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Apr 10, 2016

Can You Still Save Money Sewing Your Own Clothes?



It seems like another world.

Once upon a time -- up until the 1980's I'd say -- people (primarily women) sewed clothing for themselves and their families because it was cheaper than buying ready-to-wear clothing in stores.  If you're middle aged or older, you probably remember a time when store-bought clothes were budgeted for carefully, as opposed to something picked up on an impulse and so inexpensive that it really doesn't matter if it lasts more than a season.

Back when clothing was more precious, people also took better care of their clothes.  They learned how to mend them and they learned how to reuse them.  If clothing got discarded it was probably because it was truly beyond repair. 





If you buy fabric on a regular basis, you know that good quality fabric can be expensive.  A few yards of fabric can cost more than an entire garment purchased at H&M, Forever 21, Old Navy, and similar purveyors of fast fashion.  And that doesn't factor in the many hours it takes to sew clothing -- how can it possibly cost less to make it yourself?





Of course, if you're very skilled, you can make better quality clothing than you might be able to find at the types of stores listed above.  Truly high quality clothing made with high end fabrics probably is still cheaper to make, it's just that there's so much cheap and trendy clothing available, it makes it harder to rationalize spending more, especially if you work full time or are busy raising a family -- or both.

Readers, a few questions:

Do any of you sew with the primary purpose of saving money, or do you do it out of a love of sewing and/or because you can't find the type of clothes you need in stores?

Is it better not to have to sew for oneself to have a decent wardrobe and have the option of doing other things you enjoy with your free time?  IOW, aren't we better off for having so much cheap clothing available?

Finally, if you are sewing to save, what kind of things are you sewing?

Jump in!

87 comments:

  1. I sew because I dislike the quality of items one find in the stores and because even if I could find good quality clothing, few RTW items fit me. RTW is not designed for athletic women with muscular biceps and quads and defined waists.
    An added bonus is wearing something no one else has from higher quality fabric in colours not currently 'fashionable'.

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    1. This. I don't 'save money' compared to H&M or Old Navy, but I save money compared to good-quality non-polyester shirts that I then have to get tailored to fit properly. Fit is where it's at.

      Though, for the record: pillow covers, curtains, etc are where I save money. Cloth napkins at 40$/4, vs a yard of fabric for 5$ and an hour of sewing. Hmmm.

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  2. I sew because I love to! The only time I save money when sewing is when creating home dec items like custom curtains, Roman shades, etc.

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  3. Oh my. I sew because I can't find anything I like for a price I'm willing to pay! Now I DO love me some Old Navy jeans. They last what seems like forever and I've found the perfect cut/lenth for me. Trying to replicate that would cost more than the jeans and gas to get there.

    My 12 year old daughter has a different predicament. She's a fashionista/upcoming fashion designer and the size of your average 8/9 year old. She just can't find clothes that are age appropriate AND that fit. So she is having to design and hand off her designs to her sample maker (me!) so she can dress how she wants to. She also wants to emphasize eco-friendly fashion, so natural fibers/recycling/etc are a top priority.

    We do make use of Goodwill and resale shops to help alleviate the cost a bit. You can make great stuff out of some of the clothes at Goodwill! I look at their items as yard goods and not actual clothes. When you recalibrate your thinking you never know what you will find.

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    1. I use the same strategy. I use the thrift store option to get yardage also. Buttons, lace, hardware and other accessories can often be found. I enjoy remaking something or using a portion of an item to remake it.

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    2. I, too, love to sew and use thrift stores for yardage, unusual prints, trim etc. Great fun and challenge. I'm also an avid remnant shopper and sence I'm less than 5 " tall I can always make something to wear from a yard or less.

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  4. ^^^^^ the paragraph above is the answer.

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  5. I sew mainly because it is my hobby. If I get a great deal on fabric and can make it for less than I am happy twice over.

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  6. To me, it depends on the quality of the garment I want to end up with. Fast Cheap Fashion is indeed cheap. Both to buy and its look. These days, shirts/blouses, jeans, sweaters can be bought off eBay at good prices, and it looks better by quite a ways. But a shirt of Pima cotton, or Irish linen, or Italian wool or silk is EXPENSIVE to buy, far less dollar cost to make, if labor is free. A good bespoke cotton shirt is $500 to $800 each, min order three, in this town. Beckenstein's cotton shirting is $28.50 a yard. In the last ten or twelve years, I've owned several fleece jackets, all worn out and discarded. And one Polartec Windbloc jacket I made of then $60 of fabric. It still looks nice, and fits better, and probably will for several years more.

    Fast Cheap Fashion, to me, should be called "three seam" fashion for its lack of fashion detail. In a men's shirt, the shoulder seam will hang off the shoulder by two or three inches. The back waist WILL bag out, and often the front waist as well. The upper back will bag at the arm seam. The chest area will look rumpled. The seams WILL be puckered after the second or third washing, because 5mm stitch seams are laid four times faster than 1.25mm stitch seams. The fabric WILL pill because that's the nature of cheap cloth.

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  7. I sew because I love it and I can't stop! I'm very careful about my fabric purchases and luckily have a couple of high quality fabric shops close by me (In New Zealand) which have amazing sales so I DO feel like I save money too. I would never buy fast fashion, especially after seeing 'The True Cost'.

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  8. I sew things to get something that I want and for a specific fit.

    I refuse to buy Fast Fashion, and I also refuse to pay high prices for clothing since if I wanted to spend lots of money on it, I'd make it. So I shop at thrift stores and only buy high quality things. I wear nothing but wool, cashmere, silk and linen -- and all of it purchased at Goodwill for under $5 per item.

