Friday, October 21, 2011

Fiscal Fridays: Buy vs DIY?

Ah-ha! I told you Fiscal Fridays wouldn't disappear. Bam. Here's a post.

That was a bit aggressive. My apologies. I'm a little on edge/nervous today, and for some reason, I decided to drink coffee. Which I have been cutting WAY back on. So I'm a bit overzealous at the moment. It happens.

Anyway, today I'm discussing the age-old money-saving question: Should I buy (fill in the blank), or make it myself? In some cases, the answer is clear. It's far cheaper to make your own wall art, for example, than it is to buy something at a store. But what about something bigger, like curtains?

The double panel at the front of the house. Ignore me in my PJs, please.

Single panel at the side of the house. These were taken with my phone so they're not that good. Don't judge.

Like a total newbie, I just assumed that it would be cheaper to make my own lined curtains. After all, for three panels of lined blackout curtains at a store like Macy's or JCPenney, I would have paid anywhere from $75 to $150 or more! No thank you. So like a fool, I just hopped over to JoAnn Fabric with about $80 cash and my grandma in tow.

The lining fabric was on sale for just $6.99 a yard. Not bad! But then we calculated that I'd need 12 yards to make curtains for the living room, bedroom and kitchen. That's $84 right there. Fortunately, my sweet grandma had the foresight to bring along a 50% off coupon, so it knocked the price down substantially. Still, it was half of the money I had brought to curtain my entire house.

Next, we hit up the fabric. I decided on a plain cream color. Initially, I was going to paint stripes on it, but I've since decided buy some sheer fabric to drape over the existing curtain. It won't risk damaging the fabric like paint would, and it can be easily changed if when I decide to redecorate.

So we bought seven and a half yards of the cream colored fabric for the curtain itself. At another $6.99 a yard, that came out to $52.43. Again, it was Grandma to the rescue with a 15% off purchase coupon (that only applied to this fabric, since the liner already had a coupon on it).

So the grand total?

- 12 yards of liner at $6.99/yard with a 50% off coupon: $41.94
- 7.5 yards of curtain fabric with a 15% off coupon: $44.57
- total after tax: $92.78

So yes, I could very well have purchased panels for the same price. But. This way, I have the added benefit of knowing that I got exactly what I wanted, because I made it. And I got to practice sewing. And to be honest, the quality is far about what I could have gotten for $30 a panel at the store, even if it was a nicer brand that was on sale. These curtains are THICK, and heavy, and they block out 100% of the light. They'll probably help keep the cold air out in the winter, too.

In conclusion? Each case is gonna be different. But make sure you research everything (and I do mean everything) about your DIY project before you just delve in like I did. You might be surprised at what you find out.

Tutorial for how I made the curtains coming soon. I promise.


  1. they look great! Plus anytime someone compliments you on them you can say that you made them! hoorray for sneaky domestic skills

  2. 1. I love the DIY vs Buy argument.
    2. You make me laugh.
    3. Your curtains look awesome! :)

    You should be really proud. Do you have a sewing machine?

  3. Good job. My mom sews and has made curtains for me and has used bed skirts that come with the comforter to make curtains. A cheap way to get fabric. We really like Ikea too. Yes, it is important to research both options. Have a great weekend!

  4. They look nice, I have a rule when shopping for fabric that I never buy anything for more than $4 a yard (unless I need a very small amount) because the prices just rack up so quickly!

  5. This happens to me a lot! And mostly because I don't plan well. I miscalculate and I buy the material.. then i mess up and i realize i need a little more and I go and buy again.. and in the end it proves to be more expensive than what it would have been if i had bought it in the first place.
    So yeah.. researching before you start a DIY is very important! I agree!

  6. Haha, this is so true. And you weren't even counting the potential time/cost of your labor. I had a friend who was adamant that making all the tablecloths and such for her wedding would be cheaper than renting, but her fabric choices added up quickly. On the other hand, getting exactly what you want is pleasing, and the labor can be worth the pride of having made something with your own hands.


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