here's the deal. if you're thinking of learning to sew to save money on clothes for you or your kids, it might not best the best idea. well, i mean, it can be if you really enjoy the process and don't consider the time spent a sacrifice, but there are some financial rabbit holes you can fall into along the way that make your items much more costly in the end than something store bought.
because even if you have all the equipment (machine, thread, needles, etc.) for basic sewing, you are potentially going to need to plunk down more money for each new project. and you just aren't going to be able to beat the prices that Wal-Mart gets for their labor and materials, and sometimes the frustration isn't worth the effort when you could have just gotten the garanimals version for $3
but don't despair, because you can still make it happen, and with much more style than anything Sir Wally has to offer. here's an example.
raechel, from finding my feet (FAVORITE!) turned me on to this etsy seller: heidi & finn. they make their own patterns for adorable kids' clothing. i fell in love with the unisex hoodie and really wanted to buy the pattern. patterns for cute non-duggar-looking-wear (LOVE me some duggars, but spare me the modesty-swimwear and floor-length denim skirts) can tend to get pricey (think 10-15 bucks). so finding a reasonable pattern-maker that fits your style is task #1. heidi and finn have really great prices for their awesomely chic and preppy kiddie styles.
but still $6 is a fair hunk of money to this gal just to spend on know-how (that's 2 spicy chicken sandwiches from chik-fil-a!), especially when i get sweatshirts perfectly-made from old navy on clearance for less. and you don't always have the recommendation of another trusted sewer to go on and you could get a pattern that has mistakes or is hard to follow. but there was a B2G1 free promotion for raechel's readers so i was able to get 3 patterns for $12. i figured $4 per pattern was a decent price and raechel had vouched for the ease-of-use of this seller. not bad.
i only picked patterns for pieces that i would want to make multiple times so that the cost per pattern per item made will sink even lower as i reuse the pattern to make the piece again and again in different styles and sizes ( i believe that's known as amortization, my financial BFF would have to let me know). first to be tested:
adorable, right? they are unisex and can be made in any color or fabric i like and they include sizes from 6 mos up to 5T.
but then there's the fabric. since this one was a hoodie i wanted actual sweatshirt material because it's just the snuggliest. um, hi, that crap costs $13 per yard at joann and i needed 1-2 yards. now we are getting out of my range of willingness to pay $30 for the materials for a piece of clothing before i have even put in the hours of labor. not worth it to me just to be able to give my kids something handmade.
ah, but enter the ubiquitous thrift store.
i stopped by my local one (not a chain, just a hole in the wall place run by a bunch of rich old white ladies who donate all the money to domestic abuse victims in our area). i was totally bummed to not find a scrap of sweatshirt in the joint. then i realized it was summer and they probably wouldn't be putting that stuff on display right now. so i asked behind the counter if they could look through their winter stash for an XL men's sweatshirt in a mostly solid color, preferably grey.
hells to the yes-o. the price: $2 for all the material i would need! when she asked if i was travelling to a colder climate (ha), i told the lady what i was using it for (hello, being green by upcycling AND contributing to a good cause) and she tried to talk me out of cutting it up and instead recommended letting my husband wear it as-is because it was so sharp looking.
i washed the sweatshirt (what is it about thrift stores that makes all the clothes end up with that exact same thrift-store smell? is that the average of the general population's personal essences when you mix them all up in one place?) and cut out the worn trim and the logo to get raw sweatshirt fleece fabric. and after a good 5 hours of work, plus some waffle-textured material that was just sitting untouched in my stash (i had had delusions of making a thermal shirt for jesse long ago) here's what the bug will be rocking come fall and winter:
a waffle-lined, totally boyish, goes-with everything, asymmetrical button-closure hoodie!
a little boy in a little hood.
getting flown by grandaddy while modelling
so the final price for this handmade by mom little hoodie was:
-$2 for the sweatshirt material
-$4 for the pattern (which will go down to $2 if i make just one more)
-$.90 for the buttons
-negligible pennies for the thread
-$0 for the hours of labor because i love sewing for our family
-and $0 for the thermal fabric because i bought it last october on sale and never would have used it for anything else. if i didn't have it i would have used material from an old t-shirt
TOTAL = $6.90!
so i tried to consider if i saw this at gap or somewhere for that price if i would buy it (and i actually think something like this would cost about $35 in a store). hmmm, i am still not sure. i mean, i love it and it is just my style and the colors are perfect for me and it really is well made and high-quality due to the thermal lining, but i am seriously cheap, yall! but although i might not jump to buy it at gap for the same cost, the fact that I made it for judah using my hands and my brains really does make it something special and adds a value to it that is not just hanging around on the rack at babygap.
bring on the cold weather! we're looking good and warm. isn't he just one squillion percent snuggleable?