    Tegan

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  9. I started as a hobby and now it's a form of expression and the reality of being able to make exactly what I want. I'm getting better at fit, which wasn't a loss for me since RTW never fits me well. I've tried on 50+ pairs of pants to buy 1. Compare that to making two pairs of ginger jeans, second darn near perfect...
    Plus, I mend things I or my husband love, and periodically wield my sewing powers for the house, too.
    I'm fairly certain I don't save money, but I bet it's almost even, plus I like the process!

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  10. I sew vintage style clothes as wardrobe staples, and in this case it does save money. There are several brands that make retro clothing, and none of them are cheap, but the quality and fit of most of them is terrible. It's that "little bit of knowledge" thing - I sew too well now to not notice the poorly made stuff in fast fashion. Where I get frustrated is in not having enough time to make all the things I want/need.

    There are a few things I'm willing to pay for because I can't make them at all or well enough to DIY - jeans and sweaters. Everything else I either alter from thrifted stuff or make myself.

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  11. I sew because it's my hobby and a great stress reliever (until I make a huge mistake and end up ripping out seams). I also sew because clothes in the store don't always fit me and I sew because I love having things that are unique. I mainly sew dresses, skirts and sometimes tops, and I also sew my own costumes for ice skating.

    Nancy in Portland, OR

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  12. For myself, fast fashion is the thrift store. I will only buy new shoes, socks, underwear, and coats.

    Today I shopped online for fabric. I found an incredible wool for $70/yard. I did not buy it. I then found some beautiful wool (bolt end) for $5.40/yard, bought 7 yards, and will make a suit once I know how. Not everything of value can be monetized; I will never be able to compete with RTW on price but RTW will never pay me in psychic dividends such as pride in something I made well.

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  13. I like to think that I exist in the happy medium between the sew-all/buy-all factions. I buy tshirts,socks, jeans for less than I would spend to make them. I don't enjoy sewing knits anyway. I make silk blouses and fancier items that I could not afford to own otherwise. Lately I have been upholstering some cushions. I spent a fair bit of time,but I'm ending up with something that looks like it came from Crate&Barrel but at about 1/7 the price. Sewing doesn't save me money, but it lets me stretch beyond my means/class.

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  14. I sew because I love it and because it usually saves me some money. I remember my grandmother refashioning a lovely claret wool coat to fit me when I was about 10yrs old. This same grandmother helped me to put the zipper in my wool maxi coat that I made in the 70's. I love to cruise the thrift stores looking for fabric at a discount, and making things from bits and pieces for my grandkids. I would really miss being able to sew- it is a creative outlet and most satisfying to do.

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  15. I sew my own clothes for a number of reasons, but saving money is not one. I dislike the quality of RTW, can't find what I'm looking for, and have fit/size issues with RTW (51-year-old in the body of a 14-year-old). Besides which, I love making and wearing unique garments in high-quality fabrics.

    By way of example, I'm currently making nighties. The fabrics are beautiful Japanese, Swiss and Italian cottons. They will be in my preferred styles and they will fit. Deep hems and French seams throughout will cope with frequent laundering. For a special touch, I'm cross stitching the bodices.

    Including the pattern and all supplies, each garment will cost $80 in materials. RTW does not come close with respect to quality of fabric and finishes at this price point (I looked). And if it did, I'd have concerns about production costs/conditions.

    Spud.

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  16. I started sewing cocktail/party dresses for myself 10 years ago because they cost $100-$200 in the store and I couldn't afford to drop that amount of money every time someone had an engagement party or wedding. I still think I save money on jeans, jackets and cocktail dresses but that is because I have already purchased the necessary notions and tools to make those. Sewing knit tops and woven blouses is not going to save you money but oh well. It's fun.

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  17. I don't save money by sewing. But that's not why I do it. I started sewing mainly because I was tired of poor quality and bad fit in RTW. I really enjoy making clothes--it's a hobby and a creative outlet. But it's not cheaper for me, that's for sure. It might be less expensive for some people, but it’s not for me. I do still buy some RTW because I'm not advanced enough or fast enough to make everything I wear. I am one of those weird people who like mending and making repairs to existing garments, too. I like taking something and making it useful again.

    Peter, I’ve been thinking about your question about whether or not we're better off having so much cheap clothing available, and having the option of doing something else with our time rather than sewing. I don't think the environment is better off having all this cheap clothing--we've heard about the down side to it in documentaries and read about it in books. And in a personal way, I think all this excess cheapens the way we look at clothing. What's the point of taking care of it or repairing it? Just throw it out and go buy more. But something is lost in the process: a little self-respect, perhaps, or any sense of connection to where it came from. And since it's so easy to get more, more, more instantly, I think we've become less thoughtful and intentional about how our wardrobe looks and the image we want to present.

    Back in the day, most women probably could sew, but I'm sure there were some who disliked it and found it a burden. If they were doing it for financial reasons, they might consider having so much available now for so little to be a blessing. Though I think they'd be disappointed by the quality of the garments available once they saw them! These days, if someone sews his/her own clothing, it’s usually because he/she wants to. (Or perhaps needs to, due to some fit issue.) It would be difficult for most of us to find the time to sew all our clothing, or all the clothing for the rest of our families. I think we should try to more intentional about what we buy, though.

