How much is too much?
4 years agomlinton @mlinton
I wonder this a lot myself. My kids are the very lucky recipients of gently used wardrobes from 2 different sets of cousins and a couple neighbors. All told this means we have tons and tons of clothes, some literally with tags still attached. I packed up my son’s winter clothes last week – 20+ shirts-and this is after I boxed up half of them at the beginning of the season. With every seasonal wardrobe change I have a nagging desire to donate it all, but the clothes are “loaners” in case any of these families have more kids.
That said, I still sew for my kids. (Mostly my daughter, whose hand me downs are a little more worn and have some gaps). It’s my unwind time, and I find I get through the days much better if I can spend 30 minutes or so alone in my sewing den a few times a week.
To the grandma who wonders about sewing for grandkids: try it out. My mother-in-law recently sent our daughter home with a simple tiered skirt she “helped make.” (She’s 2, so I’m not going to speculate how she actually helped.) That skirt is probably worn twice a week, always with excitement about wearing the skirt “grandma made for me!” Your grandkids will love your handmades and be reminded of you whenever they wear them, which I think is a great thing.4 years agomkhs @mkhs
I think about this a lot, too. We get lovely hand-me-downs from a cousin and an older friend. I usually take a few things and pass the rest on to other friends. There always seem to be enough dresses (said cousin gets things from an aunt with a penchant for amazing French hand-smocking), so I try not to make too many of those. Over time, I’ve adapted to get pleasure from making well-fitting things, fabrics I wouldn’t be able to find ready-made (viyella, linen, wool), and fresh, home-made versions of the things that arrive thrashed as hand-me-downs. I make a lot of pajamas! I channel dress energy into nightgowns. I also make sure that we do some shopping at our local kids’ resale place, and occasionally go to get leggings or underwear at Old Navy. I want my daughter to have a lot of different experiences to draw from. We have several special younger people who get her things, and she enjoys going through a pile of outgrown clothes and choosing which ones go to which friend.4 years agososew @sosew
i sew for my kids for me, though lately they are excited about what i’m making, the main reason i do it is its a creative outlet i enjoy and i like seeing them dressed in the finished product.
and i absolutely treasure the handmade (mostly knit) items my parents saved that my grandmother made for me, it is so special to be able to dress my boys in these well loved sweaters and hats i remember. because of this I save a good amount of what I sew (a piece or two from each size) for someday in case one of my children feels the same.4 years agoRoxyrox @Roxyrox
Sewing is a stress reliever for me. I sew mostly for my daughter. She is 9 and only wears dresses by choice. Finding ready made that she likes and is comfortable in decent fabrics has been getting harder and harder. Does she need as many dresses and skirts as she has, probably not. I do it for me, I like to try new patterns and new techniques just to see if I can and what the result will be. It is what I truly enjoy and I am rewarded when she wears my creations. We have someone to pass the dresses on to whose Mom really appreciates the time and energy that went into creating the items.4 years agoroundtheworldgirl @roundtheworldgirl
I was thinking about this thread today. We are blessed/cursed with abundant handmedowns from friends, and as I am very much a waste-not-want-not kind of a gal, I always use everything that fits, is made of natural fibers, and is not super-ugly or inappropriate for my children. This summer that means that they have plenty of clothing. I am really itching to sew both girls some new Badminton skirts and another dress or two but I feel guilty about doing so since I don’t HAVE to.4 years agoMel @Mel
I say if you want to make them and you have the time, go for it and don’t feel guilty! They will become lovely handmedowns to someone else someday 🙂4 years ago
A couple of you ladies have touched on the very good point that even when you receive in abundance, there is still a creative itch that one wants to scratch. I guess I’d never ask myself, how many poems are too many? How many paintings are too many? And yet even though I put as much if not more time and effort into my child’s clothes, I still feel some kind of pressure to make them useful and practical. This is extra weird for me because my field is a creative field, and I have that whole thing on hold while I focus on this phase of childrearing and family life. Why doesn’t this feel on par with writing or filmmaking? Why does working with fiber have to meet the criterion of utility?4 years agoLightning McStitch @LightningMcStitch
@sarvi if you ever want to make something purely for the fun of it then know that i’ll be cheering you on! I seem to be about 50:50 these days on things that are practical and useful, and things that stem from an idea that just had to be made to preserve my sanity! that creative itch can be so strong.
I don’t know many people with older kids, but I wonder if all my making means that nobody thinks to give me ready to wear hand-me-downs.4 years agomkhs @mkhs
Well, for me it’s all tied up in my feelings about consumption, and where our culture is right now in regards to it. I don’t want my daughter thinking that everything is plentiful, cheap and disposable. Clothing is one place that lesson is taught in our household. It feels like a big mix of need, cost, desire, fit, quality, and artistry.4 years agowendy @wendyls
I haven’t posted here for a while, but this topic really struck a chord with me. I started sewing when my daughter was just over a year old and at the time, as much as I was enjoying the very different and all consuming experience of being at home with my baby, sewing was a godsend. It allowed me to explore creatively in a medium that easily fit into my context at the time, and that was the equivalent to a door opening. After a year plus of full on mothering and not much else, I remember feeling like I’d reconnected with a part of myself that I’d temporarily shelved and didn’t have the time to notice how much I’d missed. It was hugely important to me.
