Today I bought a dress, and fabric (and notions) to make two other dresses. Want to guess which was the cheapest?
I recently ordered a stack of patterns, since the Vogue/McCalls/Butterick website was having a big sale – patterns normally $15-20 for $1.88-$3.88! I ordered five for the price of one, yippee!
I decided to focus on the top three. The middle one I’ve been planning on for a while – the reflective sash I made a while back is intended to go with this dress pattern, and the shoulder piece will also be reflective.
I had planned on biking out to Seven Corners, in Fairfax, this afternoon to go to the JoAnn Fabrics, but when I saw yesterday’s Living Social deal for G Street Fabrics, I immediately jumped on it. I hadn’t yet been to that fabric store, but a New York friend recommended it, so why not? $25 for $50 worth of fabric and notions? Yes please!
Before I headed into the fabric stores, I stopped in the Ross Dress for Less store, and ended up walking out with a super cute, flattering Calvin Klein maxi dress – originally $128, I paid $41.99 including tax.
Then I went into JoAnn’s, and ended up with this print silky polyester.
It’s different than I had envisioned initially for this dress, but I really like it, and the plummy background will make it stretch through the fall as well. I didn’t have enough purple reflective fabric left, so yesterday I called B&J Fabrics and bought the last yard! It is on it’s way! I didn’t buy lining material yet, however, just thread.
Then I spent a long time roaming the bolts of fabric in G Street Fabrics. The place was nothing like I expected – it’s in a basement, and huge! Tons of specialty fabrics, the one thing JoAnn’s lacks – silks, linens, suiting wools, leather, sequined fabrics, and I never even made it into the Home Decorating section.
The color block dress pattern suggested double knit as a fabric option, so I decided to try it. I’ve never really worked with that, so we’ll see what happens. The color choices are pretty limited, so although I didn’t really want to copy the style on the pattern cover, I pretty much did. Mine will be cream on top, teal in the middle, and gray on the hem.
I think this will be a comfy business dress that I can still bike in. I’m not sure if I want to add reflective piping to it, however. It’s got the perfect seams, but I don’t know… Thoughts?
Anyway, neither of these dresses are starting off cheap. Here’s a price rundown so far:
Reflective Shoulder Dress:
- The yard of reflective fabric from New York is $49, and I have no idea what the FedEx Ground will cost.
- The 4.5 yards of silky fabric was 40% off, thank goodness, making it only $5.99 a yard. Plus thread, and Iron-Off, and another coupon, the JoAnn’s bill was $34.18.
- I still need to buy 4 yards of lining fabric. G Street has a great selection, so I’ll go there, but it is still $7.99 a yard, so that will be about $32. I’ll probably get another of those Living Social deals.
- Including the lining fabric I haven’t bought yet, this is already costing me $114.96.
Color Block Dress:
- The double knit was $19.98 a yard. I had to buy a total of 4.5 yards, so that’s $69.93 right there.
- I also bought a bunch of notions and supplies. The total bill, before the Living Social $50, was $97.84.
- I paid $25 for the Living Social deal, so I actually spent $72.84 at G Street Fabrics.
I haven’t calculated in my time yet:
- I need to wash, dry, and iron the fabric. With so many yards, the ironing will take a while.
- I have to cut out and adjust as needed the paper pattern.
- I have to cut out the fabric.
- Then I get to sew! No idea how long that will take, although the color block dress should only take a day.
- If my union rate in New York was about $28 an hour, well, you can do the math…
So basically, its cheaper to NOT sew your own clothes!
This makes me think of the recent tragedy in Bangladesh, where a fire in a garment factory has killed over 1,000 workers (although a woman was just discovered alive after 16 days trapped in the rubble. Amazing will to live.) Events like these always make me reevaluate my relationship with the clothes I buy – is this outfit on sale at Macy’s worth the cost of human lives?
I am not going to pontificate on the rights and wrongs of where our clothing comes from; there are so many pieces to that puzzle. I am on a budget, and as much as I wish I could shop companies who make socially responsible garments, or buy handmade products from local designers, the fact is, sometimes I can only afford that $10-on-clearance top from Ann Taylor Loft. I like to think that I will only buy what I really need, or only shop in consignment stores, thus helping to reduce demand, but I’m not that disciplined. In fact, if I really wanted to stick to my budget, I wouldn’t sew at all! Then there is the simple fact that whatever I make at home still doesn’t look as formal or “done” as store-bought clothing.
I can’t wait to start my new projects, while I wear my new bargain maxi dress, and remind myself that “slow fashion” is acceptable, that fewer, better quality pieces are better than many cheap ones. And try to stay out of the stores, because I just blew my budget on handmade dresses-to-be!