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    1. Agreed. Is there any benefit to spending more time in the cheap market place? I think the advertising industry persuades thoughtless people that their time doesn't matter; that personal fit and quality don't count; and that what they have already must be discarded in favor of "new" fashions. I think of the time involved in shopping and wish to reduce it for many reasons. So I may spend more on good fabric and quality design and construction and fit, and save myself the trekking to cities and malls. I live in rural Ohio, emphatically not a shopping mecca, and I sew for joy and necessity, quality and fit, and because I'd rather have well made, well fitted and quality garments at the end of x hours than hundreds of miles traveled, days of looking at awful clothes, and still come home empty handed or settled for anything that will do, which I still have to alter. Kris

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  18. I sew for myself because I can't find things that fit properly. I sew for my husband and save on his shirts - you have my permission to attempt to find a slim fit, tall men's shirt for less than $50. I can get shirting and buttons for less than that. I sew for my daughter so things fit properly and ... have you seen what teenage girls are allegedly supposed to be wearing? Yikes.

    I am careful with my fabric purchases. I don't spend as little as I might if we only bought clothing in stores, but then I'd have to buy two-three times as much clothing if I bought it in stores. (I buy knits for the children and they're hardly worn in before they're off to the rag bin!)

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  19. I sew special outfits for myself, but spend an enormous amount of time altering store bought and thrifted clothing to fit my pear shaped figure, and because I require clothing that permits movement. I do not like skin tight anything. There is a feeling of power in knowing that I can choose the fiber and the fit. I really cannot choose the fabric because JoAnn Fabric, Hobby Lobby and Hancock and going all polyester all the time.

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  20. I haven't bought RTW for several years. The quality isn't what it used to be and then there are fitting issues. I'm tall so everything is too short for me. The fabrics used in RTW are so thin now- so clothes can be bought cheaply, worn once or twice and then tossed. I'm 53 and didn't grow up with fast fashion. My mom made a lot of my clothes and she taught me how to sew. I'd rather have a wardrobe of classic pieces made with better quality materials. I think I can do this more economically by sewing my clothes. One thing I've noticed though is that so much of the fashion fabrics available for purchase are leftovers from the apparel industry so lots of flimsy stuff and soooo much polyester. I love sewing with jersey knits but it's a challenge to find print jerseys that aren't synthetic and juvenile. There are some nice rayon jerseys out there but they are pricey and require gentle laundering. I'd rather wear cotton, linen, silk or wool as they are more breathable and seem to hold up better.

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    1. That's exactly how I feel too! I'm tall too, so where some of my petite friends get RTW things taken in or taken up to fit them, that just isn't an option for me. It's so sad the way that RTW clothes often fall apart these days after just a few washes - much better to take time and be picky about fabric so you get what you want. Why buy off the rack when you could have couture?

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  21. One reason I sew is a formative event from my childhood: my mother bought me a blue, fake fur teddy bear coat when I was 8. They were very popular that year. Before I had worn it once, my friend's mother next door bought her the same one. My mother returned mine to the store the next day. "You won't like standing at the bus stop all winter in the same coat as your friend. You want to look like yourself and not anyone else," my mother assured me. I didn't agree with her then. I was so disappointed as I had loved that coat and resented seeing it on my friend every morning. I don't remember what coat I got instead. I remember, though, when my grandmother sewed me a pale pink wool Easter coat that spring. I loved it all the more that I knew no one else could ever have the same. That stuck with me. I prefer to wear something completely unique. I love looking in my closet and seeing things I have made. There is something deeply satisfying about wearing your own handmade clothing. I feel connected to my grandmother who was a great seamstress and who I loved dearly. I also love the process of sewing, especially the feeling of so much possibility in a good fabric store. It is a special kind of high, isn't it?! I wonder if sewing will ever become the economical choice again? What would have to happen for that to be the case? If that happened, so many people I know would be in crisis at losing the cheap gratification of fast fashion. I wonder how many of them could make the transition to the fabric store high?

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    1. This is my favorite reply. I sew for the connection as well...I refuse to let sewing be a lost art in a world of fast fashion and sweat shops. I am sewing for my 3 year old daughter and it is so immensely gratifying seeing her pick out fabric, watch me sew, ask a dozen times if it's done yet, and then wear the item everywhere and fall asleep in it. It's a beautiful thing.

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  22. I sew for severall reasons. One reason is that I can make styles that suit my taste and activities and I am not at the mercy of current fashion. I do look to save money where and when I can , so I am always on the look out for good buys on fabric and notions that I can use for future projects.
    I do not like to have a ton of garments in my closet so I try to make clothing that I will truely use. I am a slow sewer so that means I have a limited wardrobe. All in all it is the personal satisfaction and challenge of bettering myself as well as my skills that keeps me sewing. Oh, and lets not forget the sensual joy of fabric in general.
    Gail from Schwenksville

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  23. I inherited most of my fabric/notions/patterns etc so in that sense it's cheaper for me to sew! I still think sewing save me money though. The cheapest I could get a single item of clothing I'd wear beyond the most absolute of basics is around $20. For that, I can buy 3-4 meters of good quality cotton from my local Asian fabric stores. I find sewing gives me a lot more flexibility in how to save money, I can shop around for fabric, repurpose something from an op shop, and in general make much higher quality things than I'd ever want to buy

