhh NO! Will I ever waltz into Joann without a 40% off coupon if I want to stock up on muslin? Yeah right! No one likes paying more than they have to for an item. I don't think that is unreasonable.
    PS-- Peter, I know you're on the Mood sewing network and all, but don't hate on Metro Textiles.... That place is amazing.

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  47. One of the main reasons I sew is because I don't like wearing man made fibres, which is the norm in RTW. Sewing cotton, linen, wool and silk is always going to be more expensive than sewing synthetics. But, sewing clothes made from these fibres is generally cheaper than buying (not always, though). Does that make me cheap or profligate? I don't know, you be the judge!

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  48. I'm not cheap. I pay for the quality and sew only what I need - not what I want. But I love the fact that my clothes are quality fabric, well sewn, and fit properly. Here in New Zealand we get beautiful merino and wools but I am happy to splurge for silk too.

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  49. I'm in the middle a bit here. Sometimes I'm a total cheapskate, especially if I'm making something for the first time and I'm making a wearable muslin, or children's costumes that will be worn once or twice. I love to get a bargain and have places where I know I can get good quality supplies and a reasonable cost. However I support my local fabric store, which is a bit pricy, but they have lots of beautiful fabrics and will order things in especially for me. It's a balance, I would rather have beautiful well made clothes and am increasingly drawn to better quality fabrics. I love sewing and want to stand against throw away culture so I do try to make classic items that will last. I love charity shopping though, as long as I can get good quality clothes and fabrics.

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  50. I don't know if I would say I am cheap, but I would call myself a bargain hunter. For example, a while ago I was looking for some guipure lace in the LA garment district. I walked to several different stores to check on the stock and the prices. The prices ranged from $18/yd to $50/yd. Some stores were selling the same fabric at as much as a $20 difference per yard. I don't think $20/yd is cheap to begin with, but why pay double? Even though I know if I went to a higher end store (like Mood or an online shop) I would easily be paying $50-100/yd? I don't think I was being cheap, but I did do my best to look for a good bargain. I think the key is that sewing people know the value of things. I think if you sew long enough you learn to recognize quality and what that sort of quality is worth. Which makes finding a bargain all the more exciting.

    And, no, I don't pay full price for Vogue patterns either. I know they can be regularly found with a $4 price tag, so that is what I pay for them. I just have to be patient.

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  51. Before sewing, i shopped a lot which sprouted a big hole in my pockets. I really like clothes. I started sewing as a way to stop consuming so much Slave Labour garbage. After the textile mills in bangladesh collapsed, I challenged myself to not purchase any new clothes but rather plagiarize said article that piqued my interest. I suppose it's frugality that inspired me to start, but I also want to be sure none of my clothes were produced by oppressive means.

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  52. If I can get a quality fabric at a discount price, I will. If I can only get a cheap fabric for the same price, I won't. I value my time far too much to spend it sewing rubbish fabric. I want the clothes I make to last, and I want to be utterly delighted every time I put them on. I've invested time in cheap fabrics before and it's been nothing but heart ache. Case in point - I just paid $85 for a 1.6m length of floral chintz, marked down from $130m, so that's $8m off. I LOVE IT. I am going to cover a lampframe with it and that is a sh!t of a job so no way am I wasting time on cheap fabric :)

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  53. absolutely I'm thrifty as I sew from a long hoarded stash when fabric quality was better and I found at store closings and sales. I'm not above thrifting sheets for muslins so I don't waste my better yardage or high quality cotton sheets from my mother's estate. I don't know how to label myself as cheap though as I have many thousands of dollars in machines that embroider and fabulous thread collections and patterns. Cheap in that context of high end equipment is not a good description even if I pinch a penny tweaking the fit in patterns.Also if the fit is worked out or I want something special, I will buy without blinking an eye.

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  54. 1. I don't think home sewers are cheap. Regardless of what your tools and supplies cost the creativity, time and skill involved are not cheap.

    2. I tend to buy quality within my means. To me cheap means poor quality and that is something I would never consider. I shop around and if I really need good quality items I save for them.

    3. I will always buy good quality tools, but they don't have to be new. I try adapt patterns so I am not having to buy new ones all the time. Saying that they are addictive and I suppose I will pay full price if I really like them.

