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Is Making Your Own Clothes Cheaper?

Is it cheaper to make your own clothes or buy them? If you're looking to save money, sewing your own clothing may not actually be the frugal option.

Updated June 21, 2023
Is Making Your Own Clothes Cheaper

Does sewing your own clothing at home save you money? Twenty to thirty years ago, the answer to this question would have been a resounding yes.

Making something on your own certainly saves you on labor costs and allows you to make a piece you are sure to love.

Chances are, however, that it is not saving you money in the long run. Nowadays clothing costs are much lower while fabric prices are starting to increase.

For some people, making your own garments might save money. For the most part, however, it will not be the frugal option. 

Trying to decide if making your own clothes will save you money? Consider the following before diving into an entirely DIY wardrobe.

Love the dress pattern in this photo? Check out the Feisty Fashionista Sleeveless Dress Pattern!

So, is making your own clothes cheaper? Or worth it? Find out below with our detailed information about making clothes including what you need, evaluating your skill levels, style and fashion desires, and more.

Plus, scroll to the end to get some free patterns and tutorials, along with resources for getting started on clothes sewing, alterations, and free sewing patterns for popular clothing items.

Sign Up For More Free Patterns >>>                        

FIRST! How To Start Making Your Own Clothes: Resources

If you are up to the challenge and want to make your own garments, we have a lot of resources and free tutorials, and patterns. To get started, check out the following helpful pages for learning the basics of clothing creation:

  1. How to Get Started Sewing Clothes - Finally, a beginner's guide to making your own clothes! Get started sewing DIY clothing today!
  2. How Do I Take Body Measurements? - A must-read if you shop online or want to start making your own clothes. Having the correct measurements is necessary.
  3. How Much Fabric Do I Need? - Find fabric yardage charts for all types of clothing projects you want to sew.
  4. How Do You Choose the Best Fabric for Skirts? - From minis to maxis and everything in between, there are a lot of questions about skirts - we have the answers.
  5. How Do You Keep Fabric from Shrinking? - If you have ever washed clothing, you know how often this question comes up. We have all the best tips to help you keep all of your clothes the same size.
  6. How to Make Your Own Lingerie - Sewing your own bras, underwear, and sleepwear can be intimidating but much more approachable after reading this resource.
  7. How Do I Start My Own Clothing Line? - Developing a brand and selling your DIY clothes can seem intimidating but these tips will help get you there.
PLUS! Make your own custom body form with this video tutorial that walks you through an inexpensive way to create a model to perfectly fit your body. Press the play button to watch the video right below.

Is Sewing Worth it? Time Measurement!

If you don't have a ton of spare time, this can really add up. Time is actually money and you should keep in mind that making a t-shirt or skirt could take you hours.

Right now, the minimum wage in the United States is $7.25. If it takes you 3 hours to make a project, that's $21.75 before you even buy the fabric, pattern, and required notions. You can easily buy a garment for that price at big box stores like Walmart, JC Penny, or Target.

What Kind of Clothes Are You Making and Buying?

This makes a huge difference in the cost of your clothing. If you are a frugal shopper and tend to buy from big box stores, clothing costs are generally far cheaper than fabric costs. Factoring in time and notions, you likely will not save money making your own clothes.

If you are buying high-end pieces of clothing from designer stores, however, making your own clothing with higher-end fabric might be the better option. Of course, this is assuming you have the skills to make these complicated, trendy patterns.

Karen from Fringe Association actually found that making her own clothes was relatively cheaper than shopping at J. Crew. Read about her sewing journey.

Who Are You Making the Clothing For?

As an adult, chances are that making your own clothes will not save you a ton of money. If you are making clothing for children, however, this might change! Generally, kid's clothing prices are rather inflated and can even cost just as much as adult pieces.

Since littler things require less fabric, you might save money if you making clothing for your kids. Plus, since they do grow out of clothing so quickly, you can get away with using cheaper fabric.

