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Made by a Fabricista: A Work Wardrobe with a $50 Fabric Budget

Can you save money by sewing your own clothes?  Well, that all depends on a lot of factors!  I decided to challenge myself to make a new Spring work wardrobe with a $50 budget for fabric.  I know, I know- that doesn't include your patterns, notions and miscellaneous things like interfacing and lining.  For me, those are already sunk costs, because I already have them.  By ordering during one of Fabric Mart's $2/$3/$4 sales, I was able to make 8 items- 2 pants, 1 skirt, 1 dress, and 3 tops.  Here's my exact order:

This took me about 6 weeks once I started.  I usually sew after dinner for about an hour or two every day.  It's my relaxation time.  I dove right in the deep end with the jacket first.
I absolutely love this fabric!  It is so bright and cheery.    I made the jacket with Vogue 2957, an out of print Anne Klein designer pattern.

The fabric is a Milly Cady suiting which I found challenging to work with.  It feels delightful, but it is tough as nails.   I started with a regular sewing machine needle, but had lots of skipped stitches, so I switched to  Microtex needle, and that worked much better.  The fabric didn't like to take a pressing either, so it was tough getting good clean edges.  If you want to see the price tag on a real Milly Cady Blazer, look here.

These pants were also made from a suiting, but the fabrics couldn't have been more different.  This one is still available here.  It was soft and drapey and had no issues sewing or pressing.  The pattern I used for the pants was Simplicity 3756- a pant with a faced waistband and interesting front pockets.  I chose the 7/8 length.  For the top, I used a sheer woven jacquard, which didn't feel like polyester at all- I would have definitely thought it was cotton, had I not seen the description.  I made it into Butterick 6713. 

It is a relatively easy top to make.  Here's the back:

I used two of these Milly buttons on the pants front just for a little extra interest.

Here's the same pattern from a different fabric- this was a chiffon from a mystery bundle that I bought last year, and I used it for my muslin version.  It really doesn't count in the $50 challenge, but I thought it was so pretty that I wanted to show you anyway!

My next outfit was a skirt (Simplicity 2451) from the same black suiting, and a blouse from this polyester chiffon, using Butterick 6710.  You may be wondering- how did she get a pair of pants and a skirt from just 2 yards of suiting?  Well, very judicious use of fabric, and a very generous cut of fabric- it was more like 2-1/2 yards- thank you very much Fabric Mart!  I would have preferred the skirt to be a few inches longer, but this was the length that I could manage. 

I had just slivers of fabric left after cutting!

Also, I probably won't be making this skirt from Simplicity 2451 again- not because I don't like it- I very much do!  But I left the pattern tissue on the floor, and the Roomba ate it- totally ruined it.  That will teach me not to pick up patterns off the floor before I go to bed!

Here's the same blouse in a black chiffon print.  I chose this style because it was relatively simple.  Chiffon can be so shifty, so a style without a lot of seams makes sense.  The sleeves are elasticized at the cuff.

Here is the black floral blouse with the jacket and pants (Vogue 2957).  I am not sure that I will ever wear this together, as it is a lot of red. But, if I ever want to be in a crowded city where I want my husband to be able to spot me, this would be the outfit!  Notice that the pants are a bit short.  This was intentional- according to Angie, the blogger at You Look Fab, this length is on trend,  which makes me happy so I don't have to worry about pants dragging on the ground and getting dirty.

And again- if you'd like to see the price tag on a pair of Milly Cady pants, look here.  Ay, yai yai!  I bought another 3 yards of this fabric, I love it so much.  I don't know what I'll make with it- perhaps a different style jacket.

And lastly, is this polyester crepe plaid dress, made from a 1980's pattern  Butterick 6787.  This is my least favorite of the bunch. I'm not sure why, maybe it's not a great style on me, or maybe the white is too stark for my pale skin.

I had so much fun planning and making these coordinates.  I cannot wait to start wearing them.  And I met my challenge of making a work wardrobe with a $50 fabric budget!  Yes, you can save money making your own clothes!  If I were to have bought these in a regular store, I would have been looking at probably a $500 bill.  There is nothing like having new Spring clothes to wear at the end of Winter.  What are your thoughts on sewing to save money?  Do you or don't you?

Happy Sewing!



  1. Holy smokes, you're totally inspiring me to make a new work wardrobe! Well done, you look fabulous in red!

  2. What a beautiful job you've done creating a wardrobe that suits you in style and color! Everything works together so perfectly. And, what a great value! I enjoyed reading about your process. Thank you for sharing your project. By the way, I think the white plaid dress looks terrific on you.

  3. Winner, winner chicken dinner. This looks like you are ready for a travel trip and be perfectly styled.

    1. Yes, I would love to take this on a trip somewhere!

  4. OH MY GOODNESS!!! When I saw your blogpost, my brain decided these were spring plans, not that it was already done.

    This is so amazing Ann! You have SO MANY potential combinations! Great to know about that cady (I'd asked on your blog). I bought like 5 yards of it and am excited to make pants and a topper!

    All of those blouse fabrics are just beautiful! And it's so smart when building a wardrobe to use the same pattern on repeat. The fabric changes the look so much that you can't even tell they're the same.

    1. Thank you, Nakisha! I still have more plans, believe it or not, to extend this wardrobe more! Next is a black raincoat.

  5. Brava Ann! What a great challenge to make for yourself, and you nailed it. The red jacket and the large scale floral top are particularly cheerful! You look fabulous!

  6. I love this! You have definitely inspired me to see what I can put together from my fabric stash.

  7. Challenge made and met! I can confirm FM's generous cuts, and the bundles are truly awesome. No, not every cut will be prescious, but I have had the opportunity to try so many fabrics, colors, patterns that I never would have ordered individually. At the moment, I have a pair of pants cut from an indigo poly bottomweight pongee received in my last bundle. The bundles are great for wearable muslins, many of which are now wardrobe favorites.

    1. I agree- I have learned so much about different fabrics from the bundles that I've received. Sometimes it takes a while for a fabric to "grow" on me, but I find that if I don't like something immediately, wait a few years, and it will be perfect!

  8. Great looks! Thanks for sharing your wardrobe for spring. I love the colors and the pattern choices.

  9. I love how you made an entire spring wardrobe from $50! It's a wonderful wardrobe and a testament not only to the quality of FM's fabrics but also to their fantastic pricing!

    1. Yeah, it's pretty incredible how nice the fabrics are for the price!

  10. Ann, these pieces are magnificent!! Bravo, standing ovation over here!! --Vivmom

  11. Love your wardrobe. The colors and prints and styles work wonderfully together. Curious if the budget drove the predominantly poly fiber content or the prints and colors needed.

    1. That's a good question, and I actually did think about it when I was choosing it because I generally prefer natural fibers. But I had my heart set on the coral red suiting, and finding things that I thought would work with it probably took a higher priority than the budget. I have to say that the quality of polyester has definitely improved over the years, and after working with these fabrics, I am definitely less averse to man-made fibers than I used to be!


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