    Excuse the next bit but I am a sweary Scot. It kinda piss*d me off that a creative would be so snobish about 'home' sewers. Yes that label again *sigh* Maybe they could do a guest post to explain their view point?

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  55. I've started thinking about my sewing in price/wear, and from that perspective, it makes sense to me to pay a little extra for fabric. When I was first sewing, I bought random stuff that I scoured from clearance bins, but none of those garments lasted more than a couple of wears. Ay yi yi, so much time invested lost. But it's a balance. At the beginning, your hands have to learn how to make fabric work under the machine, so spending less on fabric is not a bad idea. Now that I know what I'm doing, I want my garments to show that. Anyone who has made a jacket or a coat can appreciate the utter sadness of it not working out...there's just too much work in it.

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  56. Is spending $500 on materials to recreate a Chanel jacket from what is probably the only remaining copy of a 1962 officially-license Chanel pattern cheap? Maybe if you consider that Chanel jackets off the rack are $5,000 ($1,000 on Ebay) and made-to-measure Chanel suit go for $55,000.

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  57. Oh most definitely. The majority do seem to be cheap. I was quite surprised when I started reading sewing blogs & forums at how much I spend in comparison to most other sewers. It's not that I want to spend that much. But I get overwhelmed trying to wad through the nasty stuff to find the gem in the cheap bin. Where as drop me in the lux Garment District stores, and I get weak in the knees even if I'm not so keen on the prices. So I usually end up buying less yardage of the expensive stuff rather than acres of the cheap stuff.

    I'm even one of those rare beast who've paid full price for the Vogue Designer Patterns when I was living in NYC. But that was because I didn't know about the cheap sources. Now I do wait for the pattern sales. I wouldn't knowingly pay extra for the same thing, but I'd most definitely pay extra for the better stuff!

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  58. No I don't think I am cheap. I began sewing because this is what my mother and grandmother did. It's in the blood. Since I spend so much time on a garment I like to use a quality fabric. I do watch for sales, especially for thread and assorted notions. I would never pay full price for a Vogue pattern but will for an independent pattern. I also knit and would never buy yarn from Walmart, I spend too much time on the garment to use poor quality yarn.

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  59. Quite a turnout on this one, Peter.

    Of course I'm trying to discern who the prominent professional is. My crystal ball is clouded...by an orange plaid!

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  60. I'm frugal by necessity and choice. I'm not good enough/experienced enough at sewing to get the lovely expensive stuff. So bargain bins, sales and thrift stores for me. I recently bought online some polartech fleece but it was either a 2nd run or heavily discounted. Likewise, when considering a major purchase such as my sewing machine, I waited for the Sears sales / coupons before buying my Kenmore.
    Yesterday I bought a Dritz Double Deluxe Dress form for $112 - 54% discount (amazon). Yes it was a good price, but I'm still freaking out inside about what I've done. Today the price has jumped up to $134. Waiting and watching worked well for me there.

    I have an aunt who makes beautiful quilts but she doesn't use expensive quilting fabrics. Her skill and love still show through the quilts tho.

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  61. 1) I honestly don’t know enough home sewers to say.

    2) I am a beginning sewer and I used to be SUPER-cheap when it came to selecting fabric because I didn’t trust myself to actually make a well-fitting garment that I would actually wear. Now that my skills are improving, I’m willing to spend more on materials. I still generally stick to less than $25 a yard though!

    3) I refuse to spend more on muslin fabric than I have to. (I always buy it online because it’s ridiculously overpriced in my local shop.)

    LOVE your blog!

    - Heather H.

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  62. I've been sewing for over 50 years. The fabric today just is not the same quality that I used to be able to buy just 10 to 15 years ago. Several years ago I used some in my stash to make some clothes. I just could not believe the difference. I had gotten used to crappy fabric!!! Now I refuse to buy the awful stuff that Joanns sells without a considerable coupon. I guess you could call that cheap.

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    1. I think that it's not just fabric, but RTW clothes have gotten crappy as well. I walk into major department stores and there is a definite thrift store feel to a lot of the new clothes.

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  63. I used to be cheap, out of necessity. Now I'm frugal. What I'm getting from this conversation is that people who sew are resourceful, can delay gratification, and are thoughtful planners, all while being creative.

