Sunday, January 4, 2009

To Go Cheap or Not to Go Cheap? That is the Question.

I rediscovered an Ottobre yahoo group recently that I subscribed to long ago. All of the messages were going to my yahoo mail that I never check and boy have I been missing out. I set it to go to my regular email and now I will be able to keep up. This is not the reason for this post though.

One member of this group posed a question to the others. She wanted to know an average price for making different garments and if it was possible to sew for less than you can purchase clothing a stores such as Target or Children's Place. The discussion got quite interesting with people sharing why they sew and what quality fabric they use. Some members sew to save money and strive to make garments for the least amount of money possible. Other members bought the fabrics they loved regardless of price because they wanted to make one of a kind outfits. There was also many responses in between.

I thought this was a very timely question. Something I have been pondering lately. When I began sewing 8 years ago I couldn't wait for JoAnn's 50% off clearance fabric sales. I loved getting fabric for $2 and $3 a yard or even less. I could make outfits so cheaply. I did quite a bit of sewing with this type of fabric. I didn't even go to the independent fabric store because I couldn't imagine paying those prices.

After a while I started going in to our local fabric stores and would find fabrics I really liked that were on sale. I bought a few cottons for $5 and $6 a yard. Thus began my love for high quality cotton fabric. I noticed immediately how nicely it sewed up. It would press beautifully. It didn't come out of the dryer a wrinkled mess.

Then I decided to make a wool skirt for myself. I wanted nice fabric so I went to my local store and purchased some nice wool. It was a delight to sew and I loved the result. My love for nice fabric was just beginning. I still couldn't bring myself to pay a lot for fabric on a regular basis so I worked on finding good deals when I could. I would go to Denver Fabrics Annex when I could. I stocked up on some nice fabrics when I went to the Sewing Expo in Washington and found some for good prices. I would get cottons twice a year when the quilt stores had their sale day or get it from their clearance bin. All the while I continued getting cheaper stuff also.

Now in my stash I have an assortment of a few nice fabrics, some decent fabrics, and quite a few cheap fabric choices. Every time I sew with my cheaper stuff I have great difficulty. It just doesn't sew up as well. It doesn't make sewing fun for me. It just becomes frustrating and the results are often not exactly what I would like. Take for instance the three polka dot dresses I just made. I purchased the fabric from JoAnn's. It wasn't clearance fabric. It was their regular stuff for about $6 a yard which I got on sale. This was fairly decent fabric. It sewed up alright but when I finished they just didn't have the crisp look I was going for. It just seemed like the fabric was never completely pressed. While these dresses are cute I wish I would have purchased nicer fabric. I would have gotten the result I really wanted.

I just made two garments from fabric I purchased at the Denver Fabrics Annex and from Michael Levine's Loft-nice fabric at less expensive prices. I was very pleased with how both sewed up. One of the garments was a knit. My knit experiences to this point have been less than great. Recently I made a knit shirt for my daughter. The shirt material was from Michael Levine's Loft and it was fairly nice to work with. It needed contrast and binding fabric and so I purchased some from Joann's. I had great difficulty with this fabric but it just might have been because it didn't have as much stretch as I needed. With the garment I just made I also needed fabric for binding. This time I got it from my local store. It was a little more expensive but it was a joy to work with.

So, through this fabric journey I have learned a few things. Sewing is much more fun when I use nice fabric. Nice fabric might cost a bit more but in the long run it is worth the extra expense. I am happier with the result and am more likely to wear (or encourage my daughter to wear) the garments that I make. Using nice fabric just makes sewing more fun.

As a result of this ponderings I have made it one of my goals to purchase more quality fabrics for my stash this year. Now, I still have a very frugal side so this will be a challenge but one I think I am up for. It is just going to take some savvy shopping.

In answer to the question on the Ottobre group how much I spend on fabric. I guess that would depend on the project. I might try not to spend very much on something that I know is not going to last long (like shorts for my children for a short Alaskan summer). But, I will not skimp on something I want to last a while. I have to remember that the garments I make could not be purchased at cheaper clothing stores. They would be found at the more expensive botiques. So if I spend $20-$25 (I usually spend lots less on nice stuff) on fabric for an outfit I am saving a lot of money compared to the expensive stores where I would like to purchase clothing.

I know that many of you already have come to these conclusions about purchasing nicer fabric. This has been a process for me. Actually this is kind of funny because I figured this out a long time ago with purchasing yarn for knitting. I simply cannot bring myself to purchase cheap yarn. I figure that if I am going to put hours and hours into something I am going to use the good stuff.

Wow! This is a long post. I will leave you with a picture of a typical activity at my house. Thank you so much for reading. Have a great day!

Until next time...

1 comment:

  1. I'm a fabric enabler, so I say go for the expensive "treat" deserve it and it's still a bargain!


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