Is sewing your own clothes really cheaper?

I’ve been sewing for a long time now, about ten years. I enjoy it a lot and I’m not half bad at it! I’ve expanded my skills enough to the point that I basically expect to sew all of my own clothes. I haven’t bought new clothes since December of 2015, although I have bought a few used things since then. But does sewing your own clothes really save you money? I tracked the costs of a dress I made this weekend.

I’m always freezing cold at work and with the recent snow we’ve gotten I was thinking about making a winter dress. I had my eye on M7016 for a while now and I decided to pick it up plus some fabric and make a weekend project of it.

I needed the pattern, fabric and matching thread, since I wanted to finish the hems with a dual needle and wanted a really close colour match rather than using some of the thread I’ve already got.


I looked at the seasonal fabrics that Fabricland has got in but I was turned off by the $24/m prices. I’d need at least 2m for this dress and I chose to shop at Fabricland rather than my preferred local fabric shop because I was hoping for a deal on fabric. I headed to the clearance section where I picked up 2.25m of this lovely stuff for about $7.80/m. I paid membership prices for the pattern and thread as they happened to be having a sale on right now that doubled the regular membership discount. With the discount the pattern cost me $8.99 and the thread $1.13 for a total of about $27.67 +/- a small amount of taxes. I did not need to buy any other tools or supplies (I skipped the interfacing that the pattern called for). I have a great set up in my sewing room with a good sewing machine and all the scissors, tools, and space to work efficiently.

Speaking of working efficiently, I also tracked how much time it took me to put together this is a relatively simple dress and it was spot on about 4 hours from start to finish. I didn’t rush particularly nor really go slow but I did trace off my size of the pattern rather than cutting it out of the tissue which took a few extra minutes. This keeps the pattern whole and lets me reuse it again and again. I also traced between sizes and cut a medium for the hips and skirt and a small everywhere else.


Luckily sewing is a lot of fun for me and serves as my main form of entertainment. So with that being said I’m not going to add the “cost” of my time in my calculations. When I sew for other people it’s usually way less fun so I charge an hourly rate depending on how challenging the project is. There is likely some wear and tear costs on my machine, needles and scissors and such. So let’s round costs up to an even $30.

Could I buy a winter dress like this for $30? Having not shopped in a while I’m really not sure if there’s anything similar to this in stores but I bet you could get a cheap knit dress from one of the many fast fashion retailers out there for about $30. I doubt the quality and fit would be similar though. Plus there’s the time it takes to go shopping, try on, and select a dress. The likelihood that I’d end up buying something I didn’t really need while out shopping is pretty high as well. Malls are dangerous territory for the savvy budgeter! Could I get a custom fit dress where I got to pick the fabric and adjust it the way I wanted for $30? Probably not!

As with many things that I choose to DIY, it’s not cheaper than the cheapest option out there but it is cheaper than the organic/boutique/designer equivalents out there. Sewing my own clothes does let me stretch my dollars and invest in wardrobe pieces that will last.

Despite the time and investment needed, I’m going to call this one a win for the budget sewist!


Training log: October 16

Deadlift Sunday!

I was soooo tired today. I just did the bare minimum of deadlifting and then headed home. I was feeling pretty down on myself until I looked back and realized I had a rep PR twice! Incremental progress is still progress. I’m much happier now especially considering how terrible I was feeling that morning.

Training Log: October 13

Benched and biked last night! My goal for benching is to get a single or a double at one kg more than the last time I benched. I’m up to 33kg now! Bench press is a funny animal. The set up is so odd and uncomfortable but when I get it right suddenly there’s power in my chest and arms. I’m also a fairly wide grip bencher. Good things happens when I place my hands wide.

I only had time for a half an hour on the bike but at least I got that!

It’s snowy here again today. I can feel Christmas carols humming the back of my head already…


Training Log: October 11

I have been just so fatigued for the past ten days or so. Getting home after work I was falling asleep and had it been just me I doubt I would have made it to the gym for what turned out to be a pretty good workout! I’m lucky to have found a group of people to motivate me and keep me somewhat accountable.

Barbell Squat
Set1. 43 kg x 5 Reps
Set2. 47.6 kg x 5 Reps
Set3. 52 kg x 4 Reps
Set4. 56.7 kg x 3 Reps
Set5. 61 kg x 1 Reps
Set6. 61 kg x 1 Reps

Goblet Squat
Set1. 11.3 kg x 10 Reps
Set2. 11.3 kg x 10 Reps
Set3. 11.3 kg x 10 Reps

Kettlebell squat swing
Set1. 11.3 kg x 10 Reps
Set2. 11.3 kg x 10 Reps
Set3. 11.3 kg x 10 Reps

The kettlebell swings were new and I don’t exactly know what to call them! “Squat swing” is descriptive enough I guess. After hitting that new squat PR a couple of weeks ago I had hoped to get up to at least the big 20kg plates on a regular squat training night. It hasn’t really worked out that way until now so I’m going to try and keep pushing for that as a standard top set weight. Only two singles this time so maybe a double next time?

So despite being incredibly tired I still had a good night in the gym! Awesome.

Thanksgiving and Meal Prep: October week two

Thanksgiving weekend just happened and it was lovely!


I had a great long weekend and I sewed/altered four garments! And I listed eight things in my etsy shop!

As far as meal prepping goes, thanksgiving leftovers are the name of the game this week! I finally ate up the last of that batch of pumpkin muffins so I tried out a new recipe and made some Oat and Nut Muffins. See my clever use for leftover cranberry sauce?


I snuck some pea protein powder in these things and they are quite tasty for only 165 calories! A bit on the small side I must admit but good for snacking.

