More Ways to Save Money on Clothing

More Ways to Save Money on Clothing

One of the ways a single mother looking after house and home on a single-income wage manages her money, is by looking at what she is spending where, and periodically assessing if money needs to be spent there, or if the need can be met using other means.

Only so much time in a dayExerting time and effort on a task rather than throwing money at it can be a workable exchange if the time and capabilities for the effort exist. The want-to is helpful, but sometimes the need-to is the greater force of determination to meet needs when funds are tight. They say necessity is the mother of invention, and they’re not wrong. When you can’t afford a repairman, teaching yourself how to do the repair can not only help you out right then, but serve you well and save you money in the future as well.

I shared over the course of 2020, various ways one can adjust their grocery shopping habits, clothing buying habits, transportation expectations and scheduling, ways to trim excess spending and use it to pay down debts or make other bills easier to afford, etc.

laundry and foragingOne of the ways we make our grocery budget stretch further is by foraging. We had a successful foraging run this morning, and now have several trays outside drying sweet clover, arugula, twisted stock/false solomon’s seal (similar plants), desert parsley, and a few other things. Once we were home and hand those things out on the drying trays, it was time to start the laundry. One of the ways to make your clothing last longer is not to do laundry every single day, not to change your clothes every single day either, and if possible, save further breakdown via agitation and tumbling while also saving on the electrical bill by hanging clothes outside to dry. As I type this, the second load is in the spin cycle and soon to hit the outside dryer rack. This article will likely be interrupted to go hang the second load of laundry.

Next stages of the foraging run will be crushing the dried food and placing it into storage containers. From there it will be used in teas, medicines, personal hygiene and other needs throughout the rest of the year and into the winter months. Next stages of laundry will be the folding and putting away once they are dry.

I’ve discussed how to shop for clothing in ways that save you money, but today I want to discuss replacing shopping with putting in time and effort making your own clothes instead. If you don’t know how to sew, there are many tutorials online that can take you from a know-nothing to a competent beginner, or from beginner to intermediate, or from intermediate to professional seamstress/tailor. No need to take classes when you can teach yourself using such a wide range of educational materials found online.

For me, using a sewing machine is an exercise in utter frustration! Snapped thread, snapped needles, tension too tight, tension too loose, running over straight pins, garbled bobbins, snapped bobbins, and the list goes on. I did take sewing class during Home Economics back in High School, so I know the basics of making clothing, but using a sewing machine is literally enough to pull my hair out! Does this mean I can’t make clothes?

Hardly! So what options are there for someone like me who fights with her sewing machine? How does one go about making clothing when traditional sewing is out of the picture?! There are various methods available actually. The one(s) that appeal to you the most will be the ones I recommend you engage in, even at a rudimentary level you’d only wear around the house.

knitting

The first method is knitting. This is a way to not only create clothing, but create cloth for clothing as well. There are various patterns around the Internet ranging from toques and bonnets to sweaters, bibs, blankets, cardigans, tote bags, scarves and more. You can browse old book shelves at thrift stores for a cheap way to obtain books of patterns. This goes for crocheting as well. This is another way to not only make clothing, but cloth for clothing too with many patterns out there to help you make what you want or need made. A third way to make clothing are the various “no-sew” methods out there that mostly amount to creative use of knots in strategic places to turn old skirts into shirts, old shirts into tank tops, rag rugs, etc.

hand sewingBut if you struggle with knitting or crocheting, and don’t like the look of the no-sew methods, try your hand at hand-sewing! Often, this is left to the area of mending holes in socks and sewing patches onto jeans. But if you have the time and effort, you can make clothing this way too using the same patterns your friends use who use the sewing machine. For myself, I’ve developed what I call two stitch types: The lock stitch, and the running stitch.

The lock stitch is good for sewing along edges that you don’t want fraying. Insert your threaded needle into the cloth. If this is the first poke, pull it all the way through to ensure the knot is up against the cloth. Bring the needle back over to the side you started with, and poke back through partway and loop the thread over the needle. Now pull the rest of the way through. At this point, your section stitch looks like a diagonal line is going up to it. Bring your needle back around and make a third poke partway through, loop over your thread and pull all the way through. Now you’ll start to see the locking in action because you’ll observe a straight line going from your second stitch to your third stitch. If you place your stitches close together, this creates a tight, decent hem.

The running stitch is better for internal seam creation where you need things to lay flatter than what the lock stitch provides. Insert your needle into the cloth and poke it through again onto the same side you started from and pull all the thread through to bring your knot up against the cloth. Take your needle and poke it halfway between the knot and where your thread exited when you brought it back through onto this side of your cloth. But, as you did before, don’t merely poke it onto the other side, but push it back onto this side a little further along the cloth and pull the thread all the way through. You’ll see a small stitch on this side of your cloth. For your third poke, again, place the needle between that first stitch and where the thread exited the cloth on this side, push through the cloth and immediately back through the cloth back onto this side and pull the thread all the way through. Now you’ll see two stitches on this side. If you flip the cloth over, you’ll notice that depending on how straight your line is, you either split the previous stitches on that side or overlapped stiches on that side. Depending on how you work with your left and right hands, you may be able to decide which side you want the overlapped stitches and which side you want the non-overlapping stitches to be. For me, the non-overlapping stitches in the running stitch are always facing me and nearly always on the “bad side” of the project because I am sewing where I can see my straight pins and seem allowances best. If you get good at this stitch, you’ll be able to create small enough running stitches that almost mirror a sewing machine.

When I sit down to hand-sew, I begin with a length of thread that is three times my total arm span from hand to hand. I thread the needle, then take the end I threaded it with in one hand, the needle in the other, and pull them apart, running the loose thread through my fingers until I have both loose ends almost equal to each other. I’ll adjust the ends, take an inch to double them back on themselves, and do a tight loop knot. Then I hold the knot in one hand, and the doubled thread in the other and separate my hands until the other hand has grasped the needle. This helps prevent unwanted knotting up in the middle right off the bat. If I’m only doing some mending, I dive right in and get the job done.

If I’m making something more complicated, I will have pinned the pattern, cut the pattern, then assembled the pattern using quite a few pins to hold the pieces together until I get to them. I use more pins in hand-sewing than I ever used in machine sewing, because it takes longer to get from one pin to another than on the machine. I often skip the ironing step, but ironing your pattern after pinning can help keep everything where it needs to be before sewing as well.

I’m going to share a pattern for a handsewn female undergarment that is horribly over-priced in the stores! But first I’ll be creating a video going over some of the steps above that I use in my hand-sewing escapades. Look for that over the coming week. Sharing how I made the undergarment will be presented both in blog and video format as well.

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