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  64. I don't sew to save money but for the pleasure of being creative. I grow vegetables and I knit too. I like to be able to say I made, grew, knitted this. It's personal and unique and I have fun doing it. The value of the completed project is immeasurable.
    I tend not to buy very expensive materials, because I don't have the skill to use them. Saying that I think fabric and yarn are generally a lot more expensive in the UK. Even material at $10 a yard I would consider a bargain. I don't think I save on the price of ready to wear especially if you factor in the time.
    Your Pea coat is beautiful and would probably cost around $300 in a British store.

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  65. I spent a while thinking about this one and I would have to say that I do think that majority of sewers are frugal because they just aren’t confident enough in their skills yet. I used to be one of them when I was a newbie. But after many meters of junk fabric sewed up and then tossed in the bin I have finally gotten to the point where I feel confident enough that I want the more expensive fabric. My mom has always taught me that quality is more important than quantity and I have firmly embraced that especially given the glut of cheap clothing available. When I make a garment I look at it as an investment, not only in my closet but in my skills, my time and my image. I want that garment to look like it’s straight off some runway in Milan and tailored for my desired fit and I want it to last. I find that if I cheap out on the fabric then by the end of sewing it I am blasé about it and never wear it. Sure you can buy ponte de roma for $12/meter but it’s going to pill and look shabby in a year, so I buy the better stuff and one of my dresses looks brand new after 3 years of consistent wear. I think that people have forgotten that clothing should cost a lot of money and should last for a long time because they are slammed with throwaway clothing that costs next to nothing.

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  66. I have bought a lot of fabric on 30-40% off sales at Joann & Hancock. I think for me, it's a lack of confidence that I don't buy more expensive fabrics. At this point, I'm still learning about fitting and re-learning what lines are good for me, and right now, I would rather destroy the bargain stuff than the good stuff.

    I scrolled through the comments fast, and saw some comments about no one making remarks about what (traditional) men's hobbies, quilting or knitting costs. Why is that? I think garment sewers have not been diligent(?) about correcting the perception of sewing as a cheap hobby, that it's about striving to do better that RTW in fit and fabric.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

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    1. I forgot to point out, that if I were truly cheap, all that fabric would probably have been sewn up, not sitting in stacks in the closet.

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  67. SeamsterEast@aol.comNovember 28, 2013 at 3:52 PM

    I find I am shopping more and more for the better quality fabric. I sew for better looking clothes, not just better fit clothes. Still, I am a long ways from buying $28,50 a yard cotton shirting from Beckensteins on 39th Street, although god is it nice! 3 yards, plus buttons, plus thread, plus sizing makes for over ninety bucks in materials to start, no bobbins of thread wound yet.

    As far as the price of men's crafted hobbies goes by comparison, a guy can make oodles of good bookcases from cheap pine boards for low blucks, but a bookcase made of black walnut gets handed down to the grandkids. The difference is mostly a matter of going slowly. HOWEVER, very few men EVER buy $150 a square foot veneer to be glued down to a perfect kitchen table, grandkids or not.

    Are home sewists "cheap"? It seems to me many are, but they seem to take great pride in that. Perhaps that is part of the fun?

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  68. Ok, so there's a LOT of opinions on here. I think it's super relative. I think that comparing cheap to the expense of RTW is not a fair comparison. If we are talking about $18m for shirting and I need about 1,5m to make a men's dress shirt we are talking about $27 plus some interfacing, thread, and buttons.... max $35 for a good quality dress shirt that fits me and that I know was equitably produced at the assembly level (fabric is less clear). Find me a DECENT RTW shirt for less than $85.

    So when you compare this standard to the $2m example, many would say that a $35 shirt is very expensive when I could have got poly-cotton broadcloth for $2m. But on the other hand, when you're comparing similar style shirts and fabrics on the RTW market we're looking at $85 as a rock-bottom price.

    On the other hand, I do think it's safe to say that we are cheap in other areas. I hem all my pants, my friends pants, I replace zippers in backpacks, patch worn-out pants, etc. I have no problem with reducing, reusing, and recycling.

    The endgame is that I don't think there is a single answer to this question, but those are my two cents.

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  69. As someone who costumes, there is a fine line between "worth it to make it" and "might as well buy it." I will very rarely make mens trousers - there are so many options, so cheap, it's wasted labor unless I need something incredibly, incredibly specific. For women though, to get exactly what we want, vintage, in the right size (A typical scenario) - we're going to pay more for something that is sort of what we need/want than we would pay in materials, at least, to make exactly the right thing. So we make a lot. But we try really hard to make those dollars count.

