Is it worth sewing your own clothes: WHY I DO WHAT I DO

No, it’s not worth sewing your own clothes because it can quickly add up and it would be cheaper instead to buy clothes from retail shops like H & M, Wal-Mart, or even online sites like Amazon. 

So if that’s the case then, why do I sew, you ask?

Before I get into my short story I want you to know that my goal for writing this article is to help you figure out what YOUR WHY is for wanting to sew clothes. Because I understand that sometimes we need that little bit of a compelling WHY to put fire on our backside ourselves to get some momentum going, Right?

Stick around until the second half of the article if you find (after reading the first half) that, you don’t really have a WHY to sew your own clothes because, if you’re a curious learner like me then you’d want to know more about when it is cheaper to sew your own clothes. That way you can explore the world of sewing your own clothes in a cost-effective way to figure out the Why coming from the other angle.

is it worth sewing your own clothes
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Part 1: Why I do what I do

For the longest time when I was younger and now looking back I feel like I used to sew my clothes as a form of self-expression and to gain acceptance from others.

Being an introvert, a person of less (if any) words I felt like, whenever I got into a social gathering it helped me prove to the opposite person that I’m not a person with no substance – and therefore there’s this skill to prove it – Also a great conversation starter to help break the ice by the way;)

Wow. Actually, it amazes me now to realize that this is what’s been going on at a deeper level in my head! But I think I’m more confident now. And slowly but surely coming out of my shell as I’m growing older. 

Nowadays I simply sew clothes because I looooove the feeling of knowing the fact that I am able to turn a flat piece of fabric into a real three-dimensional item with my own two bare hands. That feeling is just magical and satisfying to me. 

Now, that’s just my story. How about others

Why do other people sew their own clothes?

I am a part of a sewing group on Facebook and so I decided to post this question on there. Because I want to get a deeper understanding of what the common driving factor is between all of us. And ‘yes’ I did find it but, before I give you that here are the specific motivators (that I can see) that are driving some of these people:

  • Customizability
  • Fit
  • Health Adversities
  • Originality
  • Pleasure
  • Self Expression
  • Therapy

To summarise it seems as though everyone who sews their own clothes either does it through frustration or out of pure hobby which are two opposite ends of the spectrum. However, the common denominator for the reason why they do so is that there is an emotional need in them for having to want to sew their own clothes. And that need outweighs the worth in terms of $$. 

So here is the question I want to pose to you. 

What’s the pain or pleasure deep inside you that’s nudging YOU to sew your clothes?

What’s the pain or pleasure deep inside you that’s NUDGING YOU to sew your own clothes?

Part 2 : When is it cheaper to make versus buy your own clothes

From the top of my head right now I can give four scenarios for when it’s cheaper to make versus buy your own clothes. And they are:

  1. When buying ready-made clothes yet also having to get alteration with additional cost.
  2. It’s cheaper to replicate a DIY version of a designer label. 
  3. It’s cheaper to make your outfit for the one-off occasions like for example a Prom. 
  4. How about even making your wedding dress! Continue reading to learn the details. 

1. When buying ready-made clothes yet also having to get alteration with additional cost

I don’t think any of the clothes any of us buy off the store shelf fits like a dream- unless of course, YOU happen to be a rare, lucky exception (which I don’t know if it is something that exists). The reason being we’re all unique when it comes to body shapes.

In fact, this issue is one of the top problems people talked about on the Facebook Group.

A woman will sew her own clothes because she’s very tall for the standard garments sold in the shops. Another woman is too small and doesn’t find any garments in the shops that fit her petite torso perfectly. I know this problem too well from my clients.

Most of my clients are of Southeast Asian origin and have a petite body frame compared to the women who originate in the west. And living in the UK many of my women purchase garments from the high street only to have them altered because of the fit issues. I can tell you about 80% of these women buy dresses that need two small alterations to be made for them.

  1. Dresses/skirts and trousers need shortening.
  2. The sleeves also need shortening!

In summary, somebody who knows sewing can whip up and fix this issue in 15 minutes to max 30 minutes. Saving themselves at least a minimum of $10 for each garment of additional fees. 

2. When you don’t want to spend your money on a designer label

If you buy a branded garment you easily will spend around $1000 and maybe even over that. By a little DIY, you can replicate the same if not close to yet, staying within the budget of $100. Sometimes all it takes is to look beyond the label and grasp the fact that at the end of the day ‘maybe, you could make that yourself!’

