The Savvy Sage of Sewing Stimulation

To Rent or To Sew

There’s a site now where you can rent a dress – say you have a special occasion coming up and you want something, but only for that event and you’d never wear it again.  Or say you need something fabulous, you might wear it again, but you aren’t sure.

The  most important thing is that you want to look good and you have a budget or you just don’t think that it’s worth a gob of money right now… here are some choices for you!


Here’s a Lela Rose (these photos are linked but also you can right click and view image which is a lot larger than shown here so you can see the detail in these dresses).  This one rents for $225.  Now, pick up your jaw and get back on your chair, cause you can make this for at the most $125 or $150 – and have it for 10 years and wear it every day if you want.  I know, you’re thinking – Claire, I don’t sew that well.  Well, you’re right if you want to sew this up immediately or in the next two days.

But if you take your time, this might take 3 or 4 days at the most.  Or you can block this time out.  It will take this long if you’re just very new to all this. If you’re a quilter or have been sewing for a while, it will most likely take half that (or less) time.

But let’s move on…’s a Matthew Williamson design:

This one is only $200.  Remember you may not fit in this one as well as you would something that you sew.  And this one is beaded, which you can do or don’t have to.  I love doing overlays of beaded lace on a print like this – like overlays of beaded black lace – in medallions spaced here and there on the dress.

This blue dress is from Preen and only $200 to rent for once or twice.  When you could easily have this for $150 for many years of enjoyment.  Something like this is classic and works well for not only the special event, but for other events – church, professional dinners/meetings, dinner parties and any number of occasions where you need a dress-up look.

Thinking that you haven’t got the time to sew these outfits is pure folly.  Taking into consideration how much time it would take to shop for these outfits is one thing.  But renting an outfit to wear for a limited time when you could easily have this for a life time at less than the rented price is just plain goofy.

Finally, at least knowing how to sew brings a whole cadre of knowledge that after you know how to sew dresses like these that you are a much savvier shopper.  But here’s the big secret:  after you learn how to sew, you don’t want to wear the fast fashion again.  You look so much better and the outfit will last for so much longer.

Do yourself a favor and at least try to sew and learn what sewing is about so that you can purchase wisely.  But I have to warn you – after you know how to sew, you’re not going to want to stop!!



  1. While I do agree with much of what you’ve written, finding amazing fabric well-suited to a design is not so easy. Designers have done that work for us, and while we can use their designs as “inspiration pieces”, its a rarity for a home sewn garment to match the style and quality of a fine designer piece.

    • Cris – thanks for your comment…I do agree that everything that is sewn, particularly by newbies is not high quality. That said, this is the kind of work I do every day for my clients. I do search (and often have to get my fabrics from London, Paris and Milan) to find that quality of fabric and expect that work from myself as that was the style of sewing I was taught. The fit and quality of the garment is just as fine as the designer piece and I have had the original designer(s) tell me so.

      Unfortunately today so much of the “designer” clothes are made at those infamous factories in other countries and the quality suffers. It’s a rarity that I see a garment made with that high quality that used to be a standard with designer clothes. In the olden days a designer garment would have been made domestically, and it would have been very high quality components. Both (techniques and components) now both suffer in the constant pressure to make the garment cheaper and cheaper. This unfortunately includes many designer RTW garments. In doing the alterations to many of these garments, I’m shocked at the poor quality of not only the construction, but also the fabric and components.

      With just the modicum of care, time and effort in constructing a garment, it’s very easy to end up with a garment that is far better than what RTW offers.

      • I do think we are equally minded on this matter! Many folks think of “designer” as what I consider RTW, and there is a definite difference. Its a sorry shame the fabric choices “designer” RTW often use. Thank you for clarifying your points. I look forward to learning more from your blog 🙂

  2. As another person mentioned, finding fabric I want to buy is often challenging, so I spend time shopping, just not for RTW, but for fabric. It’s fun, though!

  3. So exciting to sew something new and challenging! Im about to tackle
    boning in formal dress— and lace sleeves. Cant wait to shop for
    fabric! I will wear at least twice! Thanks for your inspirin site!

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