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  24. I began sewing garments, rather than crafting/painting/drawing in my spare time, because I had very little money. I'm in the awkward student-transitioning-to-professional stage, where I'm expected to have clothes that look neat for conferences and interviews, but also earn only enough to pay rent. I find the only way I can sustainably achieve this is to allocate $20 every couple of months to an op-shopping trip, where I buy oversized clothing and cut it all up to use for material for whatever I need. I draft my own patterns to make this feasible, so I can work with whatever fabric I find. It took ages at first to make each item, but was the only option I had. Now it's been a couple of years and I find the process more fun and speedy. Does mean I spend lots of time on it, but allows me to eat more fruit and veg and not panic when something tears or wears out or I fluctuate in weight. Definitely only works for op-shopped material, buying new material would be so expensive! I live vicariously through bloggers who buy beautiful fresh material :)

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  25. I sew for myself because I hate shopping and when I do shop, the clothes are all red, black, white and navy. Not my colors. I do sew for my daughter who being handicapped there are no clothes that will fit her. I learned to make alterations for people in wheelchairs and her special needs. I could afford to buy clothes but the fabric is TERRIBLE these days.

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  26. Good question! I think we all know I am not a fan of fast fashion. Being also in the larger end of the plus size spectrum, the cheap RTW clothes are generally repulsive to me anyway with any polyester totally out the question. The boutique shops that sell locally made clothes re more my style, and I shop them with intense focus on the one really good thing I need, or not at all. I am well and truly past the quantity wardrobe, and am narrowing mine down all the time. I aim to own less than thirty garments not including bras and undies. However in the interest of full disclosure, being a Bio drag queen, I probably have more costumes than that! Mostly made, one or two RTW items I have repurposed. But I am trying to live well and with less. I hate my drawers being full nd my wardrobe bulging. I want space!

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  27. I sew because (listed in no particular order): *I have massive fit issues and it takes HOURS to find something in RTW that even comes close to fitting. *Counterpoint to that - I absolutely HATE to shop (for clothes, shoes, groceries...anything but fabric!). *AND, counterpoint to that, because I love to find great fabric to add to my stash, I have to sew to justify it! *I get a big kick out of problem solving, which is a constant in my sewing...every fabric, pattern, and design concept has something new to confound (and eventually teach) me.

    See any mention here of saving money? Nope. (Exception - I do save money by making my own knickers (panties). A scrap of stretch knit, a little elastic, a few minutes and done. $10 to $15 saved, and it fits. I am also learning to make bras, and given how expensive my 36N bras are, that will save some serious money.)

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  28. Oh well, I sew because I like sewing. I liked patchwork, but once I have begun sewing clothes, this is much more interesting. I can dress them! Said that, I don't buy expensive fabrics, it doesn't make sense to me. I buy good priced fabrics at flea markets in my city (I live in Barcelona and we have a terrific place for buying fabrics and other tools or sewing). So, I don't plan my sewing, I just adapt my needs to what I find. And so far, it works.
    I don't usually buy manufactured clothes: it happens to me that I don't need them, I don't like the price when I see how they are done (and I can do them) and they don't usually fit me well. I can not make money out of my sewing, but I like to do it in my free time, and I definitively save money.

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  29. I sew because I enjoy it. I also like to have unique garments and those that fit well. If it's not made by me it is usually second hand. In the last 2 weeks I have spent about £20 on fabric. I have made 3 tops, a pair of shorts, two dresses no a shirt. I think I'm saving money here.

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  30. Good question! For me, there are several reasons to, but none of them is cost (though underwear and basic T-shirts out of organic 100% cotton interlock are actually cheaper to make for me). 1) The cost of fast fashion is not the true cost of a garment, but subsidised by being able to treat the ones who sew fast fashion garments nearly like slaves. I don't want to support that! The other reasons are:
    1) I have never enjoyed going shopping for clothes, especially since it means being a ball in the waves of current fashion.
    2) Not having a serger yet enjoying neat finishes, I actually take the time to do the things I wouldn't be able to afford: proper flat-felled seams, hongkong binding, french seams, ...
    3) That little spark of pride whenever you finish something ;)
    bw, merryl

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  31. Since I am sewing simple basics (ie shell style tops and pencil skirts) with MUCH better fabric than I would be able to afford in ready to wear I feel like I am saving money on just that! I have a wool boucle skirt, underlined with silk organza, lined with silk and it looks amazing. It fits well and it fits like I like. It's impossible to find something to fit a 5'9" leggy body without showing too much. I end up with something I never would have been able to afford as my "hobby". So yeah, if you look at it like that I'm saving a ton of money. If you ask my husband....... Well. We don't always have to agree.

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  32. I used to sew to save but that all changed when RTW became cheaper and convenient. As I have gotten older, I returned to sewing because my body is changing and I need more alterations for a good fit. Also, I love good fabric so go through the process of sewing, which actually is not my favorite activity, in order to have clothing that feels and looks good.

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  33. I sew for a few reasons: it's fun, it means I don't have to go clothes shopping, and my undies fit so much nicer if they're homemade :-) can't say that for my homemade dresses though, I haven't quite mastered that yet!

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  34. I sew because I have difficult finding clothes that I like at prices that I can afford and because I enjoy it.

    In my case, I don't know if it would be better for me to not have to sew myself in order to have a decent wardrobe. I like nice, well-made things. I can't afford to buy them ready-made, so, I buy the best fabric that I can and, instead of having an abundance of cheap clothing, I enjoy fewer, but better pieces.

    My latest project is a muslin of a button-down shirt. I really want a black silk-taffeta (I already have the fabric in my stash) button-down shirt, like this, but the price places the RTW out of my reach. Knowing how to sew makes the style more accessible. I also want to make a skirt like this. Again, the RTW version is far outside my reach.

