Monday, December 19, 2011

Back To Basics Sewing, Pt 1

This is a topic that I have talked about before but wanted to revisit.  Many times, I hear people say that it is expensive to sew your family's clothing.  They are right and yet they are wrong.  It comes down to how you go about it.  If you buy patterns often and expensive fabrics, the costs can be much higher than store bought.  One factor to remember is that typically homemade clothing will be more sturdy than the cheap clothing bought in discount stores.  There is always a way to cut the costs however.  In these next couple of posts, I will explain how you can make sewing for your home and family more affordable.

One of the best ways that you can cut costs is to be prudent in your pattern selections & purchases.  When I have to buy a pattern, I always plan ahead and wait for a sale.  I have been able to purchase patterns for $1.99 each that were sold at up to $16.99 at regular price.  In all, I have purchased over $120 in patterns for less than $30. 

The second thing that I have done to keep costs down is to be creative in my pattern choices.  Buying pattern packs that contain several options  are always best.  Let me give you a couple of examples.  I bought the "Frillies" pattern from Buckaroo Bobbins.  The pattern is one that I have spoken of before.  It contains 2 versions of a camisole, 2 versions of bloomers/pantaloons, and a petticoat.  At first glance, you can easily see that made in a plain muslin or linen fabric, the clothing is old west period underpinnings for ladies.  Take a second look though.  Omit the wide ruffle on the petticoat and you have a half slip.  With the petticoat ruffle omitted and the straight line of the petticoat extended to the length of the finished petticoat, it becomes a full length skirt.  The bloomers, ruffle omitted, can be made into wide leg capri pants or extend to full length for slacks or sleep pants.  Cut a shorter length and you can have shorts of whatever length you prefer.  The camisoles can be made of any fabric to become a pretty summer top to add to your skirt.  The options are nearly endless!  All from a simple pattern pack for old west styled underpinnings. 

The second example is that of Little Miss' dress pack called "Nicole's Dress" which also came from Buckaroo Bobbins.  In the pattern set there is a simple plain dress with pinafore.  What I love about the dress pack is that you can make it with the long sleeves or with short.  The best part is that the single pattern pack, containing girl's sizes 4-12, only cost $7.95.  Add to that the underpinnings pattern pack that I had bought from McCall's patterns before it was discontinued.  When I bought the McCall's pattern, I got it on sale for $1.00 and bought it in all sizes available.  So, for under $10.00, I have underpinnings, dress and pinafore for her in all sizes up to size 12.  Being that she is currently in size 5, I won't have to buy a pattern for a long time.

The point is, I try to get as much out of the patterns as possible.  I never buy a single purpose pattern.  The only exception may be if I ever buy an apron pattern.  Then it is only because the apron wasn't a part of a pattern pack I used.  Even with that situation, I would only get an apron pattern that has options in how I make it.  By holding down the number of patterns purchased for each family member, I can hold down costs.  I buy can watch for sales on the fabrics.  Buying winter or summer weight fabrics when they are off-season and on sale is a bonus.  One added perk to using only a few patterns is that you are able gain skill in making the clothing.  With experience, the construction gets easier and faster. 

The last issue on this that I want to mention is that many people overlook the free sewing patterns available online for making clothing accessories.  One case in point.  A hooded scarf pattern I saw at the fabric store cost $11.95.  I found free directions for making the same thing online.  Be resourceful and do a Google search for any accessories you want to make.  There are many available if you take the time to look at them.

Christmas & Fabric Gift Bags

Less than a week until Christmas. Oh my. I look around the house and there is little signs of the upcoming holiday. So, this week, the kids are making decorations as well as some little gifts. They are doing great with the homeschooling. Grandson is loving his new school materials and Little Miss is enjoying the materials that she is using. She was surprised to notice that she has earned 2 badges in her Little Keeper's program. We won't have them until after the holidays, so I am thinking of saving them until the next time Daddy is home and then making a special event out of it by us taking her to dinner at her favorite place "Growls", which is pronounced Golden Corral by the rest of us. For those who don't know, Golden Corral is an all you can eat buffet. If given a vote, Little Miss will choose her "Growls" every time!

I have been busy in the evenings working on gifts. Mainly finishing up smaller projects. It is such fun to be able to make the gifts, with a house full of people, and no one know what you are doing. Requires a few late nights sometimes, but it is worth it.

I still have to finish making stockings and Little Miss' doll. If I can, I will sew up a few fabric gift bags to use instead of paper gift wrap. I am considering making a batch of the fabric gift bags later after the holidays to have a supply for during the year. I hate the idea of spending so much for paper wrap. With the fabric gift bags, I can make them to use with Joe and the kids. Once used, they can be saved for another time. If giving the gift to someone outside your home, the bag can be reused by them or they can fill it with a potpourri to make a nice scented bag to display in their home.

If you do much sewing, you know that there is often fabric left over. Sometimes, you have pretty fabric from an article of clothing that is out-grown in size. The fabric can be repurposed into the gift bags. The bags can be made of an assortment of sizes to fit nearly any wrapping need. I love the ones that are about lunch bag size. Those would get used more often than any other. A few bags made slightly larger would round out the set. If you need to stiffen up the bag bottom, place a piece of poster board or cover a portion of a cereal box cut to size into the bag bottom. Coordinating ribbon makes a nice closure.

In being conservative in the spending not only of our finances but in the natural resources the Lord has blessed us with, fabric gift bags just makes sense to me.