Making Your Own Clothes; Shortcut to Madness, or to Savings?

Of course it’s obvious that making your own clothes could save you a lot of money over the years. Fabric and sewing supplies, even considering the outlay for a decent-quality sewing machine, will cost a lot less than you pay for clothes from your local shop. Even when it comes to buying a £3 camisole from Asda, you could do it more cheaply if you bought some jersey fabric and threw one together. The question is whether learning to sew and spending your time sewing clothes is worth the amount of money you save in the long run.

The first thing to consider is that you need to buy a sewing machine. Hand-stitching is a possibility, but will make your projects take exponentially longer. Additionally, repetitive strain injuries are a possibility, and some fabrics such as stretchy knits can be hard to sew by hand, whereas a zigzag stitch on a sewing machine will make reasonably short work of it.

Good-quality sewing machines can cost upwards of two hundred pounds, easily. You may find it best to rent one for a little while as you come to grips with the process of sewing and figure out whether it is something you will realistically be doing for a few years. Only then will it become a good idea to commit to sewing your own clothes by purchasing a machine of your own. Second-hand machines are a good option, but don’t trust places like eBay. Many towns have sewing machine shops – often part of washing machine repair shops or similar – where you can be assured of the quality of the machine you’re buying, rather than relying on a seller who won’t owe you anything if the unit doesn’t work.

Hobbycraft or local market stalls or fabric shops may provide you with excellent choices in fabrics. Many people find it best to buy muslin, which costs fairly little, and make mock-ups of their clothes before moving on to expensive fabrics that will eventually be worn in public. This is an excellent way to start out as you will be able to tweak your design for your body type and won’t need to risk ruining expensive fabric over a design that may not work out.

Sewing classes are a good plan, and you should scour your local adult college or search on the internet to find some. If you are not an experienced sewer, learning from scratch is a good plan as it will teach you all the different basics from threading a needle to using the various stitches a sewing machine is capable of.

Some sewing machine shops offer lessons for people who have just purchased their first machine; inquire about his when you look at sewing machines, as they really will teach you everything you need to know. Alternatively, there are books out there for people seeking to learn all about sewing that start at the beginning and help you learn one step at a time.

Finally, don’t be over-ambitious. Trying a project that is way above your abilities will discourage you. Start with simple skirts or bags, and move your way steadily up the ladder to a higher degree of complexity.

You can save a tonne of money by sewing your own clothes, and if you take things slow and allow yourself to learn at a reasonable pace, you will be able to make all the clothes you need for a fraction of the cost. With the right supply and a helping hand, you can be an experienced sewer soon!

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