I know sewing could actually save me money. It's a basic tenet of most frugal philosophies that making is better than consuming. In theory. I could make quality clothes (and home items) for my family for way less than retail, scrounge for fabric at flea markets and swaps, repair and upcycle and alter and just generally defy the ready-to-wear retail lifestyle.
But in practice... whenever I am actually immersed in thinking about sewing and knitting, in reading all my favorite blogs and paging through Pinterest and Ravelry and picking up copies of Threads or Interweave Knits ... I start to feel like I NEED more sewing and knitting STUFF. Maybe a new presser foot for piping or bias binding. A bright floral knit in just THAT shade that I don't have in my already bulging stash drawers.
Another knitting needle set. A different weight of yarn.
A different kind of measuring tape. Striped elastic—the really soft kind!
Or maybe a bra-making kit—I could save so much MONEY by making my own bras! I just have to buy some specialty elastics... and lace... and...
I'm trying to change that, and I'm starting by listing the ways sewing HAS and HASN'T saved me money in the past. But first, I'd like to hear your experience. Please take the poll below and let me know: does sewing save YOU money?
Ways I have sewn on the CHEAP and SAVED money with sewing
- By getting my machines used/secondhand. My serger was a gift left to me by my late grandmother, and I bought my Husqvarna Viking sewing machine used (for 50% of retail) with additional money she left me. (If I hadn't lucked into an inherited machine, I could have bought a vintage used machine.)
- By swapping patterns and fabric with friends.
- By sewing from the stash and choosing projects that work with my existing fabric and existing yarn.
- By refashioning old clothes into new ones.
- By mending my family's existing clothes — fixing tears, replacing lost buttons, hemming, replacing worn linings, even darning socks.
- By altering the fit and style of old clothes to make them feel new again.
- By making awesome Halloween costumes and then selling them on eBay right before Halloween the next year.
- By making curtains and other soft household items.
Ways I have BUSTED the BUDGET and WASTED money with sewing
- By buying way too many ill-fitting items at the thrift store with "potential" and planning to upcycle/refashion them... but never getting around to it.
- By choosing sewing projects that require new fabric and can't be made from the stash.
- By acquiring way too many "inexpensive" little gadgets and notions that really add up... special presser feet, special needles, special sewing lamps, special elastic, what a special headache.
- By buying way more materials than my actual rate of sewing/knitting warrants—as much as 5 or 10 times as much as I could actually sew or knit in a given month.
- By buying new when I could have bought used with a little more effort and creativity.
- By subscribing to too many sewing magazines and buying too many sewing books and Craftsy classes (some of them unread/unwatched).
Going forward, I'm going to thing hard about all the above and work from a fixed sewing/knitting budget each month with the help of the YNAB budgeting software I mentioned previously (that sewing/knitting budget is currently $0, but I have a BIG stash, so that's hardly a hardship!).
So, take the poll and do tell in the comments: are you a frugal sewing god(dess) or a fancy sewing or knitting supplies fanatic? (And no shame, please... if you have the budget and the time to spend on a creative hobby you love, where's the guilt in that?)