I bought some apples and milk but that’s about everything for the week. Lunches and dinners will be Thanksgiving leftovers and leftover turkey frittata supplemented by soup and bread from the freezer. I’m rounding out breakfasts with frozen baked oatmeal or yogurt with cranberry sauce and granola. No cost breakdowns this time I’m afraid. Thanksgiving food and decorations cost me about $60 and the milk and eggs ran me another $6. Everything else came from my very well stocked kitchen. The fact that I am completely out of freezer space definitely has nothing to do with the fact that I’m trying to eat what I’ve got in the kitchen. Totally unrelated.

Training log: October 2,3,6 & 9

So I got a bit behind on my blogging! Last week was a bit rough for reasons unknown. I was very tired and struggled to stick to my training plan. I managed to get most things done.

  • Sunday the 2nd I deadlifted and did some cardio on the bike
  • Monday the 3rd I biked
  • Thursday the 6th I worked on my squats and benched
  • Sunday the 9th I deadlifted and biked

Not bad actually, now that I look back on it. This, of course, is the purpose of this blog!

I meant to do some more hiking but then this happened:


My plan is to turn my hikes into skis this winter. I didn’t get out my skis once last winter so I’m hoping to make more frequent use of the trails in the coming months. Shouldn’t be too difficult to beat last years record number of ski sessions.

Meal Plan: October Week One

I’m a bit late posting my meal plan for this week but here it is:


I have a great big bag of carrots that I bought in early September so I decided to make carrot soup for lunches this week and use some up. I’m pairing that with hard boiled eggs instead of bread in an effort to change out some carb calories for protein calories. I still have some pumpkin muffins from last week and thanks to the 1/2 cup of coconut oil that went into that recipe, the muffins have kept very well in the fridge. I also got some Macintosh apples on sale this weekend as well. I keep trying out other fruits like pears or bananas and nothing seems to last well enough. Good thing I like apples!

Carrot and lentil soup

  • 20g Olive oil $0.20
  • 115g Onions $0.13
  • 350g Carrots $0.63
  • 185g Red lentils $0.61
  • 1 28oz can Diced tomatoes $1.00
  • 2L Vegetable stock $2.00
  • Spices (turmeric, cinnamon, paprika etc) $0.15

Total cost for 7 servings: $4.72

Per serving: $0.68, plus an egg ($0.21) is $0.88 per meal. Lunches this week will be 290 calories and 20g of protein.

Looking at this weeks plan the cost for a day of food will look something like this:

Breakfast (280 calories, 15g protein, ~$0.65)

  • 100g Homemade yogurt
  • 30g Homemade granola

Lunch (300 calories, 20g protein, $1)

  • Carrot and lentil soup
  • Hardboiled egg
  • Sugar free jello

Snack (312 calories, 5g protein, $0.72)

  • Pumpkin muffin
  • Apple

Dinner (458 calories, 21g protein, ~$2.50)

  • White bean and sausage soup
  • 60g Garlic bread with 5g parmesan

Dessert (176 calories, 29g protein, ~$1.07)

  • 100g Homemade yogurt
  • 25g Protein powder

Daily totals: 1527 calories, 91g protein, $5.94.

I’ll probably throw in more jello or fudge the dinner numbers a bit but those are the rough numbers for the week. I’ll also likely have the carrot soup for dinner a couple of times. I had imagined I could keep my food costs under $5 a day so this is a bit higher than I’d like. I’ll keep an eye on future weeks and see if that’s a reasonable expectation. I’d like to keep my budget reasonable and sustainable so looking at real data helps me figure that out. Speaking of sustainable: I went to Costco for my quarterly visit and now I have $15 for groceries for the rest of the month. Whoops!

The soup looks yummy!

Training Log: September 29

Squats did not go well last night. And boy did it bug me!!! I was in such a funk about it but I had two other wins that day that I should really care much more about than that one failed squat.

The first one is that I kept calories nice and low where I want them right now. I’m trying to cut weight again as I gained ten pounds or so over the summer. Some of that is obviously muscle since my squat and deadlift improved a ton so I’m trying to preserve that as much as I can. Keeping my calories low is really difficult for me. I love cooking and delicious things and could never eat intuitively because I’m nearly always hungry. But I ended the day at 1620 calories which is great! I did good!

Also I benched 30kg for 7 which is the weight I failed at three times at my ill-fated meet in June. I don’t like attention and getting up on the platform to perform was really difficult for me, obviously, but not really a failure of strength. Every time I bench lately I prove that to myself again and again. So benching went well, diet was excellent and I failed a squat. No biggee. At least it shouldn’t be.

Training Log: September 27


I did it! I finally broke five miles! I brought a snack this time which clearly contributed to my success. I listened to a whole bunch of podcast episodes while walking and really focused on bracing my knees this time. Believe it or not my walking form needs work! After my last couple of hikes I had soreness at the back of my knees from hyperextending my knees as I walk. A little bit of focus has helped immensely and I’m not feeling any soreness the day after which is awesome.


I really can’t get over all this gorgeousness. I’m trying to drink in as much fall weather as I can before the winter snows get here. I’m hoping to do some cross-country skiing in a few months though. I never got around to that last winter and I hear these trails convert nicely to ski trails. I can believe it!

Training Log: September 25

New PR!!! Somolov continues to provide dividends apparently! I haven’t deadlifted in five or six weeks so I’m pleased to see that I haven’t totally forgotten everything. There’s a few obvious issues with my form but I was really testing myself so I’m not too upset. I don’t have the strongest back muscles but hopefully more deadlifts will help with that. I also did ten minutes of cardio on the rowing machine. It reminded me of how much I liked rowing. I should do it more often.