It’s difficult to purchase something you know you can make yourself. When looking online or in a store for a new piece of clothing, consider whether or not you can make it yourself.

In the dressing room

1. Take photos. In many stores you’ll have to be covert while taking photos. Don’t use the flash, and try to keep the camera silent. Take pictures of the item from several angles — detail shots will help you when making your knock-off.

2. Inspect the construction. Turn the item inside out and study the seaming. How many pieces is the garment made out of? How are these pieces attached?

3. Take notes. Bring a notepad, make sketches of each piece of the garment, and make note of the bias if you’re picky about fit and drape.

At the craft store

1. Check what you already have. As you practice making your own clothing, you’ll develop a stash of materials to use for future projects. Dig through your stash or the back of your closet to see if there’s anything you can use.

2. Inspect the clearance aisles. Call the craft store ahead of time, asking when the next big sale begins. Many craft stores have one or two aisles of clearance fabric, selling at $1-3 dollars per yard.

3. Get coupons. Joann’s sends out an e-mail newsletter with coupons, the most useful and consistent of which being 50% off on any non-sale item.

At the drawing board

1. Get instructions. Study up on the techniques necessary to make your garment. You can easily find a plethora of tutorials on any craft at

2. Walk the pattern. Plan out how you will assemble the garment, and put each task in order. Use some scrap fabric to sew up a test run to avoid mistakes on the final product.

3. Dive in head first. Remember, it’s supposed to be fun! If you make a mistake you can always start over. In fact, you’ll learn more if you do.