Image shown below: Little Lady Braided Dress Pattern

Image shows a girl standing on a street wearing the Little Lady Braided Dress.

Is It Hard to Sew? Evaluate Your Skill Set

Beginner sewing enthusiasts are not going to be able to sit down and make complicated pieces like blazers, formal dresses, coats, and more. If you are new to sewing, chances are your first few projects are likely to be a little less than perfect.

You will not be making store-quality items. This likely means handmade items will not hold up and stand the test of time. Plus, you likely do not want to walk into a job interview with a DIY hem that is less-than-straight. 

Expert seamstresses, however, might be able to make this system work for them. If you can sew perfectly and quickly, the time you save might make up for fabric inflation. Plus, buying quality pieces and then having them tailored is very expensive. If you can create the perfect fit for yourself, you are likely to save a ton!

Seamstresses who are able to sew professional-grade projects like the Biker Cardi below are more likely to save money when making their own clothes.

Image shows a woman standing in front of a light gray background wearing the Biker Cardi.

How To Do Your Own Clothing Alterations

What about altering existing clothing? It might be the best option in between buying all of your clothing vs making them.

Instead of buying completely new clothing or throwing out old clothes, adding some fun visible mending or repairing tears to used clothing might be your preferred route to go.

We have plenty of guides to help you master alterations at home instead of taking things to a tailor or tossing them before their time:

  1. How to Sew a Ripped Seam - Learn how to sew rips in shirts, shorts, jeans, and more with this tutorial.
  2. Visible Mending: About & Sewing Guide - If you have worn-out clothes then you need to learn about visible mending and sashiko mending!
  3. How to Let Out Pants - Learn how to alter pants to make the waist larger and extend the life of your bottoms.
  4. How to Alter a Suit Jacket - Check out this simple how-to guide on DIY suit jacket alterations, and you'll look sleek without ever paying for a tailor again!
  5. Men's Shirt to Women's Shirt Refashion - This easy t-shirt refashion will help you sew yourself a better-fitting piece of clothing in just a few minutes.

Image shows a person working on making the easy men's shirt to women's shirt refashion.

Looking for Free Clothing Patterns?

Using free sewing patterns can help you alleviate the cost of creating your own garments, check out our collection of clothing patterns! This page lists all of our clothing collections and serves as an excellent resource for how to make clothes.

Image shows a collage full of clothing patterns from the collection: How to Make Clothes.

But that's not all! Check out a few of our other popular collections of clothing patterns:

  1. 75+ Free Dress Patterns for Sewing - Find dresses for babies, kids, and women and for any season.
  2. 25+ Fabulous and Free Plus Size Sewing Patterns - Highlight your curves with this list of plus size clothing patterns that work perfectly to flatter your body.
  3. 35+ Free Skirt Sewing Patterns - We love free sewing skirt patterns. From denim refashions, twirly patterns, to patterns for women and kids.
  4. 50+ Free Girl Clothes Patterns for Sewing - Treat your little princess to a brand new wardrobe with this collection of sewing patterns for girls.
  5. 25 Free Tank Top Sewing Patterns - Here are over 20 tutorials for how to sew a tank top that'll keep you cool and stylish this summer!

Image shows a collage of dresses from the 75+ Free Dress Patterns for Sewing collection.

Want More?

How to Make Homemade Clothes
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I want to make a pastel suit ?. .

for me making my own may not at first be cheaper though i will be using old op shop stuff and using the material to make clothes first to save money at first. once i get my skills up though due to the fact that most of the time to get clothes that actually fit as they should i would need to get them tailor made it will be far cheaper. often pants that are supposed to be covering your ankle look more like 7/8 length pants and tops that go halfway down the bum on most women are almost midriff tops on me

I really enjoyed this article but would have loved even more information, like a good place to buy cheap patterns or places online to buy nice but affordable fabric. Thank you for the good read!


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