Can Sewing Help Your Budget?

Have you ever thought about sewing as a way to help out your budget?  I have first hand experience about the benefits of sewing that can give you some insight.

First of all, I don’t sew myself, but I bought a sewing / embroidery machine for my wife about five years ago.  She asked for one and was interested in learning how to sew, as her Mom used to sew her clothes and she thought it might be a good hobby.  When we got the machine, it was too complicated for her to thread on her own, so the two of us sat down and learned how to get started on it.  It took her a few months to get things going, but she learned quickly and became pretty good at sewing.

At the time we got the sewing machine, we had just had our first baby, so the obvious first projects were baby blankets.  The first baby blankets looked good if you didn’t pay much attention to the detail, but with each blanket they got better.  Soon, bindings were being added and, for $20, she could make a blanket that sold in a department store or online for around $60.  Of course, my wife didn’t feel like she should sell them, but she did start making them for other friends.  Within a few months, friends of friends’ were offering to buy them, as they had become quite popular.  It’s amazing what word of mouth can do.  For the next five years, my wife has pretty much had outstanding orders for baby blankets.  While she never charges much more than the materials cost, people are definitely willing to pay store prices or higher for something homemade.

Homemade Summer Dress

A Dress My Wife Made - We Dont Have a Girl.

Since then, my wife has branched out into lots of other projects such as pajamas, toddler dresses, baby toys, curtains, tablecloths, stuffed animals, pillows and lots more items or one time projects that she finds interesting.  While my wife does this mostly for the enjoyment of giving, the money she makes pays for her materials plus a little extra to help fund the next problem.  In no way does it cover all of her sewing related purchases, but it could if she wanted it to.  That brings me to the topic of this post.  Can you make money sewing?  Or at least reduce your expenses and help your budget by making things for yourself?  Here’s my take:

Can Sewing Help Your Budget?

Is sewing a good way to save money?  Well, I’m guessing that it could be.  If you are efficient and buy low cost fabric using coupons.  However, if you really want to save money by sewing, you’ll have to be pragmatic.  For example, buying a children’s shirt at a store like Gymboree or Target usually costs less than $10.  Buying just fabric and thread for a similar project could cost at least that.  If you throw in the cost of a design and part of the cost of your sewing machine, shears, cutting boards, ironing equipment and similar costs, you could be looking at a shirt that costs two to three times more than one you can buy off the shelves. If you appreciate homemade stuff, then it’s probably worth it, but it probably doesn’t save you money.

If, on the other hand, you check out a library book about how to make curtains, buy fabric from the clearance aisle using a coupon, and make the curtains yourself.  You could easily save a hundred or more dollars per room.  It all depends on how resourceful you are.  It’s similar to other types of budgets.  For example, you can go out to dinner and spend $40 for two to eat a nice Italian dinner.  Instead, you could go to Whole Foods and buy organic pasta, fresh vegetables, and fresh mozzerella cheese to make the same meal at home.  It may actually cost more to make the meal at home, because of all the expensive ingredients.  To the same extent, you could go to Aldi’s and buy pasta, sauce, vegetables, cheese and salad for probably 25% of the cost of dining out.  It’s all in whether or not you’re trying to save money.

When it comes to sewing it’s the same way.  Certain projects can save you a lot of money, especially if you plan them to save you money.  Other projects can actually cost you more and can take a lot of time to complete.  Luckily, sewing is more than just a way to save, it’s also a hobby that many people get a lot of satisfaction and enjoyment in doing.

Can You Make Money Sewing?

For those interested in selling their sewing projects, there are lots of ways to make money.  For example, you can make items and sell them on etsy or some other online store front.  You could also sell them to local boutiques or even at flea markets.  The best way to find customers though is to get word of mouth.  If people like what you make, they will refer many others, and you won’t have to worry about building your business as much as about how much time you’ll have to finish your orders.