Sarvi, if this happens to be your creative outlet right now, I strongly encourage you to feel no guilt about it and just enjoy! As someone else pointed out, it’s not forever. One day your previous, more ‘serious’ creative pursuits will need your attention once again.
I think we feel a certain degree of guilt about sewing clothing because it’s largely utilitarian, but as all of us here know it’s a craft that engages our senses, minds and emotions just as much as any other can. In my mind, that alone nullifies any thoughts of ‘too much’.
I live in a small community where tons of stuff gets passed around, including heaps of kids clothes. It’s a total pleasure for me to add all of my daughters outgrown handmade clothing to the pool. I like to think that it helps to balance out all of the cheap, ‘unethical’ clothing that there is no short supply of. Plus, it’s fun running into one of my dresses when I’m out and about. Call me sentimental, but I like the idea of them traveling. 🙂
These days, I’m working more and so I have drastically less time to sew. I use what time I have to sew for myself, my daughter and the little people in my life. It feels like a good balance, although the Cookie Monster in me will always crave more sewing time and fabric. 🙂 No guilt!!4 years agoLightning McStitch @LightningMcStitch
Wendy I can’t agree more about what a buzz it is seeing my made clothes being worn again. I just received a gorgeous photo from the UK of a beautiful girl wearing my daughter’s outgrown dress and it felt like such a gift to me!4 years ago
Thanks so much, everyone, for chiming in with all your different viewpoints and experiences. Hopefully it goes without saying, but just to reiterate, nothing I’ve written about my choices should be read as a comment on anybody else’s choices. What’s right for one isn’t right for all, and I do find it very useful to hear how others think about things and what conclusions they draw.4 years agokgiff @kgiff
What a thought provoking topic.
And timely as I’m looking to switch out my daughter’s closet and trying to figure out what she has and doesn’t have.
I’ve been very good about buying either sale or consignment ahead for her since she was first born, and she’s had a closet full of Tea, Hanna Andersson, GAP, etc. at a fraction of the price.
I’ve only started sewing in the last few years and the majority of what I’ve sewn as been more costumes/dress up than actually clothes. When I have sewn her clothes, they’ve been really hit or miss. I have a very opinionated four year old who has been picking her outfits for over a year now.
Regardless, I still enjoy the art of making stuff for her, although I am disappointed when she doesn’t wear something I’ve made. I’ve gotten much better about asking her opinion and thoughts on things — although the last few times I’ve asked, she’s said she wants “a dress with a cape.”
I’m starting to pull out the size 5s I have bought over the years. I have a few fall/winter size 5s that I’ll put out next fall, but I have no 6s stock-piled. And I’m pretty sure those days are over — except for maybe some basics.
We’re starting a new relationship of design director and seamstress. Actually it’s not really new, it’s a relationship that’s been developing over the last few years. And yes, there will become a time when having clothes mom sews will be uncool, but until then, I’m going to enjoy making whatever she lets me make for her.4 years agodubhels2003 @dubhels2003
I’ve really enjoyed this thread, and everyone’s different approaches. It has also made me reflect on my husband’s hobbies!
In terms of too much ‘stuff’, before the creation has even started I collect patterns and fabric. I have spent years saying I will use it, but the reality is that I will never use all of the patterns (mostly vintage) and the fabric will take me a long time to work through.
In terms of what I make for my kiddies, I am making more and more, rarely pretty dresses. I am making what they need at the moment, increasingly in collaboration with opinionated Lady E. I like the fact they are made by me and I prefer the ethics of homemade where at least I take the production element out of a sweatshop.
More than anything I love the mental and physical process of making clothes, the creativity and the touch of making. That is my hobby. My husband and I have always argued about our mutual hoarding tendencies and I have always argued that my sewing hobby produces a useful output (as opposed to collecting lego!). In reality, going back to my admission of pattern and fabric collecting, I collect for the sake of collecting too.
That said, the most important thing for me is the making, and I will make for anyone who will let me when my kids don’t want things. My Mum, at my request, recently sat down with a design I had for a cape based on an Alexander McQueen one I had seen. She made it for me as my Christmas present. It is amazing. So I (all of us?) may experience a lull in demand from the offspring, but they will inevitably go the full circle and want homemade, and I can’t wait to indulge in whatever they want, hopefully making as many self designed, complicated, difficult fabric based projects as possible!4 years ago
Great comments, ladies, thank you for chiming in!
I too have a big stash that’s a result of buying things I love without a specific plan for them. Once I started using apparel fabrics I really preferred them, and that was helpful in cutting back some of the impulse buying, as these fabrics don’t come out on the same kind of schedule as new collections by my favorite designers from the quilt world (loosely speaking, there’s a lot more variety in base fabrics now than when I first started — now you get the same fun prints on voile, lawn, jersey, etc. and it’s not just a quilt world anymore). I do have to be careful walking into
the candy shopMood. It’s dangerous in there 🙂
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