Thursday, February 16, 2006

Do you count the cost?

I have noticed that when we sewers find a great bargain on patterns, fabric, etc. we immediately compare it to ready to wear. For example, I got the fabric and pattern for $15.95 but the jacket I was knocking off sold for $155.95. Didn't I get a great bargain? Isn't it great that I sew?

See I use to be that way...comparing apples to oranges ~ when a friend told me that I wasn't doing a fair or comprehensive comparision. At first I was really annoyed, thinking who does she think she is? And I sew way more than she does, so I know what I am talking about! But you know how truth always manages to stick with you and then worm its way back to the forefront of your thoughts reminding you that it is truth!

What she told me was that all costs or everything purchased to make the garment should be counted ~ even the thread that you may already own should be counted towards the cost of your garment. That is the true worth of your garment.

So my question today you count the cost of your garment? I mean some sewers don't. Some sewers don't care. But others of us do wonder where our sewing pennies are going. So if you count the cost, what do you count? Do you count thread costs? Do you include the costs of interfacing, buttons, snaps, etc. Do you make a list of all of the supplies that you used to make that absolutely amazing garment? Y'know the one that everyone ohhhs and ahhhs over when you wear it. Or do you gloss over the cost? Or does it even matter to you?

So why am I bringing this up? Because I believe if you carefully detail the expenses that you incur in making your wonderful custom made garments, you will realize that you put not just your heart and soul into construction but your hard earned dollars. That this brings value to your garment and emphasizes it's worth!

So if you haven't been counting the cost ~ will you do so now? Is it important to you to know the true worth of your garment?


  1. I too have been considering costs to some of my sewn projects. I am working on a trench coat, Pattern: California Coat on sale $10. Fabricmart wool gaberdine 8yd @$10.00/yd
    Ambiance lining $50
    Interfacings/notions est.$40 (I bought the bolt of texture weft)
    Thread and 1 pkg needles and amazing $20.
    Hours...well we all know about the time it takes to make our creations
    This is no bargain in the making but it will fit and be a style I like... Priceless

  2. i don't count the cost. i sew more for the process than the final result. yeah, i know how much the fabric cost, etc, but i don't compare it to what i could have purchased.

  3. I sort of know. I usually know what the fabric cost, and sometimes I keep track closely, other times, not. On an "important" garment, I'm more likely to know what all the components cost. Now, my time....that I don't keep track of. It would be interesting to do so I suppose.

    I remember listening to a custom designer talk about her business once, and she said she charged her customers whenever she worked on their garment, or even if she was just thinking about it, and trying to figure something out while watching TV. That struck me as a little much, but certainly planning and problem-solving time counts too. Maybe not TV time, though!

  4. Yeah I loosely think about it. I start out with that "oh look at all I saved" thing, but I increasingly think it is not relevant. I couldn't buy clothes of the same quality I could make and there is no comparison. Time isn't an issue as I enjoy what I am doing too much and don't consider it a chore.

    I explored this more in my blog post today, more a ramble than an answer though.

  5. I am starting to think that I need to add more to my post ~ almost a justification of my thoughts ~ and then maybe not! *smile* What I was truly trying to comment on is that we should not devalue the true costs of our garments. They are worthy of their costs because they are works of art and bring joy to us ~ either through the process or the procurement of the pieces needed to complete an outfit.

  6. Roughly; I track it to keep it straight in the budget, more or less. For instance, fabric, lining, buttons,zippers, and sometimes interfacing are easy to track in a data base (2 yds 60" grey wool flannel @13.00/yd), so it's not impossible to compute a fair estimate of garment cost, although I don't add small things like snaps, thread, basting tape or Steam-a-seam. Or the cost of the pattern, since I see that as a reusable collectible. But I figured that the jacket I'm working on for my SWAP, by the time I add the cost of the fabric ($26/yd), lining (4.50/yd), interfacing (4.50/yd) and buttons ($1 each, on sale) I'll have spent about $70. Now, I could very likely find a comparible jacket for about that at Goody's or Steinmart, but it wouldn't be in this color combination (which I absolutely love) and it wouldn't fit nearly as well. I think most of us agree that saving money is not our prime motivation for sewing; it's getting that custom made garment that really matters.

    Of course, there are those times when I've made something wonderful from a serendipitous find on the Wal-Mart dollar table and can feel quite smug...but that's icing on the cake ;)

  7. when I was doing custom dressmaking, I was a fanatic about keeping track of costs....needles, thread, snaps, hooks and eyes, interfacings, etc. And of course, I also had to track my time.

    All of that spilled over into what I would sew for myself or for family. These days, I sew only for myself but the old habit is still ingrained! Julia in Houston

  8. I don't keep track, and I don't compare to RTW. I think it's comparing apples and acorns. The cost calculation should include equipment and infrastructure as well as supplies and time.

  9. I keep really close track, of everything I spend on sewing (all fabric, all notions, all equipment), but I don't calculate what each garment costs (how much thread and how many zippers went into this garment versus that one). But I have an odd attitude toward the time: since I LOVE sewing, I don't think of the time as a cost to me but as my benefit. The total money I invest in sewing is huge, though not more than many other people spend on hobbies. But the benefit is that I get something concrete out of it that is really worth something and that spares me from spending other money on clothes. How's that for rationalizing?

  10. I don't count. The journey from the moment my creative juices start the moment I find that perfect pattern and's all priceless. The final product is the icing on the cake.

    Now I do compare to RTW. But not the price. I look for soul in the garment. Rarely do I find it. Yet evey piece I make is totally full of soul.

    Plus sewing is therapy for me. Not that I need not that I need therapy but if I did, sewing is so much cheaper, lol.


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