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    1. You have great taste; when we make ourselves something wonderful, we truly are saving a lot of money. Thanks for making this crystal clear.

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  35. Know what you mean! As an addict of expensive fabrics with limited skills & equipments, I keep quiet when someone brags about how they're saving money & getting much better quality garments in the process. Because I know that would never apply to me. And when you add in labour (vs earnings if I were to work those same hours), even mid-range RTW would probably cost me less. It's easy to take other people's effort for granted. Once one starts to sew for customers one realize that quickly. RTW has the economy of scale + specialised equipments + experts. If they don't fit well it may just be due to designing for a different target body & not poor design/pattern skills. And seam quality may still be better than what I can achieve on my home machine with limited skills. So I won't slag RTW, at least not the ones I can find in London. But I so know when I sew I have the CHANCE to customise to my taste & whims, which would be impossible in RTW. Whether I succeed or not is an entirely different story! :-)

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  36. I enjoyed reading all the comments and your post. I have always sewn, but only on and off and two years ago I stopped buying RTW and sewing only from remaking charity shop buys (and able to buy 3 euro pure wool coat to recut etc). so I spend next to nothing on fabric (but money does get diverted to vintage sewing patterns!!). if you can sew and recognise grain, then remaking is much easier than i originally thought. The wool coat I remade last year from an italian wool mens coat is one of the best coats I ever had, due in part to a detachable hood which I drafted myself. There is a blog with a tag line of 'become your own luxury brand' which i think is so apt. could not go back to RTW clothes

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  37. I do save money by sewing my own clothes, because the clothes I would buy (and have, on very rare occasions, bought) cost many hundreds of dollars in the stores like Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue. Then on top of what I would spend for the piece itself I have to add in alterations charges to get it to fit me the way I want. Even if a piece of fabric is expensive, I still save money because it costs less than the finished garments that it compares to, and it comes off the machine fitting the way I like.

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  38. I think that if you are a guy, it is pretty damn hard to save money. The big "box" stores like Jos A. Bank sell dress shirts for less than $100 a pop. I've recently taken one apart. It's clear they use a lot of glue to help hold the seams together.

    For a gal, though, there is good opportunity to save some $$$. A RTW skirt usually costs 2-3x what the fabric costs, and it's really a quick project to do a pencil skirt. Similar for RTW dresses. You can save a ton of money if you are willing to make your own bras - especially if you need custom sizes or are smaller chested. RTW jeans and shirts and anything that is made out of stretch fabric I find to be a wash. RTW coats are a wash for the cheap stuff, but if you want to put the money into a cashmere blend, you will marke the money back 2-10x what they charge in department stores.

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  39. I sew because I'm petite with big bust and very short arms, so nothing, nothing fits me. Besides sewing makes me feel useful, makes me think a lot (problem solving to the max!) and keeps me sane. It's no cheap (especially now that the source of my notions and patterns is closing.. ejem....Hancock's...) but a button down shirt made by me is priceless!

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    1. This is exactly my situation. I enjoy sewing, which is great. And I particularly enjoy being able to wear clothing in fabrics I enjoy, and that fits me. I can never buy a shirt off the rack. Or a nicely fitting dress either, for that matter. For much of my life I've had to resort to stretch clothing to overcome this, but it's not always the nicest.

      Sewing gives me the option of silk shirts, cotton shirts, linen dresses, all the things I love. And in a beautiful quality fabric of my choosing and a style of my choosing.

      You're right though Peter. It doesn't save me a cent. But it makes me feel like a million bucks!

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  40. Apologies if this is a double post. I wrote about why I sew in more detail here ( http://sewingfaille.blogspot.com/2015/12/why-i-sew.html ) but basically, I sew because I enjoy making things, and for artistic self-expression. I imagine I'm still saving money by sewing ball gowns instead of buying them, but at this point I have so many ball gowns that really, it's just for fun.

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  41. I try very hard to avoid buying sweatshop/3rd world clothing. This is very hard to do, and very expensive, so in order to fulfill my desire for new clothes, I sew. It is very satisfying to wear something I made, and I like when its my "little secret" when people compliment something I made.

    I recently got married and I made my wedding dress. I understand why bridal stuff is so expensive, but I did not have that kind of a budget for the type of dress I wanted. Looking back, I would have been so disappointed if I didn't make it. It was a lot lot lot of work, but I loved it and learned so much!

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  42. In the late 70s/early 80s, I sewed clothing for myself because it was less expensive and I could make what I wanted.
    Today, I have plenty of clothes and rarely need anything new -so I don't make clothing except from my handwoven fabric (and an occasional item for a grand-niece.)

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  43. I mix both RTW and home sewn. Most of the time, it's very hard to find things that fit me decently due to my shape plus I love victorian/50's/retro aesthetics so those are also difficult to find. However, I do love me some basic knit tees RTW.

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  44. I think it depends. I sew for the enjoyment and creating a style that cannot be found in stores. My goal is to create my own Chanel jacket that's expensive, but also want the experience of hand sewing as well. I went to see the Issac Mizrachi exhibit at the Jewish Museum this past weekend and he said something that resonated with me that it's more about quality regardless of price. I can buy something that's $35.00 and it's great, but can also pay $2,000 and it's junk. Looking for things for quality regardless of price.

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  45. This one is a dual edges sword. On special occasion dress, sewing one for yourself it the better bargain.

