“Making Homemade Look Store-Bought,” Ensign, Dec. 1991, 59
When my oldest daughter started junior high school, she and I realized that she no longer wanted to wear “homemade” clothes. I enjoy sewing and had always saved money by sewing for my daughters. I despaired when I thought of how much it would cost to buy all her clothes ready-made.
But since then, I have found that there are still items I can sew successfully at home—clothes that both of my teenage daughters enjoy wearing and that cost me less to make than to buy. As I choose which items I will sew, here are some things I consider:
Type of garment. Go to a department store or mall with your daughter and have her show you outfits she admires. Then decide if you can copy them at home. Have her try on the clothes so you both can see if the styles look good on her. I have had good luck copying modular knits, shorts, blouses, skirts, and Sunday dresses.
Patterns. Look for those that closely imitate what you saw in the store. Some patterns are designed by the same people who create ready-to-wear styles. Look for details like topstitching and special pocket treatments that give clothing a store-bought look. But as you plan, be careful to consider the cost of notions. A dress dripping with lace or other trims might be less expensive to buy than to make.
Fabric. My daughters know which prints and colors are most in style, so I have them carry each bolt of material they like to a mirror so they can see how it will look on them. Fabric content is also important. If 100 percent cotton is all the rage, then a polyester-cotton blend won’t do, because it won’t drape the same way.
Look for sales. I’ve found the fabric for some of the most beautiful dresses I’ve made on the dollar-a-yard table.
When you buy knit material or rayon, always allow for shrinkage and always wash the material, following fabric care instructions, before you cut out the garment.
Fit. Ready-made clothing fits nicely because you can try it on before you buy it. That’s why fit is so important on clothing you make at home. Fit the pattern on your daughter before you cut out the fabric and have her try on the garment frequently as you sew. Remember also that shoulder pads are an important part of the fit of many blouses and dresses today.
Careful attention to details like these can produce the ultimate compliment for your daughter—“Where did you get that? I want one just like it!”—without destroying the family budget.—Susan J. Denney, Denton, Texas