Apr 5, 2010

Skills That Save - Part 2 (Merrick)

When I was eleven or twelve, my mom signed me up for sewing lessons. My mom is a good seamstress but didn’t feel like she had the ability to teach all of us on her own. Although I wouldn’t say sewing was a great passion of mine, I enjoyed taking lessons for a few years, made many fun things for myself, liked bragging that I had made a clothing item when someone commented on it, and most of all developed a great skill that has saved me money throughout my life.

So today I want to tell you, and show you, how you can save money by learning to sew.

I think clothing is the biggest area wherein I’ve saved. Whether it’s being able to patch my husband’s dress pants when he puts a hole in them, making a few fabric flowers to spruce up a boring t-shirt, or buying a $3 extra large skirt and being able to make it my size, these are all areas I’ve been able to use my sewing skills to save money. Similarly, my mom has mentioned many times over the years that when they were on a tight budget, she was still able to update the house with new curtains or pillows, or make herself a new dress or her children new swimsuits, all because she could buy cheap fabric and knew how to sew.

Although the idea of sewing may be daunting, it’s really not as hard as you may think. Knowing how to operate your sewing machine, being able to read a pattern, and then practicing your sewing skills is really all you need to be on your way to saving money.

Here are a few good sources of inspiration to show you that it’s possible to save by sewing, and it’s not that hard:

Marisa of “New Dress A Day” buys $1 items at flea markets and garage sales, and then with a few cuts and a few seams, she turns them into adorable clothing items. Really, the level of sewing required for most of items she transforms is pretty simple – again, it’s just knowing how to use your machine and then practicing so you get better.

My Aunt Miriam recently blogged about making a dress for her daughter from an old skirt of hers. If you look at the photo in this post, it’s a simple dress that probably required very little sewing, but turned out very cute and was completely free.

Make It and Love It is another blog I look at frequently. She is all about repurposing clothing – anything from shoes, to mens shirts, to her children's clothing, and usually spends little to no money on these updates. And the best part is, she has tutorials for many of the items she makes.

Even with a basic knowledge of sewing, which is fairly easy to acquire, this skill will help you save money. By updating old clothing with cute embellishments, sewing a simple seam to make a shirt fit better, putting a patch in worn out pants, or making $10 curtains, you can and will save a ton of money in the long run.


Unknown said...

Thanks for these great ideas! A New Dress a Day blew my mind. It helps that Marisa is adorable even a mumu, but she really demonstrates how to make some things you'd never think of wearing work!

TheMoncurs said...

My 19 year old brother just gave me a huge stack of his old clothing, the vast majority of which is going to get refashioned into baby and toddler clothes. I just used this tutorial-


-to make Wes a pair of slacks from Jared's old ones. It is so so satisfying to have him wear FREE slacks that I made.

The Liddells said...

I've always wanted to sew, but never really known how. I do own a sewing machine, but it just sits there. I'm going to have to take lessons somewhere.

Packrat said...

I think I've mentioned before that I've saved the most by sewing formal dresses. Another money saver is making your own short little skirts and shorts.

In the past few years, finding decent clothing fabric has been a real challenge. It also tends to be very expensive compared to what can be purchased ready-made. (I haven't had the "guts" to order online.) I have cut the cost some by taking advantage of discount coupons and waiting for sales.

Learning to alter (size) a pattern or a piece of clothing is probably one of the most important parts of sewing. If you make a gorgeous outfit, but it doesn't fit right, you've wasted your time and money.

Carly said...

I'm still in this process. I've been sewing for about two years and do lots of "little" projects... but not a lot of clothes. Zippers scare me, frankly. I should just buy a few patterns and cheap walmart fabric and give it a whirl. I'm a definite believer in just jumping in!

Sharlynn R. Heinitz said...

Oh I miss taking sewing lessons with you and Michelle, we had so much fun! And what a great skill it was to learn. My sister-in-law is really good at making great things on a tight budget. She's a homemaker of two kids and her husband is currently getting his PhD; so needless to say, they've been on a student budget for quite a while. Check out her site sometime... she's got a lot of fun recipes, decoration, and sewing ideas.

Laura said...

I am enjoying this blog, this post, and the resulting comments! I have made baby dresses from my grandmother's old house coats. How precious those are!! Also have made many formal dresses for family members. You can't beat the savings on those! Thanks so much for posting!