Will dressmaking save me money?

Dressmaking is going through a revival, and it could be because we’re all keen to save money on clothes. So can a DIY wardrobe actually save you money?

DIY v high street prices…

Big high street clothing chains buy their fabric, equipment and labour very cheaply – too cheaply in some cases. Expect your fabric to cost about the same as the finished garment would in Primark. Your version’ll be awesome in comparison, obviously – but if you usually shop in budget chains then DIY won’t be cheaper overall.

If you usually pay a bit more, then you can definitely make clothes that you’ll like more and that fit you better for less than you pay in the shops.

How can I cut costs?

There are lots of things you can do to bring the costs down. Here are my top 5 suggestions:

1. Upcycle. Root through your existing wardrobe, your stash household linen, and those of your family and friends. Try charity shops too. If you can find a garment you could alter, or a piece of fabric that’s big enough to cut something new you could convert it into something you love. Even if you hate the material, could you re-use the buttons or the zip?

2. Repeat yourself. Once you’ve got a pattern you love that fits, get your money’s worth by making it up in several different fabrics. If you’re making for a child, buy a multi-size pattern and make bigger versions of the same garment as they grow.

3. If you’re buying fabric, shop around. Try your local market, or head for your nearest city and investigate specialist fabric stores away from the main drag. It’s also worth a dig around your local charity shop – some occasionally have dressmaking fabric, or items like bed linen and curtains that could be adapted into clothes – depending on your taste!

4. Blag equipment. Let your family and friends know that you’re taking up dressmaking and see if you can have or borrow any kit for free. You’d be amazed at how many people have an unused sewing machine lurking in the loft, or a bag of haberdashery they don’t want. Ebay, gumtree and preloved are worth a look too, but check the prices carefully. Start with the bare minimum and work out what else you’ll use as you go along.

5. Be different. There’s a whole swathe of people out there looking for vintage 1950s dress patterns, so prices are rocketing. Try something else – maybe you’d love some well-fitting trousers for work, or a shirt that doesn’t pull across the chest. You can even draft your own patterns if you can’t find what you want.

Where shouldn’t I scrimp?

There’s some stuff you shouldn’t skimp on. You need a good quality pair of fabric scissors and cheap thread isn’t usually good value – it snaps in the machine and your seams come apart.

What tips would you give to a sewer on a budget?

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