Save money sewing – new mothers edition

There are some great tips in blogland on how to save money sewing.  My friend Cidell sagely advised, “sew underwear, coats and activewear”.  True!  Those RTW items are on the high end, whereas the skill level and materials needed for lingerie and activewear is on the low end.  Great return on investment.  I can’t talk about sewing coats though since I’ve never tackled sewing one.

For new parents though, and in general most people who sew are women (a pity!), the other money savers are to sew your own:

  • Cloth nappies – try the Rita’s Rump Pocket free download, it fit my newborn son and went all the way up till he was 2.  It dries fast too, I could use it without a dryer.  Highly, highly recommended!  With a young baby I stuff these with a microfibre cleaning cloth and it did the trick, an older baby will need more absorbancy.
  • Cloth baby wipes – even easier.  You sew a square that looks the right size for your hand.  Wash with regular clothes unless very stained, then you might prefer washing with nappies, or if you don’t use cloth nappies, wash a load of regular laundry with a prewash added.
  • Cloth menstrual pads, aka ‘mama pads’ – whoa another money saver, and healthier for you and the environment.  Trace off around a disposable pad whose size/style you like, then sew with flannel and a couple layers.  If you make a winged pad you might prefer the inside layers to be without wings or the wings get too thick to wear comfortably.
  • Maternity clothes and nursing tops in particular if you are breastfeeding: they are really expensive otherwise.  Jalie has a few maternity/nursing patterns, and their nursing camisole and soft nuring bra pattern, Jalie 3131, is a real deal!  I haven’t tried their patterns yet but Lekala has a good selection of affordable download patterns for maternity: Lekala maternity patterns

Actually, all three of these projects are great to do at once with a large piece of cotton flannel (a flannel sheet also works here).  The Rump Pocket nappy will have lots of space between the winged edges, where you can cut out mama cloth or mama cloth inserts.  All of the materials are the same, and everything is the same colour, so when your nesting burst of energy hits thread your sewing machine and turn them out 🙂

Cloth diapering is much cheaper than using disposables, even when you factor in laundering them.  Personally I found them much easier to use than disposables too.  Every time I noticed we were running low on nappies, I’d put baby down and put in a load of diapers, and two hours later hang them out to dry.  It was much easier than running out after dinner to buy diapers for the morning, or taking out the trash every other day.

If you know of a good DIY nursing pad, please share in the comments!

I tried making 3 or 4 ply flannel nursing pads when preparing for the birth of my son, but wasn’t over-awed with the results, so I will recommend them conditionally as nusing pads worked best for me when they had a waterproof layer and weren’t bulky.  The DIY flannel ones were okay to wear at home, because they leave a very definite line under the bra.  They’re breathable, so good to use when dealing with irritation or candida–but you have to take out a damp nursing pad right away or the soggy flannel will just worsen the irritation – which is alright if you have several pairs to rotate.  Fortunately, pretty soon your milk production will regulate itself and you won’t have stains, so this is short-lived.  With DS I had already breastfed my DD (and used RTW nursing pads) and my supply regulated so quickly I had practically no need of nursing pads.  Yay!  Bottom line: recommended while your milk supply is adjusting as a back-up to more sophisticated nursing pads.

Breastfeeding pillow: this is probably a money saver, but I have never priced the project out as I got a great Boppy pillow from my DSIL, and DH gave me a high end organic body/nursing pillow awhile pg to make sleeping more comfortable.  Do you have any experience to share with making nursing pillows?

Ultimately, if you compare like with like you’re saving money: your custom-made projects are much cheaper than what you could hire someone to make for you.  But if you are comparing a deeply discounted tee shirt with one you made yourself, the RTW might be cheaper… although with clothing factory safety and worker protection of garment workers internationally those are other factors to consider.  If you want to sew, go sew!  Enjoy it!  If you’re on a budget, focus on items that are in your skill reach and cost a lot more to buy.


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