Oliver + S

How much is too much?

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    Sarvi @Sarvi

    I was thinking about this while looking over the holiday sewing thread. My kid’s closet is bursting with party dresses. I feel semi-guilty about the size of my stash, so I have been trying to make some inroads, and since I buy small cuts, it limits what I can sew.

    As a result, she has had a new dress for: Easter, Valentine’s, the school’s holiday recital, plus many non-occasions (I saw an adult dress in London and wanted to copy a technique, or found a fabric that matched a pair of shoes she has, or wanted to try a new beading style or dye pattern…).

    Is there a point at which it’s just too much? I’ve been getting hints from relatives that they’d like a spot in the hand-me-down stream (though a special friend still gets first pick) so it’s not that things will really ultimately go to waste. Or is it ok that this is a creative outlet for me at a time when I am putting my career on the back burner while I prioritize a more child-centric way of living?

    I know there’s not a right or wrong answer, but I’m curious to know whether other folks have thought about this, and where you’ve landed.

    Jess M. @mommy2maria

    When you and the recipient are burned out (burnt? Burned? I’m not thinking Englishly today LOL).

    I think of it like this–in all my crafts that kidlet wears/enjoys be it sewing or knitting or quilting–at least 50% of time/costs are enjoyed by me. It’s partially a gift for me, as I love sewing/knitting/quilting. My mom and I always have this conversation, usually around my Birthday:

    Mom: What do you want for your birthday?
    Me: I don’t know, the usuals? Yarn, Fabric? I have a really cute *insert pattern here* that I want to make Maria.
    Mom: But that is for Maria, not for you.

    And every time, I have to explain, yes, but I get to pick the patterns, and fabrics/yarns that *I* want to use, so it is kinda for me too/first. She gets to reap the benefits of my enjoyment! I really like making her things because A) small amounts of yarn/fabrics and B) quick projects and instant gratification (well, reasonably, knitting takes me forever and a day lol)

    So long winded and probably not clear way of saying it is: if YOU are enjoying making all the pretties, and SHE is enjoying wearing them, then keep on keepin’ on!

    • This reply was modified 9 years ago by Jess M.. Reason: Adding more wind
    lilypadmontana @lilypadmontana

    Sarvi I totally understand what you mean and feel like my daughters closet is simply bursting with clothing, dresses in particular! I’ve recently decided to only sew things she really needs or has a particular occasion for. I just sewed her a new Easter/birthday dress even though she needs a new dress like she needs a hole in the head, but I feel the occasion justified it. Plus this will be the last dress I sew her for a very long time (next spring perhaps?). She really needs some other things like a jacket and other wardrobe staples, plus my son and baby due in June all need things as well so it’s not like I won’t have my creative outlet ๐Ÿ˜‰ … I just need to make sure the kids need it before I sew it or else it’ll feel a bit like a time waste to me.

    Masha Richart

    I don’t sew as much for the kids as I used to but that is because things were not being appreciated/worn. So I cut back. But if they wore everything I made them I would probably sew more for them. And actually, as a result of my cutting back, they do seem to really appreciate when I make something. I just made each girl a spring/summer dress for everyday so we will see how much wear they get.

    As far as too much – I agree with Jess that I consider everything I sew to be 50% clothes for the kids and 50% hobby time for me. I think looking at it that way, you can justify more clothing than is necessary ๐Ÿ™‚

    Sarvi @Sarvi

    Great thoughts, ladies. You make some really important points — it will not necessarily always be the case that she wants to wear what I make. Now will I be able to sew from such small quantities of fabric for that much longer, for that matter. Maybe it’s best to just enjoy it while we’re both happy with it.

    There’s also the good point about sewing dresses vs some more practical things. SHe actually *needs* uniform shirts and I can’t find ones I like very much — but I am reluctant to make them myself because they get so thoroughly beaten up. But perhaps I could make her a few more shorts + tops, especially to get ready for summer camp season. With all the biking and clambering, they’re a little more practical.

    Thanks, ladies! Anybody else who wants to chime in, please do, always good to hear how others handle these decisions.

    with love Heidi @with love Heidi

    I suspect if you made them yourself they may stand up to the wear and tear better!

    Nicole @motherof5

    I am always very grateful for pretty hand-me-downs ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I typed a great long post and the internet ate it but, in a nutshell, if you are worried about too many posh dresses, sew the school shirts.
    Use beautiful fine cotton, Liberty facings and pearl buttons.
    I enjoy sewing Hugo’s work clothes almost as much as Trixies pretty frocks as I use lovely fabric, sharp needles and good thread.