    There are some fabrics that I will spend on, and some that I know are fine at $5/yard. I try to make the BETTER choice. JoAnn for "linen look" fabric, when for the same price I can get high quality, actual linen at my local high end store? WTF would I want polyester for, if I can get something better, and support a LOCAL business, at the same or extremely similar pricepoint?

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  70. It's interesting that no-one has commented on the time involved in sewing a garment. Multiply the hours by whatever the going rate is for your commercial skills, add that to the cost of a garment, and I imagine very few home sewists would then qualify as cheap.

    Personally, I love quality fabrics, but currently being a student, my purse is very lean. I do wait for the sales at the better fabric stores, and I buy online (oddly, even though I am all the way down here in the Antipodes, I can buy and have shipped here, quality fabrics,from the USA or UK, at a total price far cheaper than buying them locally. I guess this not only makes me cheap, but disloyal to the local industry. I also haunt some of the better charity stores, for suitable garments that I can cut up and recycle.

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  71. I'm not a cheap sewer - where I live in Australia, the fabric, patterns and notions are fairly expensive… but I try not to buy it online. That's because they're small, family run shops and I know that at least some of the money is going back into the community (plus I like going in and feeling the fabrics and asking questions!)

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    1. Katanya, a number of Australian fabric, and notions, yarn and thread shops are online, owned by Australians and include Australian products. The majority of internet purchases in Australia are domestic.

      That said, I find that I shop outside of Australia on occasion because I simply cannot find what I require to complete a particular project.

      Of course I scour the local op shops too. Not because I'm 'cheap' as such. I like Peter's term 'limited cash flow'. Also, I find it more relaxing to experiment with fabrics that are recycled/repurposed, and didn't cost the earth.

      Delete
  72. I'm cheap when it comes to patterns - I buy the big 4 patterns on sale and I pretty much only use the big 4 unless an independent pattern REALLY captures my imagination. But I am not cheap when it comes to fabric - I spend a goodly amount of money to buy good quality. My last purchase was a wool/cashmere blend when I visited Rome this month. It was a definite splurge at 55 euros per meter. I bought 3 meters. Totally worth it.

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  73. Reading through the comments, I think that basically that home sewers are cheap or not cheap, frugal and spendthrifts. People cannot be put in a generalized box. We all have many reasons to sew I am sorry that this gentleman put us homesewers in such a limited box. I have used many a Joann's coupon, and have spent a lot of money of top quality fabric. There are many reasons I sew, sometimes to save money, sometimes to create something beautiful, sometimes to relax in a place and do something that gives me joy. I dislike generalizations, people are really more complex than that. BTW I love your blog bought my first vintage sewing machine this week, a Singer 99K.

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  74. Not cheap, just thrifty. Why on earth would anyone pay full price for a Vogue pattern when you don't have to? And what would stores do with remnants if no one bought them? And what would jobbers do if no one wanted the left overs from designer manufacturing runs? People who sew spend plenty of money on everything from tools to make sewing better/easier to scissors sharpeners, to really good buttons, luxury linings, and other bits. Why grouse about our love of a 50% off bargain on Italian wool or that we buy only a half yard of that luxury fabric for a hat or vest or trim?
    I started sewing out of the remnant bins when I was young and super skinny and fashions were slim too. Without bargains, I wouldn't have had decent clothes. Sheesh!

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    1. Amen to jobber fabric! Fabric Depot is awash with them, but I've since learned they largely sell marked up Michael Levine. Boo! When the Hancock in town first opened they were awash in jobber fabric that they didn't know the value of. I miss those days.

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    2. Where does the jobber fabric go these days?

      Delete
  75. In my stash, I have roughly 4 yards of Italian silk dupioni that is, oh my, so luscious. I bought it through my awesome neighbor who teaches and makes custom wedding dresses and the like. Wholesale, years ago, it was $18 a yard. Ouch. I bought it to have my mom make me a jacket for horse shows. I burned out on showing, so it sat. Now I plan to use it to make an amazing Vogue Claire Shaeffer jacket (#8333), but I'm not ready yet.

