People ask me all the time if it pays to sew clothes for kids. I always answer the same way, “Yes and no.” Then, I qualify, a resounding “Yes,” if you enjoy sewing (and don’t factor in your time), another great big “Yes” if you prefer high-end well constructed clothes and you have comparable sewing skills. The next question is usually, “Can you sew kid’s clothes for less than department store/general merchandise store prices?” and “Will your kids wear them?” If you don’t rely totally on the fabric stores, you can sew children’s clothes for less than retail. The three major areas that contribute to cost effectiveness are the fabric we purchase or repurpose, the notions we use and the construction methods we employ.
As hard as the fabric chain stores try, the fabric they stock isn’t exactly what kids want to wear. So, watch the clearance sales at your favorite clothing stores and buy the largest size item of clothing with a print, color, or feel that you know your child would like. Remember you are shopping for the fabric and not the actual garment. Then repurpose this “fabric” to suit your needs. Watch for t-shirt sales and buy the largest size possible. The knits sold at the fabric store chains just don’t handle or “hang” the same as the lighter weight T-shirt fabric. Dollar type stores are also a great source of fabric to repurpose. Shopping thrift stores for “fabric” works well for preschool kids and teenagers who are looking for something retro, otherwise stick to retail stores. Kids know when their clothes are not like everybody else’s. Shopping in our own closets is also an option. Repurposing fabric from unused clothes is the ultimate way to sew on a tight budget.
Notions are a major cost when sewing clothes. There a few ways to minimize these costs. Signup for the sales flyers from the fabric stores and your local sewing machine stores to find out about sales. Reclaim buttons and zippers from clothes you are repurposing. Break the rules. Don’t feel like you always have to match thread to fabric. Make the stitching a decorative detail with complementing or contrasting thread. Only buy a range of your most used threads, instead of always matching each fabric. It may not be exciting but use coupons for the basics such as interfacing. If you work with clay or do other needlework, try making your own buttons.
Using the most efficient techniques helps make it worthwhile to sew for kids. Using flat construction methods saves a lot of time and yields results comparable to retail. If you own a serger, learn to use it for more than finishing seams. If you sew on knits, the seams can be finished to taste but won’t unravel if left untreated. Reuse existing hemlines, plackets, pockets, etc. Unleash your creative side to tackle the expense of sewing kids’ clothes.