There is definitely money to be made by sewing, but I don’t making things to sell is a way to get rich.  It is more like a way to get paid for some of your work.  I’m guessing that once you pay for material costs and the wear and tear on your equipment, you can probably make about $5 to $20 per hour depending on the stuff you sell and how efficient you are at making the stuff.  The more customized, the more you can generally sell things for.  For example, a simple embroidered name on a blanket can nearly double the price.

If you’re looking to make money by sewing you can also sell your services.  Check with local drapery and dry cleaners to see if they need help doing custom orders or repairing their customers clothing.  In other words, you could use your sewing prowess to start your own alterations business, if that’s what you’re good at.  Asking if you can make money sewing is kind of like asking if you can make money writing.  You can, but it depends on what you write and who you write it for.  Most people don’t sew to make money, but it is a good way to help finance your hobby.

What Others are Saying About Sewing and Money

For most of our topics, we search around on other blogs to see what others think about the same topic.  Here is what we found on sewing for money.

Trent Hamm at Christian Science Monitor wrote that you can easily save money sewing by simply learning how to do your own repairs.  Here is an excerpt from his article:

The best place to start is by learning a few basic techniques, particularly how to thread a needle.

Once you have those very basic things down, all you have to do is Google for the project you want to tackle. There are great visual guides for sewing on a button and even more complicated things like hemming a pair of pants.

What does this have to do with saving money? Ask yourself this. Which is more expensive: a sewing needle and a bit of thread or a new shirt? That’s the advantage of having basic sewing skills. You no longer have to stop wearing clothes because of minor damage. You can fix them yourself, quickly and easily.

Read the full post at Save money with basic sewing skills.

Jennifer, at Survival Insight, had the following to say about making money with your sewing machine:

If you have a passion or a talent for sewing, why not begin using your  sewing machine to make money. There are several promising ways of making  money by sewing things, especially if sewing is something that you love  to do and something that you are good.

Consider the demand for sewing. Most people can’t sew, and if they  cannot sew then they can only purchase what is available. As everyone’s  size and shape is different, many people need their clothing to be  custom fit. The same thing is true about home decor. There are so many  different ways to turn your talent into profit. Here are some different  ways to make money with a sewing machine

The rest of this article, which can be found here, goes on to say that you can make money doing alterations, sewing uniforms, selling at arts and crafts stores, and even by opening your own bridal shop.

Let’s face it, sewing and money is a much bigger topic than we can address here, but it is clear that there are many ways, that if used right, a sewing machine can help add to your bottom line.

Have any good sewing related ideas?  Leave us a comment.

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • kjscrafts May 7, 2012, 3:37 pm

    Yeah, sewing ends up typically being more expensive for me than just buying a finished product. Mainly, because I tend to not like what is on clearance and such. However, sewing certainly saves me money when I can repair holes in stuff.

    Reply
  • AlwaysAMama May 15, 2012, 11:18 pm

    Sewing can save money! I have seen some great projects made out of clothing or other fabrics from the thrift store. T-shirts can make great toddler pants or shorts. You just have to be creative and thrifty. I also think there is a good market for selling homemade items, just check out etsy.com!

    Reply
  • sundcarrie May 24, 2012, 9:32 pm

    I think this really depends on what you are sewing. I saved money on curtains considering I got my sewing machine as a Christmas present and I found fabric very cheap. I also made a few skirts that were similar to something you would see at Hot Topic for around $40 dollars that only cost me about $20 to make. You also have to factor in your time and how much you like sewing. I don’t love it and I get in the fabric store and can’t control myself. I can think of a million things I want to do and then when I get home I don’t have the stuff to finish any of them. I just get in trouble when I go there.

    Reply
  • Sewing Patterns December 18, 2012, 2:35 pm

    Great information!

    I strongly agree that sewing can help your budget. As long as you know how to do your own clothes or fix old clothes its way too good to save a lot!

    Reply
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