“Oh but I’m paying for the quality”

That too (believe it or not) can be attained with sewing too. How?

Pick n’ choose a quality fabric and quality thread to sew with then, with exceptional effort and topnotch sewing you WILL still get quality while yet spending less as opposed to buying the branded version.

Like they say “where there is a will, there is a way” 😉

3. When you decide to not spend on a one-off expensive dress for the one-off occasion

If you’re something like me who isn’t comfortable spending large sums on a dress that will only get worn ONCE and then left behind in the back of the closet for the rest of its life then, this one will speak to you.

For these one-off occasions like Proms, festivals, parties, etc. you can easily find sewing patterns of fancy gowns with many pattern brands like Burda, Simplicity Patterns, McCalls, and not to mention hundreds of independent Pattern companies. However, if you’re coming into sewing with no prior experience then I would suggest you only venture into a challenge like this with plenty of time (at least 3 months) and definitely understand and begin the project with a toile. This way you’ll allow yourself plenty of room for play and practice to get the dress as perfect as possible.

4. Your wedding dress!

Many courageous women have gone to the extent to even make their wedding dress!

Yes, it can be done. Like they say “if there’s a will there is a way” 

It is a scary thing to do- I sure didn’t have the courage to do it myself! However, there are some words of wisdom I can give you if YOU are thinking of making your wedding dress.

Some tips I can give to a beginner would be:

  • Use a pattern
  • Choose a style that’s semi-easy to make without compromising on the perfect style of your dreams.
  • Definitely make a toile first
  • Get started at least a year out from the big day.

Is making your own clothes better for the environment

With the rise of fast fashion yes, it can be better to make your own clothes for the environment.

By selectively shopping in stores where they are not an organization that engages in fast fashion. Because sometimes there are certain garments that I prefer to buy ready-made than to make it. For me that is t-shirts- I’d rather buy them than make it.

Make it yourself where it’s possible and support the organizations that don’t take part in fast fashion.

Imagine we all did that- what a great place the world would be, right? Nonetheless, let’s begin with ourselves.

3 TIPS: How to make your own clothes on a budget

#1 Lookout for remnants.

If you’re lucky to have fabric shops in your area then it’s good to be on the lookout in the remnants section for discounted leftover fabrics. Another tip is to be subscribed to Online Fabric Stores that way you’ll be one of the first people to know about upcoming offers and discounts.

#2 Use pre-loved home furnishings

Use pre-loved home furnishings fabric, beddings, curtains, etc. We all have unwanted old beddings and other furnishings in our homes so start there!

Other ways to find these furnishings are by visiting your local flea markets. One way to expand your search is to leverage FaceBook marketplace,, or eBay and, not only search for these items but post an ad for wanted items. Describe what you’re looking for and what you will pay (or not pay).

#3 Less fabric pattern choice

Make clothes that require less fabric in yards. This means if you happen to like simple silhouettes like shorts, skirts, blouses, things of that nature you only might need to buy a max fabric in about 1.5 yards.

If your style sense is simple in that you can wear simple handmade blouses with your regular jeans to pair them or your regular t-shirts to pair with your handmade skirts. This way you can achieve a minimal wardrobe by sticking to your favorite comfortable jeans or t-shirts and swapping out only the blouses or skirts to change up the look every now and then. 

BONUS: How much does it cost to make a dress from scratch

If you make a casual dress from scratch it could cost you a maximum of up to $30. That is if you stick to mid-range fabric choices. This cost is including the additional yet necessary stuff like patterns and notions such as zippers, buttons, interfacing, etc.

If you plan to make a more fancy dress “the one-off special dress” then that too has its own set of requirements like, how much fabric is required. How expensive your choice of fabric is per yard and we know, silk is mostly what makes a special dress “special” right? So with that, silk tends to have more risk involved so you’ll have the additional cost of fabric for the mockup (muslin). I would say you are looking at spending around $100. It could be less, it could be more it all depends on the fabric, style of dress plus the notions. 

Note that this answer is calculated for someone who will be doing the labor themselves or else you will have to add on additional cost for somebody else who’ll do the sewing.

Before you go, you might also want to read:

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