In an effort to find the true cost of clothes, from economical to emotional, I sewed in the penny pinching fashion.
“Sewing is a really expensive hobby,” used to be my response to anyone who commented on the subject. But is this true? Must we have a special shopping trip for every project?
If there’s anything I’ve learned in the last year it’s that sewing does not have to be this perfect mechanical process. It can be fun and more importantly it can be cheap!
Method 1: Discount Store
Cost Supplies $0.50
Time 2 Hours
Political Very Shady
Emotional Disappointed but inspired to try it again
Designing: I found a lonely yard of purple floral at Wal-Mart for $0.50. I couldn’t believe my eyes and almost burst from joy that new fabric could be this inexpensive; never mind the print is not my favorite or the feel is very stiff, almost brittle, to the touch. I went online right away to find a wallet friendly tutorial and like magic a free pattern popped onto my screen without even touching the keyboard…it wass meant to be!
Execution: This Carolina Dress pattern is just adorable, from Schwinn&Schwinn, and I printed it right away trying to make sure all the settings were accurate. Somewhere along the way I thought the pattern looked a bit small, but I quickly denied it since everything was cut out and I kept sewing. It turns out it is small, the final product measures around 6 months. Oh well, there is always Christmas gifts. I’ll definitely be tying the same style on another outfit soon, but perhaps I’ll have a tape measure and measurements on hand next time.
Result: Material at a discount store can be incredibly inexpensive, but also poor quality. Obviously cheap labor is used (horrible images came to my mind), so I did some casual research and was surprised to find China’s minimum wages are on the rise (still at a low $300.00 usd monthly in Beijing) and because of this and a few other factors, many textile companies have moved off to other countries where factory work can be easily and quickly set up at lower costs. Basically the problem isn’t solved, just relocating and “Made In China” is no longer the bottom rung. Of course there are other ways to shop such as thrift stores, swap meets, or trading with friends.
For less than a dollar it was worth a try. The dress is still adorable despite everything.
Method 2: Up-Cycle
Cost Supplies Free
Time 1 ½ hours
Political Gold Star
Designing: I had an old sweater in my closet that was sacrificed to the ‘Baby Needs Pants’ fund. Knits are great because they are very forgiving on a sewer’s skills. Given the previous project’s results I decided to draft my own pattern from a pair of pants that she has just outgrown.
Execution: I folded and traced around an old pair of pajama bottoms, giving an extra 1 ½ inches birth. There was just barely enough sweater material for the pattern I made, but it worked and it was quick to sew up. A small pocket was positioned on the back of the pants and I love how this random detail worked out.
Result: I love these pants! They fit perfect, even over the giant cloth diaper. I’m so glad I made a template because I will be making half a dozen more for the winter. Up-cycling is wonderful for kids clothes since not very much material is needed and it’s a great way to give a favorite garment new life. It’s best to use articles with simple lines, few seams, and no darts or yokes. And don’t forget sheets, blankets, or anything else around the house.
Overall penny pinching can be a gamble, but there’s no harm in trying!!!