    I have several other expensive hobbies, horses and bikes, so for me, sewing is my chill out and relax hobby. I am pretty decent at it, but I'm always trying new techniques and as such I'm timid about buying expensive fabrics for something that might not work.

    As my confidence grows and I can be sure I'll produce something awesome, yeah I'll spend more on fabric. However, the best way to succeed more, is to fail more, and the best way to fail more is to make failure cheap.

    The other problem is, I live in a big little town and all I have is chain stores. As such, it's been really hard to learn my charmeuse from my chiffons since those things aren't really called out on the bolts. So, until I can confidently tell my weaves and fibers apart, I'm hesitant to shop online and buy the wrong, spendy thing.

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  76. Does it make me cheap that I'm trying to avoid buying fabric at all now? I decided a few months ago that I needed to get rid of some of my stash and so far I've been pretty good. I try to only buy if I need lining etc for a project I'm actually working on. I don't seem to have made much of a dent in the fabric piles and boxes yet though.

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  77. If the fabric doesn't quite meet up to the vision of the finished garment, it may be a waste of time and money. But I'm the most frugal when I shop my stash.

    A lot of home sewists seem willing to brag about a cheap fabric, but less so when they paid full price. Maybe its in the culture. Or the risk of sounding snobbish to some of your audience. Also, hate to embarrass oneself when the fabric cost a bunch and the end result is borderline wadder.

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  78. I purchase the best quality materials I can afford for the project in mind. I live in Flyover Country, with one Joann's and two Hancock's in my town. I buy notions and some fabrics with coupons from there, and buy a lot of fabric online. I don't sew because I am cheap, but because I like the creativity, the process and the end result of having a well-fitting garment made in great fabric. Probably I could save money by buying RTW, since I make one muslin and often two of patterns that are new to me, do quite a bit of basting and hand-sewing which takes up expensive time, and never stint on buttons, zippers or lining. I learned to sew from my grandmother and mother, prolific seamstresses who made beautiful lingerie, clothing and even luggage! I don't sew because I am cheap, I sew because I get to walk out the door in a well made garment, tailor made for me in a fabulous fabric.

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  79. For me I can buy nice-looking shirts and jackets on-sale more cheaply than I can make them. Its about the process, reading about tailoring and couture techniques and the fabric, row upon row of it.

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  80. I prefer to describe myself as frugal when it comes to fabric. It's a kinder, gentler description of my lust for a bargain :)

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  81. I, personally, don't find home sewing cheap. It's costing a lot of time and I think that my time is valuable.

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  82. I know I'm a tightwad! Retired, on SS, tight budget and love to sew. I look for quality at the best possible price, seldom pay more than $5/yd for a fabric, hold out for sales or - as you said- do without!

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  83. you just do not know how grateful I am to actually discover this amazing blog. I have a few mistakes and I really need guidance and this blog gives me everything. Thank you very much for this amazing tutorials, inspirations, guidances, I just do not know what to say, thank you.

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  84. Hmmm. I'm not particularly frugal, but sometimes I feel guilty about spending money on fabrics that I do not use right away. That feeling can either drive me to purchase fewer things, or to purchase cheaper things.

    If you have a fabric buying addiction, discount fabric stores are really a great thing - because you can buy 8 different fabrics in ALL the colors you wanted, and ALL the textures that struck you as you walked (or squeezed through) the aisles.

    Over time I have become less frugal. I find I do not want to sew up the cheaper fabrics, and I do not wear garments made from them as much either. Also, my sewing & fitting skills have improved so I now feel more confident cutting into $38/yd wool crepe, instead of $4.99 polyester suiting.

    I still enjoy the freedom of going to a discount shop and knowing I can just pick what I like, and not have to worry about the price.

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  85. I sew because there are no RTW clothes that fit. I am a sexy senior who hates the styles of today. I know what I like and I am very picky. That is why I draft my own patterns. But Joanne and Hancock fabrics are from China. Why sew something that looks like it comes from Walmart.

    Yet, shopping on-line is just as bad. Why spend $20 a yard on shirting cotton that will wrinkle? I am allergic to wool so all those beautiful Italian fabrics won't work for me. Ever since the manufacture of fabric was out-sourced, fabric has declined.. If I find the perfect fabric in the perfect color for my garment. I don't care what the price is.