    However, on everyday type clothes, one really has to hunt to be able to make the item cheaper than buying in the store (especially t-shirts). But if you like the fit of your handmade t-shirts better than it doesn't matter if it is cheaper than RTW because you will wear it more often.

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  46. I sometimes save when I find great deals on fabric in the textile district and buy a two dollar pattern at the Joann sale. But some Indie patterns cost more than an entire fast fashion sewn up garment would. And that's only the pattern! I wonder why I bother but I just like sewing,I guess.

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  47. When my children were small I made them clothes very cheaply, using charity shop finds and repurposing. But as they got older they didn't want home made clothes.. The boy said that they looked too feminine and the girl said that by the time I had finished the item, it was no longer in fashion lol! I am glad to say that my daughter now sews for herself and my son loves the shirts I make for him. But it is not really cheap. My goal is always to finish the project beautifully so that it is obvious to anyone that this isn't cheap ready to wear. Trouble is, very few people actually care. I am nearly 60 now and would love to only wear home made clothes, now that I have the time to make them, but I just can't find the fabrics. But I definitely buy less RTW.

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  48. Important question. Our economy has changed a lot to give sewing a different place. I have been sewing a long time, initially to get a better fit and save money, evolving to much greater convenience and time saving, as well as making clothes that work better for my active life. I much prefer time with my sewing, my music and tv, to schlepping to uninspiring malls and searching for clothes. The shopping experience used to be more fun; now it seems like a horrible chore. I was blessed for many years by my generous mother, who bought gorgeous fabric that I got to sew. Once you have worked with silk and linen and real Indonesian batik, there's no looking back, and no RTW that is faintly accessible from my rural residence. Maybe the short version of why I sew is that I'm a fabric junkie! Kris

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  49. I enjoy sewing and choose to spend my free time creating clothing. I am old enough that I started sewing at a time when it was cheaper to sew and I lived in a smaller town so the variety of RTW was low. It made perfect sense to me in high school to make the majority of my clothing. Although now I sew for pleasure, I have a hard time getting out of the frugal mindset. I look for good quality fabric, but I sometimes settle for lower quality if the price is too high. I also do a lot of fabric shopping at estate, garage sales and thrift shops. This makes my selections rather limited. I'm also of an age that many of the fast fashion stores do not have the styles I prefer. So while I could get things cheaply, they are many times things I wouldn't want to wear.

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  50. I sew because I love it. When I was a stay at home mom in the 80's, I made my daughters' clothes because it was cheaper, and I really enjoyed it. As they turned into teenagers, I didn't make as many, but skirts were always easy to whip up for them. I was also making my own clothes in the 90's for work. Skirts, simple jackets and slacks. Then, my work hours increased, the kids got busier, and sewing was left on the sidelines. Fast forward to to the present, I've now retired, and found a real enjoyment of sewing once again. I'm shocked at the quality of affordable ready to wear, and the quality of some fabrics. Having said that, I still buy the cheaper fabrics because it's what my lifestyle needs. (No dressy office wear is needed.) And I buy RTW, on sale if possible. Bottom line, I sew because I love it and it brings me great joy. It is not, however, a money saver!!

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  51. As others have said - not if you want to out-cheap fast-fashion quality, fit and prices.

    I sew to save on home decorating items, to find garments in my size (*HUGE* lack of stock for tall women in stores!) to get garments that actually fit, to get garments that last longer, to make garments not seen in every store, to make garments last longer. Before I got to high school, Mom made quite a few of my clothes, but don't think she really liked sewing. It seems most of her sewing involved mending Dad's work cloths (farming is hard on them) or sewing curtains and such to save money. I can't say that I blame her - I'd say I don't like sewing if mending was most of what I sewed.

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  52. Fit. THat's why I learned to sew. Clothing that fits beautifully is just so hard to find. All the other things I love about sewing flowed from there - that I can make exactly what I want, that I can make higher quality garments with better materials than I could afford, that I generally dislike synthetic, which is what you often see in fast fashion....

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    1. I should add that I don't think I've saved a penny compared to what I used to spend, but have saved a bundle on what I would have to spend for the quality of garments I sew. I have a smaller, but much nicer wardrobe. And I've all but stopped buying RTW except for the basics because I've become even pickier about fit.

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  53. I sew for fun and creativity and make most of my home projects which I love doing. I do save money there. I can easily alter clothing that I buy for myself and it is far cheaper than sewing clothes for me. I even stopped purchasing clothing on E-Bay, I remember I was buying gently used Osh Kosh clothing when my daughter was small, but I could find the same item, brand new on sale for half the used price on Ebay. I purchase my daughter and son's clothing from pretty good retailers and their sales are great. I just bought my daughter a dress that was originally %69.00, waited for it to go on sale and they also offered a discount. It was $19.00. No way I could make that dress for the same cost. I do not like mending, but don't mind taking up hems, or adding that something extra to make something look more special. Most people I know who sew their own clothing do it for all the reasons mentioned above.

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  54. I've always been a home seamstress. I've also always been a "Goodwill" reuser - and, even in the olden days there were plenty of wonderful items available in these stores. I find the BEST patterns are those I make from an article of clothing that fits me perfectly. I truly can't stand those crinkly paper patterns (which NEVER fit me). I've also been a production sewist and learned how to crank out a shirt in an hour. So, for me sewing a good quality garment or buying at "goodwill" is always cheaper than buying new, ready made.

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  55. I'm an RTW 24. All the stuff available in my size is complete crap for non-crap prices in a needlessly restricted pallet with styles I don't like. If I sew some of my wardrobe, I entertain myself and get clothing I like in colors and styles I like. If I am careful in my fabric shopping, then I can have things for Old Navy prices with Saks quality.

