For generations women sewed for their families to save money. Sewing clothes and linens and even dolls was really the only option for many families at a time when ready-made consumer goods were expensive and not readily available in many locations.
But over the last few decades things have radically changed, haven’t they? Clothing and linens and toys can now be bought really cheaply and really easily. Too cheaply and too easily many people would argue, but nonetheless the reality is sewing in many cases is no longer the more economical option.
DIY Duck Rattle Kits to sew as baby gifts are brand new in my shop.
Fabric yardage can be expensive, plus the price of thread, notions, and then the cost of a pattern, not to mention the time invested. Clearly those of us in the handmade community recognize all the wonderful aspects of sewing our own things: the feeling of satisfaction that comes when a project is completed, the ability to customize items so that they are exactly the way we want them, the pride in owning or giving something unique that we poured our hearts into.
While all of these things are terrific and are in a large part why I continue to sew every day, I do wonder if in this day and age sewing can save money. Of course, being a stuffed animal pattern designer, I am most curious about whether sewing your own toys in particular can be an economical choice.
Josephine makes a great model. She loves this rattle.
I’m going to take a baby gift as an example because we all need to give baby gifts and we often end up buying mass-produced stuffed animals to fill this need. Stuffed animals are soft and cute and babies don’t have any yet (as opposed to older kids who are often already swimming in stuffed animals!) so they tend to be a popular baby gift.
When my third daughter, Josephine, was born the first gift to arrive on our doorstep came from my sister’s husband’s parents. It was a purple bunny lovey (a little blankie with a head). In the haze of those first few weeks with a newborn I remember thinking it was really cute and soft and perfect for a baby because it was small and safe for her to have in the crib, which is where I put it.
Now that Josephine is 18 months, “Mr. Purples” has become her security object. He comes with us everywhere and she sleeps with him at every nap and at bedtime.
About how much did Mr. Purples cost? I happen to know that he is available on Amazon because I just bought a back-up in case the real Mr. Purples ever goes missing (don’t tell!).
Here he is in ivory (Purple is sold out right now. Mabye I got the last one?) for $11.95. My guess is that he wasn’t bought on Amazon, but was instead purchased in a baby boutique of some kind and was probably closer to $15, but either way it’s safe to say that he costs between $12 and $15.
You’ll need less than 1/4 yard of purple fleece for the body and head, a scrap of quilting cotton to line the ears, some embroidery floss for the features, and some fiberfill stuffing (machine washable is key here!). Total cost of materials? In an average big box fabric store I would say about $4, although you may already have some of these materials in your stash.
Josephine at 18 months with my bear Lovey Dovey. Mr. Purples is just out of view!
Lovies are quick and easy to sew. I’d say it might take 1.5 hours to make this bunny tops. So, for $10.50 plush 1.5 hours of your time you have a handmade lovey and some leftover materials plus a pattern that you can use to over and over again and that gives you options to make other kinds of animal lovies.
So the answer is yes, you’ve saved money. Not a lot of money, granted, but you have saved real money by making something yourself. And if you were to cut up a fleece blanket or a pair of worn out pajamas that you already had and make lovies from that you would save even more.
Outtakes from the Baby Bear and Blankie Set photoshoot.
I would say that when it comes to baby gifts, if you enjoy sewing at all, it does pay to make a handmade softie. And of course you’ll feel great giving something you made with your own two hands, that is unique and made with love. Whether you buy my lovey pattern, or use someone else’s pattern, or draft your own, I think it is safe to say that making your own softie is indeed an economically sound choice to for a baby gift.
What do you think? Does sewing save money in today’s economy?