Sewing to Save: How to Use Your Sewing Skills to Save Money

October 20, 2023
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We all know there are ways to save money ON sewing, but in this article I'm talking about how to use your sewing skills to SAVE money. As sewists, we pride ourselves on our ability to buy basic and embellish or make a $200 knock off for $20. But is there a way to save on real life expenses by using your set of sewing skills? YES!

Make Your Clothing Last Longer:

These days you can find ready-made children's clothing for super cheap at any Wal-Mart or even thrift stores. After you account for sewing time, supplies used, and wear/tear on supplies, and electricity those $10 toddler pants really are less expensive than the $5 you spent on fabric. However, there are a few things you can do to make the clothing last longer. Most children's clothing have elastic adjustments on the inside of trousers/jeans or elastic waistbands. So, the problem of growth really is more about height. Instead of tossing too short pants, cut and hem them into summer shorts. That way you can extend the use by 6 months! Same with long sleeve shirts. Cut and hem shirts into short sleeves or tank tops.

I always hear people say clothing isn't made well anymore. And I have to agree. Rarely do I find affordable clothing that doesn't start falling apart within a few months. That's the trade off - Inexpensive generally means lower quality. But you are a sewists! When you bring home inexpensive clothing, head straight to the sewing machine and reinforce the seams! I guarantee the hems and seams will actually last! No more trip back to buy the exact same shirt.

Make Your Own Clothing Efficiently

The key to actually saving money making clothing is all about efficiency and simplicity. If you have expensive taste, you'll save money making any style of clothing. But if you buy whatever is cheapest anyways, you can still save a little money sewing. You want to have an assembly line kind of strategy. Use an easy pattern that you know how to construct. For example, for women/girls, choose simple pull over, knit blouse - No buttons or zippers. Yoga pants and dresses/skirts are your best friends. Heck, go retro and make jumpers! For men/boys, knit t-shirts and athletic pants/shorts or pants with elastic waists. Boys looks especially adorable in Jon-Jons and they are very easy to make!

Make one muslin mock up for size and make adjustments as needed. Then, cut out batches of patterns. When I make my son pants, I cut out 6 pants at once from different fabric. Then, I will cut out 6 shirt patterns. The goal is to get all of your cutting done in one day. Then spend the next day doing all of the sewing. In 2 days, you can have at least 6 new outfits! Depending on how cheap the fabric and elastic was, you saved yourself a TON of money!

Do Your Own Alterations:

Hemming your own pants and skirts is a no-brainer. But what about taking in? Letting out? Darts? If you know how to do these kinds of alterations, you can buy cheaper clothes and make them look like a million bucks with proper fit. Although alterations may seem a bit intimidating, once you get a few practices in, you'll be able to perfectly fit for your body. There are tons of books, videos, and tutorials on alterations. Check out Sew For Dough blog for expert alteration how-tos. She does alterations for a living and posts articles for each technique. Learning and practicing alterations is an especially useful tool in today's world. Bridal shops are always looks for seamstresses. If you ever want to make extra money, chances are they need your skills. Not to mention, alterations are expensive. If you have a wedding to go to, hemming your own ready-made dress will save you about $40!

Sewing Your Basic Needs:

We all need a few basic accessories: Scarves, hats, mittens, towels, warm blankets. These easy and quick projects can be cheaper to make than buy. Sure, you can buy a blanket for $5, but if it needs to be replaced again in 2 months, are you really saving money? Nope! However, you can find super cheap clearance fabric and sew a warm, durable blanket in 10 minutes that will last years. Same with scarves and mittens. For example, I wanted to buy my son a new fleece hat. They were $15. But I can make a similar hat in 30 minutes out of 1/3 yard of fleece. Sweet! The key is to cut costs as much as possible by taking advantage of clearance fabric/notions or thrift store fabric. Then, choose a project that takes the least amount of time and can be manipulated in the future for growth (if need be). For instance, baby diapers are expensive! Using cloth diapers would save a TON of money, but quality, leak proof diapers are also pretty expensive. However, because of the growing popularity of cloth diapers, fabric stores carry fabric specifically for cloth diapers. Making your own is WAY less expensive and can be done very quickly. Best part? You don't even need to buy the pattern! There are free patterns all over the web!

I have also found that kitchen towels (for actual clean up) and napkins last longer and are cheaper in the long run. Yes, terry cloth is expensive, but Birdseye cloth baby diapers are cheap! You can find a 10 pack online for a little over $12. Sandwich 2 pieces together, sew, and you've got 5 durable, absorbent, reusable kitchen towels that will last YEARS! Want style? No problem! Add cute binding or fun cotton patches and appliqué!

Re-engineer Into Gifts

In a time when there is a Hallmark card for everything, it seems we are expected to give gifts more often. As much fun as it is to give to others, it can wreck havoc on the budget. Well, not anymore. Have a hole? A stain that won't come out? Take the parts that are salvageable and turn it into a gift-able artwork! Recycling and re-purposing are a huge trend these days. Take advantage of that! For instance, my husband has a bunch of shirts that have holes and stains. For some reason, he is emotionally attached to his t-shirts. I'm not about to throw them away because I can cut off the sleeves, open up the fabric, and make it into his Christmas present - A t-shirt quilt! A present that he will actually like and all I had to purchase was the batting. Old t-shirts can be made into pretty much anything with a little help from Pinterest. You can make custom scarves, rugs, bowls - you get the idea. Instead of spending $25 on a gift certificate, make them something for $5.


In this day and age, we are all try to stretch our dollar. But even when you don't have a dollar, you can use your sewing skills to barter. For instance, instead of paying $15 an hour for a babysitter, trade skills. For instance, "I'll hem 3 pair of pants for 5 hours of babysitting". Not too shabby! Need a better example? If you have ever watched the show Shark Tank, you might remember Lori Greiner, the woman who invented ShowNo swim towels. Her family was going through a rough patch financially and couldn't afford to patent her creation. Instead, she bartered! She made curtains for an acquaintance in exchange for a patent writing services! Smart lady!

How to you save money sewing? Please share your tips and tricks to stretch your dollar!

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