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  56. I sew for several reasons. I began at age 10 in 4H because my grandmother was such an inspiration and I wanted to be just like her. As I got older, I could not find clothes, especially pants, because I was tall and tall sizes did not exist in those days. I kept sewing for the same reason. I sewed for my daughter as she was growing up, mostly for pleasure and because I could make something unique. I now sew, still because I'm tall and must pay premium prices to buy tall pants and because I am now also a plus size. Somehow designers must believe that if you are a plus size you do not deserve, or want, to look good. I find most plus sizes very dowdy. I also sew because I am a fiber artist and I love creating unique and unusual garments. NO it's not usually cheaper but it is ALWAYS pleasurable.

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  57. I'm definitely not sewing to save $$$. Sewing lets me have clothes that I really love because, for the most part, what I want to wear isn't in the stores (wrong color, wrong style, wrong price range), or if I find something I like, it probably won't fit well without some alterations. If I'm going to have to alter a RTW piece, I might as well sew from scratch. I'm petite and shortening sleeves, waist length, shoulder width, etc., could be very time consuming and sometimes, impossible. Petite sizes are getting better and the fit is sometimes passable, but I'd rather have really good fitting clothes. No savings here.

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  58. Fit. Fit is the reason I sew clothes. It's bad enough finding something for myself, but my husband is short (25 inch inseam) and there is literally nothing that fits him properly. I can usually alter ready to wear, but finding dress shirts is impossible. For myself, I usually alter things bought off the rack. Looking at some of the clothes available, even in the higher end stores, I have to wonder why we all put up with such bad-fitting clothes. If you look around any room that you're in, you'll be able to tell just how badly *everything* fits *everyone.* No wonder we're moving to more casual clothes in general--a T-shirt that doesn't fit is easier to put up with than a dress shirt that doesn't. I don't think most people have any understanding of what fit truly means any more, either.

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  59. I definitely sew because I love it. I always also had a thing for vintage style clothes and because I couldn't find any in thrift stores, this is my alternative. I am actually getting better at sewing and getting more oohhhs and aaahhhs from my family who pointed out the cost effectiveness of buying. But then they realize, the things I make you can't buy in the store.

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  60. I don't have a google account, sorry for posting as 'anonymous'.
    I started making my own clother because I both loved sewing and my measurements were very much different from the average sizes - my waist too thin, bum too curvy, arms too long, shoulders too sloping, and other minor measurments differed from standards. Storebought are always a bit ill fitting. Even if it wasn't so I'd prefer my own made mostly because wearing them feels much better. Investing your time and effort adds some non-cash value to the garment, no money can buy it. Kristine

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  61. I sew a lot of merino for me, the kids and my husband and it's way cheaper to make than buy (an in nz and can pick up merino easily from fabric stores) I see because I get to choose what I wear, and so I can have different clothing to everyone else. Both my kids have strong views on what they like and so we can make their visions work.

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  62. I have recently returned to the sewing machine because I can find nothing in RTW that is stylish, age appropriate, and of decent quality. Improving fit is a bonus, Definitely not trying to save money, except with home dec projects -- I have saved tons making things like throw pillows and drapes.



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  63. I just like to be creative and sewing is about the only thing that really relaxes me. The construction, the different materials and other related stuff is just all inspirational to me. Shopping for clothes on the other hand stresses me out big time. I just can't stop thinking about the dust and other durt in a clothes shop and above all everyone trying on the clothes just makes me shiver.

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  64. The irony here is that -- having met the financial obligations involved in raising children and sending them to college -- I am now willing to spend more on clothes than I ever have in my life, only to find there is almost nothing out there but disposable crap for teenagers and shapeless bags for "mature" women (looking at you Eileen Fisher). Finally concluded that sewing is the only way I am going to get quality fabrics and good construction.

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  65. I think you can make clothes and save money if your goal is to make a garment with the same amount of quality as you would find at Macy's. When I was working, I made some tropical wool lined pants for about $50 to $60 dollars. In my size, if they were available you would have spent $500 or so for the same garment. They wore like iron and I still have them in my closet.

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  66. In an indirect way, I do save a bit of money through sewing. While fond of style and fashion, I've been averse to shopping in most stores. Regardless of the various fitness levels and sizes I've been over the years, finding styles that flattered and fit well was always a challenge. Between lack of decent clothing options and living in places with closets the size of a postage stamp, my wardrobe has often been rather sparse. I took it back up so that I COULD have more options to choose from. Granted, I'm still building my skills back up after way too long off the treadle, so I definitely shop sales and plan out my fabric to pattern projects. I do know that the stuff I've made is better quality, and since they're regular rotation, my cost per wear is definitely saving me some shekels.

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  67. My sewing is a combination of a few things... I sew because I love it! Also, finding exactly what I want in RTW is very difficult at times. Mainly because of my fitting issues and styling aesthetics. (I love what I want and how I want it!) I've grown so accustomed to not even bothering with clothing shopping any longer. When I want something special, I tend to look online at stores and in magazines for inspiration. Then I go to my fabric stash and patterns.