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  86. I would like to think home sewers are better tagged value conscience . There is no point in my mind to buy imported wool /cashmere or silk to make an outfit to scoop the cat's litter pan in or clean the bathroom . Many "high end" fabrics have special care instructions like dry cleaning that are unsuitable to the life I lead ( artist , teacher, volunteer). I love to sew clothing that is styled a notch above my daily tasks, but withstands it's riggers. I also don't want to pay more than a product is worth. So many businesses mark up only to mark down in fake sales. So I am forced to be sale conscience. If that makes me cheap in the eyes of others so be it.

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  87. Yeah, I'm cheap, but I need to know what they mean by high-end fabric. How much per yard are we talking here? It isn't in my lifestyle to spend $85 on a RTW blouse, no more than it would be for me to make a blouse from $40/yd fabric. As I have progressed in the hobby, I find myself veering more towards natural fibers, and I am willing to spend more for wool and linen, as well as silk, but there are still options for those on a budget (and with the right coupons!). Just yesterday, I found garment-quality silk at my local Joann's. I work in an office, and have little need for super high-end clothing, and certainly wouldn't be pressured into sewing clothing from super-pricey material. I did splurge on the material for my wedding gown, though. Thank you so much for bringing up this subject!!! It has been fascinating reading everyone's comments.

    Lisa

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  88. Peter, I go both ways: cheap and splurgy. My choice depends on the type and purpose of the garment. For some garments I want silk or a good wool, where the style and intended use of the garment warrant the special care required. For a simple shell blouse to wear under the business suit I wear twice a week, I'll purchase the reasonable polyester blend at Hancock or JoAnne Fabric stores. Often the goal is not to save money but to acquire a properly fitting garment.

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  89. I refuse the label cheap. I have two modes of sewing. Practice and Real Thing. For practice on new patterns I've never used, learning new techniques, yeah, I pick up the cheapest fabric of comparable weight and hand that I can find. If it has to be of a heavy wool, does no good to make the practice shell of cotton shirting.

    I do a ton of custom sewing for my boys. The eldest is diesel punk, a military reservist and in college, the younger is a successful high school music student who is often selected for very honored choirs (he just made it into the Regional Honor Choir for High School students in our quad state area) so often needs more formal styling for performances. As he is over 6'4" and inherited my very broad shoulders, there are few choices for him locally to purchase well fitting clothing without driving more than 4 hours one way. Also, we select classic styles that will look excellent on them, will stay classics for a long time, and purchase the finest fabrics we can afford knowing that the garments made from them will last for years. Side benefit, if I make a garment, it is never on the floor and they take much better care of it, always a positive when dealing with teenagers and college students.

    Garments for myself? Well.... I admit, I'm not so free with my money and will wait for that bargain. But I think that is just a side effect of MommyOnABudget for more than 25 years. I tend to live in denim and good cotton skirts because that is where I'm comfy. But when my daughter got married, I was willing to splurge, just never found what I wanted. Selection here is occasionally dismal. Thank god for online fabric stores.

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  90. A Tale of Two Patterns. One was on sale, a Butterick sleeveless blouse with a drape neck. Once sewed into a muslin, I cried over this horribly drafted, poorly suited pattern's results. The Other was a full-price Vogue, sleeveless blouse with a drape neck, which suited me perfectly. As I needed it to wear to a function, full price for the better pattern, needed NOW, was worth it, and it was also worth splurging the "good" blouse fabric with this pattern, as well as the blouses in different fabrics to follow.

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  91. What a fun post and so many interesting comments. I try to spend as little as possible on muslins but buy quality fabric and materials for the final garment.

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  92. I think most people either sew because they can make something better/cheaper than what they could buy, or because what they want doesn't exist. Or possibly both.

    Cost tends to be commensurate with level of craftsmanship and quality of materials; even if you splurge on fabrics, your garment would still be 'cheaper' than buying something of equivalent quality. So no matter how much you spend, I still think home sewing is cheaper. Your skirt with $30/yd fabric might cost more than something you'd find at Target, but you'd pay a lot more for something of equivalent quality, which you might not even be able to find in a store.

    It's kind of like knowing how to fix a car; even if you just know the basics, that could save you a lot of $$ compared to going to a shop. Even if you do a crazy-expensive custom mod, doing it yourself is still cheaper than getting someone else to do it for you.

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