That title is a controversial subject in the Sewing Community. Probably because the prevailing wisdom is that you do not save money sewing for yourself. So how did this become a thought expressed by many non-sewists.
That answer is easy, because in my generation, sewing did save you money. Sewing machines were prevalent in all households and clothing and home goods were repaired until they couldn't be. Then and only then did you venture out to purchase new. Clothing for both adults and children were altered to hand down or reuse...and since new clothing was expensive, it was cheaper to make your own instead of buying new.
Back when sewing was a part of every junior and high school curriculum and valued as a life skill, there were no H&Ms, no Century 21s, Walmart's, Amazon or any of the other current places where fast fashion is sold. You either paid hard earned money for it, made it yourself or had it made for you.
Most small towns had a local fabric store...not Walmart's. Where you went and purchased a pattern, fabric and notions to take home and make your garment. Simplicity, McCalls & Vogue were the patterns offered. Simplicity was the easiest to use and Vogue Patterns more advanced with designer offerings. As an aside, I remember how proud I was when I purchased my first Vogue Pattern and the clerk at the store asking me if I was ready. I was 17 at the time and it was Diane Von Furstenberg pattern. Back in those days, you could purchase fabric from the major department stores like Macy's and Marshall Fields...because as a young working woman I did!
For years, well into my middle age, sewing did save me money on clothing for me and my girls. Yes, I did own a sewing machine (mid-range that I saved for) and a serger (a Christmas gift from my Father), a very small stash of fabric and patterns (because 99cent pattern sales hadn't been marketed yet) and a few notions. Dayum I remember when our local fabric/craft chain, The Rag Shop, put patterns on sale 2 for $5 and you could only buy 4 at a time. I would make one purchase, go out to the car settle my stuff in and then head back in to buy 4 more. That was big savings in those days!
And Lord when I found a Fabric Mart ad in the back of a Threads Magazine which I didn't subscribe to because it was too expensive an output for a year's subscription - well at least my ex-husband thought so! So I bought them bimonthly as I could afford them. Anyway Fabric Mart had an ad for a mail subscription service where they sent you FREE fabric samples and the last page was the bargain page. Yards of quality fabric for $1 a yard. Y'all my work clothing came from those back page for YEARS!
All this to say that I understand where the thought comes from AND I do believe even now you can sew to save money. It's a lot smaller than what presently consumes our lives. We didn't own a multitude of tools and honestly you don't need to. You don't need several patterns from EVERY pattern collection that drops from the Big4 or several of the Indie patterns. You don't need thread in every hue, yards of stabilizer in every weight, a multitude of pressing tools to create beautiful garments. You don't even need a collection of fabric to sew ~ yes, I'm pointing at myself with that one.
You need the basics:
- A good medium priced sewing machine and if you can afford it a medium priced serger
- A good pair of scissors or rotary cutter
- A good cutting mat IF you go the rotary cutter route
- 1 package of good hand sewing needles
- 1 multi package of sewing machine needles
- A tape measure, seam gauge, pkg. of multi purpose pins, pin cushion, some marking tools
- A package of basic thread (the collections they sell now)
- 4 spools each of black, grey, white serger thread
- A good sewing book and access to You-Tube for other sewing videos
- A couple of yards of fabric
You can create quite comfortably this way. I did for years minus the YouTube portion. I had an Iron and Ironing board and got creative with towels and dowels (leftover from my Father's workshop) to use for pressing. I had no sewing room and kept my tools in a plastic bin (not even a sewing box because the plastic bin was cheaper) under a folding table that was put up in the corner of my dining room. Everything was stored under that table and the sewing machines were covered so they weren't noticeable. Probably why I can't bring myself to cover my machines now...but I digress.
All of this to say, that you can't sew to save money is a point of view. Like many things in the Sewing Community...it's just a point of view...whether you agree or disagree. BTW, I did write about this 11 years ago on the blog. Linking to the blog post here if you want to see a cute picture of my youngest daughter. Interesting that this is still a discussion in the sewing community, though.
So thoughts? Stories to share about how you learned to sew vs. how you sew now? Do you have a lot of tools or do you take a more sparse approach? Have you always had a sewing room? Finally do you need all the bells and whistles to create? This is the Question of the Day so talk back to me...
...as always more later!