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  68. When I was a kid, my grandmother managed the linen's department at Sakowitz, a ritzy department store that has since closed. Most of my clothes and my brother's came from Sakowitz. My grandmother also made a lot of our clothes, up until we got to be 9 or 10 years old. And up until the early 90's it was still common to purchase good quality clothing in a store and immediately have it tailored to fit, so I grew up thinking of "RTW" in terms of high quality and tailoring. I was so relieved to get old enough to make my own choices, which inevitably veered to the opposite extreme (torn jeans, t-shirts, etc). As I got older and went to work I realized how expensive good quality clothing was, and I really appreciated my childhood wardrobe. I'm learning to sew, now, because I want to merge quality with my love of casual looks. I would much rather spend $70 or $80 a yard for super wonderful fabric I then turn in to a simple top or skirt or pants that'll will be unique and fit me and that I'll love, than spend $400 or $500 or even more for something similar that's priced that way mainly because it comes from a ritzy store. Not that I've spent $70 or $80 -- but when my skills get better (or when I start to amass some TNT patterns), that's the direction I won't mind going.

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    1. Oh, Sakowitz! I loved that store. Back in the 80s, when I was in college, I loved the one in Amarillo. I couldn't afford anything in it, but I loved going in there and looking. They had the loveliest ladies room upstairs, all pink and celadon green, with a separate room with plush carpet and couches to lie down and rest when tired out from shopping. As a small town West Texas girl, I was fascinated by this. (And still am. What a civilized idea! Too bad they don't have things like that much anymore.) Alas, Sakowitz is long gone everywhere (a victim maybe of the oil bust in '86? Not sure about that, but it was about that time they closed).

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    2. Wow - that's the store my grandmother worked at! I'm from Canyon (born there, but only actually lived there during my teenage years, as my Dad's work moved us around a lot), which I'm sure you're familiar with. I, too, have very fond memories of that store. They just don't make them like that anymore.

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    3. Wow, small world! I went to college at WT.

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  69. I think you need to consider time in rotation when comparing fast vs hand made. Fast fashion is usually bought and discarded within one year or less. Many hand made garments are made from higher quality fabric and can last for years. Natural fiber fabrics in RTW are expensive and hard to find. Garments made with natural fiber fabric have a rotation life that can be counted in decades rather than months. Sticking to classic styles that never will become passe, makes $$$ sense for any sewer.

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  70. I definitely spend more on sewing than I ever did on my wardrobe before---but I have a much BETTER wardrobe now than did then.

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  71. Why do I sew? I've been sewing for more than 50 years. H&M and Old Navy didn't exist when I started sewing and I can't even remember why I started sewing. My mother didn't sew and my grandmother had given up sewing years before. I sew because I can't afford the kind of quality that I can make. I also cannot find clothing that fits as well as I can make it. That and it's fun to plan and it's fun to sew. I think that if you compare what you sew to the prices at H&M or others of their ilk no you cannot save money, but if you are comparing and aspiring to sew high end rtw which costs an arm and a leg, then yes you do save money. I your favorite tee shirt sells for several hundred dollars, then you really do same money. I bought some gorgeous quality tie dye knit a lot like the fabric that Proenza Schouler uses for tees that cost more than $200. Even at $22 a yard I save money. The shirts you make are not the same as the ones sold by H&M. If you use high quality cotton your shirts are more akin to the ones sold by high end shirt makers that sell for hundreds. It's all relative, isn't it?

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  72. I guess I'm gonna be the lone voice in the crowd who points out that she is an AWFUL seamstress... None of my clothing items is practical and let's not get me started on the fit of my hand mades. Since I'm approx a 10 or 12 in RTW, I can find things that fit and flatter me.

    I DO hate the waste and damage fast fashion does in our world, but most of day to day clothing is blue jeans (skinny from H&M for $10), sneakers, my favorite Costo brand wool blend socks, a geeky small men's t-shirt from Target, a bra from the internet, and a $100 American Giant hoodie.

    I can't ask for a better quality hoodie and it certainly isn't "fast" fashion. Screen printing for geeky shirts is a skill I probably won't be adding to my arsenal anytime soon. Bra's are out because I am not gonna risk the ladies to my shoddy skills. Socks I could knit, but my love and energy shouldn't go into something the old, nail riddled, floors in my house devour. Jean's ARE on the list, but it's expensive fabric and fitting jeans is hard! I could stand to make more underpants though, that's more of a practice since I liked my first attempt.

    I sew because I have a million ideas and a compulsion to buy fabric when I am thrifting. Also, satisfaction when it works out. I am a compulsive creator and it's something I simply have to do to survive.

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  73. I primarily make bras now so I definitely save

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  74. I sew for myself because I like it and also because it gives me access to styles and a fit I couldn't get from RTW. I often buy fabric at low prices at my local market and have become really good at finding the good stuff in the piles of polyester there, so I think I usually spend less on fabric than I would on clothes if I didn't sew. But that doesn't include the time spent on sewing, obviously.
    In general, I think fast fashion has massively decreased the value of clothes in the eyes of the general public. I have done sewing work for a while (mostly alterations on bridal dresses) and people's willingness to pay for that is (at least here in the Netherlands) shockingly low. Basically, if you feel you are already badly uncharging for something, customers will complain about the cost and try to get a discount. From their point of view, I suppose it makes sense: If even a "nice" and "expensive" dress at a fast fashion place will cost about 100 euros, paying the same to have a wedding dress altered seems like a lot... Even if that is a very labour-intensive process which requires the use of specialist tools.
    This attitude really turned me off sewing as a job

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  75. I sew because I'm very picky, and I want to wear good quality things that actually fit me.
    I don't sew with money in mind, but I'm probably spending less in the long term by trying to find good quality fabrics and repairing my clothes when they're damaged.

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