    brenda1652 @brenda1652

    Boy I can relate to this. When I was sewing for my kids I made what I enjoyed and they would wear. There was never an issue of them having too many clothes, not until the one and only daughter became a teenager and then I just let her make her wardrobe decisions. She loved hunting down fashions at yard sales, thrift shops and wardrobe closets (she had a few theatre contracts and the wardrobe mistresses would give her items that they wanted to part with). I stopped sewing for her except for a few items that were special requests on her part. The boys wore jeans and tees, one sport jacket each and I did not make those. Now I have 3 little grandchildren and I have not made anything for them. They have so many clothes that are all over their rooms and houses, falling out of crowded dressers and closets and stashed in laundry baskets and many are not even worn before they are outgrown. Here in the US clothing is now very inexpensive thanks to sweat shops in poorer countries and my daughters in law scoop them all up. I’m disappointed as I have so many cute patterns for little ones but I will not go to the trouble of sewing knowing the finished items may very well never be worn. That being said I am debating making the explorer vest from LTTS for each of them and some cargo pants from some nice wind and water resistant fabric that I got from Chez Ami. I have not seen any items like those in their possession so maybe I will make these, still debating. I know they would make for good spring play clothes and functional farm clothes when they visit here. As much as I adore making little dresses my only granddaughter has a choice of many for each and every occasion and day of the week, and many stashed away for her to grow into.This frugal farmwife still shakes her head at seeing the excess that these young ones take for granted. I cannot believe that teaching them by example that quantity over quality and ethical decisions is the most important consideration in owning anything. But, I guess that is part and parcel in being a grandparent, learning to step back, shut up, and just love all of them no matter what! So, for all this rambling I guess my point is that you need to be aware of what you are teaching your kids by example, and owning an excess of anything (that leads to waste and promotes exploitation of working people, kids included, in poor nations) is probably not such a good thing to teach. If the items are appreciated and used, then sew them and have fun.

    Sarvi @Sarvi

    That’s a thought-provoking perspective. If what you buy in stores is unethical and what you make at home is excessive then what do you do?

    Linda @Knitting1

    Sarvi, it’s a lovely, creative thing to do and you should definitely not feel guilty. There are much more harmful, expensive hobbies and it’s a wonderful way to express a love of design, colour and texture. Sew more, not less!

    brenda1652 @brenda1652

    Sarvi: oh dear, I did not mean to come across in the way of thinking that all shopping in stores is unethical. It’s the excessive part of it all that I was addressing. As far as in my home, I buy what I need and cannot make (undies coats, special dress up items for example) and make my everyday clothes and some dress up items. I work at home and don’t need much. You only have excessive clothing for a short while for kids, they grow! My daughters in law shop (excessively, even they admit it) in advance so there is never a need for anything for their kids. There are many sites for fair trade clothing and organic fabrics but I have found them expensive so I limit to buying what I need and shop the sales for fair trade items. My closets are full and I find that if I am totally lazy I can go for about 10 days before I must do laundry for myself and husband. When I had kids here, I had enough to go for about a week or maybe even 10 days for school and play (nor counting special clothes) before they ran out. When I was a single mom of 4 sometimes we went that long before I had time to do the laundry. They always had enough items to make choices but not so many that they did not get worn out. If your kids have too many, how about sewing the next sizes up, at least for basics like tees, pants, pj’s? That way you get to sew, get a headstart on their next growth spurt, and the kids get to see that love and creatively you put into the things for them.

    Sarvi @Sarvi

    Oh, I didn’t take it at all personally, no worries. Just thinking in a broader way about what we do and how it affects the world.

    We buy her uniforms from the required seller, only plain white shirts, socks, and shoes are allowed to be purchased elsewhere. I buy her jeans and swimsuits, she has one pair of each … hm. That’s pretty much it. Any other store bought clothes have been gifts. I think the grandparents are actually rather annoyed that they don’t get to purchase her things!

    But yes, it would be very useful if my sisters would have some girls ๐Ÿ™‚

    Sarvi @Sarvi

    And thank you for the nice comments, ladies!

    mcholley1 @mcholley1

    Yep! Make them while you can!! My 7 year old told me this morning that she “was only going to wear dresses for special occasions now.” It took all my composure to not react! Acting uninterested is my best bet for it being a short-lived phase. I hope it is!! But the older they get the more they want to dress like everyone else. (Here that means sneakers and gym shorts!)

    I feel like an interest like sewing is a great brain activity. Creativity, math, motor skills, etc…. And in the grand scheme of things a relatively inexpensive and benign hobby. (And, as my husband jokes…much cheaper than therapy). Make what you want! I have a friend with three younger daughters that like handmades that get the bulk of our hand me downs, that alleviates some guilt. Maybe you could find someone local to get the surplus?

    And, from someone who has recently started working more and more hours after years home with kids….enjoy it while you have the luxury of time (if only so I can live vicariously)!

    • This reply was modified 9 years ago by mcholley1.
    cybele727 @cybele727

    I agree that it is a 50-50 proposition. My daughter’s wardrobe is huge compared to her brothers. But… he wears jeans and the same 6 t shirts, I swear.

    My daughter goes through these no dress/skirt phases for like a month. It peeves me because pants to NOT stay up on her. She gets narrower as she goes down, so they slide right off.

    But I’ve learned if I add pockets on her dresses and skirts, they are much more likely to become a regular staple. Side seam pockets have become my ally!

    But also, it is why I am learning to sew for me. I know one day she will outgrow the enjoyment, but I won’t. And if she sees me sewing for myself maybe she will want to continue wearing things I make.

    Because really it is 50-50, right now!

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