Saturday, November 10, 2007

Buy or Make?

There was a discussion thread over at Craftster a week or so ago about buying vs. making gifts. I've been thinking about it, because some things I just don't buy since I can make it myself, even though by the time I get around to making it, it might be days, months, years later. (Obviously, if it takes that long, then the question is "do/did I really need that?" but that's a different question.)

So I've been thinking why I go one way or the other. I think it comes down to if I can make it better than the store, I don't buy it.

By 'the store' I mean any for-sale locale - it may be mega-department store or the 3'x8' table at a local craft fair or anything in between.

'Better' is subjective. Quality, color, style, texture, price all are a part of it. Which one ranks higher than another for any given item at any given time, well, that's subjective too.

Price is a hard one - if I make it myself, then materials is the only financial cost I have. I'm not looking to cover expenses or turn a profit on the item, but the seller certainly is. Whether I'm willing to pay the difference between the seller's price and my cost, is hugely subjective!

Clothing - Buy. I don't sew well so even if something I make myself may fit better, the quality certainly won't be. Socks, I make. And buy. I haven't worked this one much, except that the ones I make are warmer and fit better. I just don't have enough to stop buying. Not yet anyway.

Hats/gloves/mittens/scarves - Mostly, I make. Waterproof/resistant gloves/mittens for skiing I buy just because I can't make that kind of thing. The other winter wear, I make because I'll use 100% wool not the 100% acrylic at the store. Or if the store does have 100% wool, if I don't like the design, color, size, texture, etc, then mine is better, to me, even if it's technically better-made than what I can make. It's not often I find something for sale that's in a style, yarn, color, texture, etc that I like enough that I even consider buying. And that's before I check the price!

Sweaters - Buy. The dressy sweaters I wear to work, I just can't make those. I want a cardigan/jacket to have at work when the AC is too high, or the heat isn't high enough. That I'll probably make because I've been looking for one for years and I haven't found one I like. Heavier sweaters, I've got in the works, but considering it's taken at least 3 years so far, I haven't gotten to the point where I won't buy.

Kippot - I've seen some gorgeous crocheted ones. I kind of like the beaded ones, but not enough to consider buying or making one. I've crocheted and sewn 4 that I wear. I haven't been able to bring myself to buy any of the crocheted ones yet for few reasons - some designs I really like but I absolutely HATE the yarn used, it just screams "cheap yarn used!" and I know I can make it myself with much nicer yarn. More likely, I like the design, the yarn is good, but either it's too small (I do like larger-than-usual women's kippot, since it stays on better) or it feels too flimsy. I saw one a few years ago that I really regret not getting, it was crocheted in a purple & white swirly design, about the right size, and at $12 it was a bit pricey, but a little splurge once in a while isn't a bad thing. The reason I didn't buy? Dh. He was there and "that? you can make that, why spend the money?" (Now I know why shop-owners hate it when the dh's come with the wives LOL)

Tallit - I made it because I never found one for sale I liked enough to spend $200 on. The one I finished last year took about $30 of materials and more than 70 hours of work. Financially, I admit it made no sense whatsoever to make it myself since it comes to about $3/hour. On the other hand, it's definitely one of a kind (not my intention, but it worked out that way) and I enjoyed (mostly) working on it. I have another one or two in mind, and I'll probably make those too.

Gifts - It depends on the recipient. I have a baby shower for a relative coming up. It's not a close relative, but I like making baby sweaters. So I'm knitting a sweater. And depending on how much yarn I have left over, I'll make matching booties and maybe a hat. Other gifts, usually buy. I don't have many people who are appreciative of hand-made gifts, so I don't bother.

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