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Please don't remind me that I'm poor; I'm having too much fun pretending I'm simply "living green" like everyone else these days.


Friday, September 10, 2010

DIY logic

There are those who don't see the point of sewing or crafting things for yourself.  What's the point of learning to sew or weave rugs or making your own clothes when it's cheaper to just buy them?  The cost of fabric is about $10 a yard, a ready made outfit for a child is about $3 at places like the dollar store or Walmart.  How can we compete with that?

Well here's an example of why I make my own rugs.  I bought a rag rug for $3.  (Bad idea!  I don't know what I was thinking... geeze)  I love rag rugs.  This is what happened the first time I washed it. 

Hmm.... that's a cost of $3 for a one time use, disposable rug.  What if I bought one of these a month?  That's $36 a year for disposable rugs.  I can find better uses for $36 than putting it into the trash.  I'd much rather spend time creating a rag rug for myself using what fabric scraps I can salvage from old clothing or quilting scraps.  At least I'll know the rug will last much longer than one washing.  I have a rag rug I made by crochet.  I've been using it for over 15 years.  By my calculations I've saved $540 making that one rug instead of buying disposable ones.  I'm sure it will last at least another 15 years.

Here's another example.  My pot holders have finally gotten the best of me. 
They are grease stained and won't wash clean.  I can't stand to look at them this way anymore. I got these for xmas three or four years ago.  The cost of buying new ones is about $4 a pair at the dollar store.  (I think)  I could buy some that will last another three or four years; but, I can make them free by using what I have and keep the $4 for something else.  I can take apart these to use the padding for new ones with fabric scraps or....

use scrap batting and quilt scraps to make some.  Hmm.... make some matching place mats to go with them too.  I used two layers of flame retardant and one layer of cotton batting.  I have napkins, an appliance cover, and an apron cut out ready to finish.  All matching.  The thread of the satin stitch is a perfect match to my kitchen wall color.  I saved even more money by making these too.

A few months ago, I thought about how I used to save leftover cooking oil in a can designed to filter out bits of food.  It was an all metal can with a filter screen and a lid.  I haven't seen one of those cans in a good number of years.  Maybe I'm not looking in the right places.  Anyway, I wanted to start saving the used cooking oil.  Since I can't find the filtering cans, I had to come up with a way to make a filter to work for me.  This is what I did.

And this.

I like the screen for filtering large pieces of food and the cotton fabric for filtering the smaller pieces.  I plan to cut the screen to fit inside the jar ring.  I will cut the fabric so it fits on top of the screen.  The filter fabric can be washed by hand in the dish water after the dishes are done.  Rinsing very well of course.

So what about clothing?  Is it worth the cost of making my own?  The cost of fabric is very high compared to buying ready made.  True, ready made clothing is "cheap" in dollars but it's also cheap in quality.  When I buy a shirt, for example, if it fits my chest and stomach, the shoulder seams hang nearly to my elbows and the back is too wide.  I can either wear it like that or spend the time altering it to fit me.  Altering defeats the point don't you think?  It requires taking the whole thing apart to re cut and resew.  If I'm going to spend time remaking the outfit anyway, why not make it myself in the first place? 

Sometimes ready made clothing shrinks in odd ways.  When the fabric used for making ready made clothing is created, it's stretched and starched.  Manufacturers save money this way.  After the clothing is sold, and it's washed, it shrinks back to it's original form.  If the cutting room gets the straight grain cutting just a bit off before the clothing is made, then the fabric shrinks in odd ways.  If I make my own clothing I can trust I've cut it on the straight of grain where it's supposed to be cut straight of grain.

So where do I find fabric for making my own clothes instead of paying $10 a yard?  My own older clothes, thrift stores, yard sales, my fabric stash, from friends clearing out their stashes, and so forth.  Here's an example. 

I used leftover t-shirt fabric (from making memory quilts) to make my undies.  That was in November of 2009 and I posted the instructions here.  T-shirt fabric never really wears out if it's quality fabric to begin with.  I'm planning to make some bras from leftover fabrics too.  Hopefully, that's a project I can do this weekend.

You beginning to see my point?  No?  Well look at it this way.  Suppose you learn forgotten skills like sewing, crafting, scratch cooking and so forth.  You find ways to stop paying for disposable items or at the very least not buying something you can make yourself.  You learn to stop paying for a personal chef and so forth..  If you eliminate just $100 a month from your buying budget.... that's $1,200 a year you could be saving for something special. 

No time for DIY projects?  Yes, I know, not everyone can devote time for sewing and crafting but what about just one hour a day?  If you spend one hour relaxing in front of the tv, why not keep your hands busy too?  Multi-task tv watching with crochet or weaving or knitting or pinning fabric for clothing together.  Pretty soon you will realize that 5 to 7 hours a week devoted to DIY projects adds up to a lot of $ savings in a year's time.  Ok, suppose you only learn one DIY craft.... for example crochet dish cloths.  You could barter quality crochet dish cloths for something else or sell them for extra spending money. 

Hmm.... I could debate the DIY vs Cheap buying for a long time.  Type-talking about the subject is not getting my work done.  If I haven't convinced you by now..... maybe I will by letting you see the changes I make in my own life.  I can't do everything at once but I can do one at a time.  What's the saying?  All roads start with the first step.  I've taken the first step going back to basics..... have you?

1 comment:

kathi said...

You have me thinking the new dog keeps eating rugs. . LIVING room rug last "victim".. hmm? thanks. we NEED to KEEP what we have. how does it go again? fix it. repair it. save it. recycle it. thanks friend for bringing me back to the REAL world. I DON'T WANT wash once and gone rugs.