Expensive or Not Expensive To Sew

I ran across an interesting post about the comparison between home-sewn garments compared to commercially sewn garments and pre-industrial revolution garments.  The upshot was that home-sewing is far more expensive.

You know I agree with that blanket statement.  It is FAR more expensive at first comparison to sew your own clothes than it is to go to the local cheap/fast fashion store and purchase some junk!  As well our clothes today, generally, are far more expensive than pre-industrial revolution.  But the truth is so are most commodities, fuel, food, shelter.  And just because something is cheaper, doesn’t make it better.  Heaven knows I live a much more affluent lifestyle that my fore-fathers from Ireland, and I’m the first to agree with that.

Click here for more examples of 1700 clothing

The reasoning is that most clothing back then was cut in squares and therefore very little wastage, as well as not much processing of the fiber, and even the use of different fibers – wool and linen require less processing and are therefore cheaper – or at least back then – than today’s cotton and cellulose fibers which do (and I will grant that this is a true fact), require much more processing, some of which is highly toxic.

But here’s the upshot of this post – that home sewing is so much more expensive and by that reasoning is therefore out of the realm of most folks budget.  Unless you are a hobbyist with a lot of money and time on your hands, don’t even try sewing your own clothes.

 

I think you all know me well enough to know that this has never been my experience.  But just to review…..

Fabrics that are offered to the home sewists today are far superior to the fabrics that are offered to the fast/cheap fashion industry in that part of the way the clothing manufacturer (not distributor, marketer or designer) keeps the price low is by using inferior quality fibers, and less of those fibers in the fabric.  As well as the inferior quality of workmanship, and the economical cut allowing for minimal seams, the garment’s durability and endurance is reduced substantially.  But fast/cheap fashion doesn’t care about durability – their goal is a style (whether it’s a good style is debatable).  After all the owner/creator of Zara is one of Forbes 5 richest and that’s not by luck!   Comparing the home-sewn garment of today to fast/cheap fashion is not the same thing – the home-sewn garment is so far more durable that it beats the economics and resources used to create the commercial model.

myclothes
I have been sewing my clothes for over 40 years, and started my company about 30 years ago, because I found that I didn’t need all the garments that I had time to sew for myself.  I love sewing.  That is what I like to do with my leisure time – aside from the time that I need to make up garments for my wardrobe.  So I started my company doing what I do well and what I love doing.  Even today, I have more than enough clothes, which means that if I sewed for me in my leisure time,  I wouldn’t have enough time to wear all the clothes I can make for myself.  I save that much time in sewing my durable and long-lasting clothes.

Recently (in the last 5 years), I decided to start making my own activewear – hiking and biking gear.  What drove me to this is what drove me to sewing – I couldn’t find what I wanted.   I wasn’t interested in the price or time differential, I wanted a look.   But what shocked me was the durability and quality of these clothes was so far superior to anything I could purchase including high-end boutique activewear as well as the fast/cheap fashion, big-box garments.   Here’s the kicker for me:  I thought my garments would last as long as the fast/cheap fashion stuff, but I’m on the 4th & 5th year with these garments.  My hiking pants have all the pockets and secure closures that I need, and I thought I would make two or three more pairs, but I haven’t.  I don’t need them.  The current pair has lasted beautifully, launders well, and is totally functional for me, that I don’t need 3 or 5 more pairs like I would in the fast/cheap fashion model.  This goes for my biking gear and any of the other activewear that I make.  I end up making one or two outfits and that’s all I need.  For me, this is where the economical benefit kicks in.  Yes, I’m using more expensive fabric.  Yes, the initial time, energy, resources to make up the garments is far more than the industry model.  But I beat them on price and time resources because the durability of my clothes is far greater.

So here’s the result:

1.) I have fewer clothes (yet have I more than enough to wear),
2.) I have more leisure time (which I fill sewing for my clients),
3.) I have exactly the style, shape and size I want (and it looks good, feels good and moves well on me) and
4.) I save money.

closing

2 Comments
  1. I think experienced sewers do better saving money sewing their own clothes, but it takes a while for beginners to catch on to what fabric works with what pattern and what style they will actually wear. So, a certain amount of money is wasted on those inevitable “wadders”.

  2. Chris for years I thought excellent sewing was a magical club that
    only certain people could be invited into.  Once I learned how
    to sew well, I discovered, all it is, is practice. Granted
    when you are first starting out, it’s difficult. But this is THE MOST difficult time you will have with your sewing – is when you first start. That’s a tough way to start, because it’s
    hard to see progress or that it’s worth continuing. We are
    taught that if at first we don’t succeed, give it up and go on to
    something else you can do better. Of course if you follow that
    to it’s logical and inevitable conclusion, you wouldn’t do anything
    because none of us popped out of our mama’s wombs knowing anything
    about life – we had to learn it.

    Granted it does take time to practice, but it also doesn’t mean you
    can’t start with something useful and basic, not simple, but basic,
    because something basic is always needed and because basic will get
    you into the swing of things.

    All the effort I took in learning has paid off in huge dividends –
    mostly because I get to wear what I want, but also because I’m not
    like all the other cookie-cutter fashion out there, and yet I don’t
    have to look weird or that I’m from another universe or time
    continuum!!!

    Like this picture:
    The Cookie-Cutter Look
    It’s just these sorts of looks that not only get boring, but make us
    all look like we’re stamped-out little robots, when it’s so much
    more fun to be in something that looks like us and works for us!

    I think my biggest frustration here is getting folks to take the
    first step, because it is fraught with failure and discouragement,
    but just like anything else, staying with it, does produce wonderful
    results – results that make you comfortable, beautiful, fulfilled
    and most of all pull out out of the crowd in a totally delightful
    way.

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