Back to School Wardrobe

In preparation for the kids’ “back-to-school” wardrobe I decided to audit the kids clothes. Since I’m still on my make-everything-for-a-year plan, I figured I’d have work to do.

I decided, basically because I’m quite lazy about laundry, that they each need a weeks worth of outfits. For P that means 7 pants and shirt combos for P, and same for M, although some of her outfits might be dresses. As well, each needs 3-4 sweaters and enough pajamas to get through the week (so maybe 3-4).

One day at M’s naptime, I kneeled on the foot of her bed and packed away several pants, tops and dresses that were too short. And after all that culling, it turns out… they don’t need anything! Some of P’s pants and sweaters will likely be too short in a few months, and they could both use some cooler weather pajamas. I will also try to make M some more ‘fancy’ things, since her sweaters are mostly sweatshirts. But there are no immediate necessities required, so I can get to those ‘in due course’.

I was amazed that almost halfway through this challenge it’s been really easy to keep up with what they need. Although when I mentioned that to my mother her reaction was: “You CAN’T send him to school in homemade pants.” Why not? “You just can’t.” After considering that for about 30 seconds, I decided, if he’s traumatized at age 22 because someone made fun of his funky pants, I’m prepared to deal with the consequences. Strangely he was wearing home made shorts the day she made that comment, so I’m not exactly sure how to take it, but probably best not to think about it too much.

Since I didn’t need to make P a new back-to-school outfit, and part of my goal here is not doing too much work unnecessarily, I opted for a “retrofit” or something store-bought. Took about 30 seconds to stencil a little “P” on his Gap tee with fabric paint. I also wrote “I love you” on the (inside) collar with a Sharpie so that he’d have the message with him on his first day. That kind of counts as hand-made, right?

First Day

Oh, and the sign says “I’m starting kindergarten. When I grow up, I want to be a: Personal who sees what’s in the ocean and the moon.” I’m feeling like the overall concept would have worked better if he’d just answered Astronaut, or Marine Biologist, in which case I could have written it all in larger, more readable font. However, he would not be limited to those obvious choices.


I feel like I have to ‘fess up as I went clothes shopping today despite my one-year challenge. Not for the kids, but for moi. I have been in court quite a bit in the last while, which has reminded me that I am desperately in the need of a new suit. I didn’t get a suit but I did buy two blazers and a dress that will tide me over until I can find the right suit. I want to buy something that will last 10 years, sort of like the last really good suit I had.

While I did sign up for an online suit jacket course, and have watched some of it, I do think a blazer is one of those garments worth paying for.

While shopping, I realized that this four-month clothes shopping hiatus has really changed my attitude about what to buy. First, I rejected several extremely well-priced items where the fit was a teensy bit off. Also I found myself checking what everything was made of before buying. Also, I’m feeling good that these are sort of legacy items as they are all extremely well-made and quite classic. They’re more expensive (though it was a 50% off sale) than I usually buy but that was okay since I’ve been so restrained lately on the clothing front.

There may be a few more work-related items purchased at some point in the future this year, but no impulse buys. On the kids I have remained strong and plan to buy nothing unless it’s something I really can’t make… haven’t even caved on socks yet.

Weekend Round-up

A weekend that goes by without any sewing at all is a sad weekend indeed. I was laid up for 3 days this week with the stomach virus from hell. Have you ever had an illness where you seriously wondered “Could this could kill me? And if it would end this pain, would I be okay with it?” Because that’s where I was at this weekend. Not only too sick to sew, but too sick to knit, which is sick indeed. And then of course I had to work all weekend to make up for the off days. I don’t usually like to use the word “Sigh” as punctuation but… SIGH!

On the bright side, I did start a sock-making class at my local yarn store. When I decided to do my one-year challenge, I said that I wouldn’t make socks and underwear. But then I thought, but how would I make socks if I wanted to? I looked up a pattern in a book and it seems pretty complicated, so when I was pretty excited when I saw this store offered classes… I won’t apologise for what gets me excited these days! If you see me taking an underwear course, you have permission to snicker.

I don’t intend to knit every pair of socks the kids need this year, but I’d like to try and make one each. I’m actually making the socks for J though since I almost never sew for him, and since I needed to give some sort of reason for why I was spending two hours of our anniversary in sock-making. He was a bit underwhelmed at the prospect of socks, but I have no (well, only a few doubts) that once he tries them on he’ll change his mind!

At the class I learned that I have been casting on an entirely unusual way. A friend’s mother showed me how to do it when I was seven, and I’ve been doing it the same way ever since, but what I was doing was a cable cast-on and there’s another way, apparently. I have quite a bit of homework to do for that class, so knitting may take center-stage this week too, although hopefully I will finish my Crescent Skirt soon. That’s my current work-in-progress.

So, I am now over a month into my one-year clothing challenge and am proud to say I have bought nothing for myself or the kids during that time. In that time, I have made M a top, two skirts and a vest. I made P a pair of pants. I’ve made myself two dresses (one work-friendly, one-casual) and a blouse. So despite a weekend without sewing, not too shabby overall. If it seems like P is getting short shrift, it’s party because I want to do some knits for him, and am saving up for a new serger. After years of being relatively indifferent about what he wears, he has decided within the last couple of days that he only wants to wear either a Lightning McQueen tee or a one with a robot on it, so I’m going to have to find some jazzy knit prints to make sure we don’t all lose our minds.

One-Year Challenge

Have I told you about this crazy idea I have?  I was complaining in a recent post about how, between fabric and patterns and notions, sewing can easily become an expensive hobby.  I don’t want it to be just another excuse to spend money.  For one thing I can’t afford it.  So I was thinking about the reason that store-bought clothes are so much less expensive: economies of scale.  Despite making lots of my kids stuff, I still end up spending a lot on store-bought clothing.  If I cut that out, and focussed solely on handmade, then I’d probably have few inefficiencies in my own sewing spending.  Every scrap would be used.  There’d be less fabric just being stored.  And cutting out those impulse expenditures every time Gap has a 30% off sale would save those expense.

I mean, maybe it won’t even be that hard.  My kids already have a lot of clothes.  So they really don’t need that much unless one of them has a major growth spurt.  I also think I could learn so much by committing to that for a year.  I won’t say I’ll never slip up, but I will only do so where truly necessary.  I mean technical clothing for example – if the kids need snow pants, I will buy those.   But my goal will be if I CAN make it, I will.  But there’d have to be an exception for socks and underwear.  And what about sweaters?  Should I commit to making sweaters?  I suppose I could.  I haven’t knit in ages, but you can make new sweaters out of old thrifted ones… that would count.

So as you can see I am still outlining the parameters, but as of now, the challenge is on.  If I do end up buying anything, I’ll document it here for full disclosure.  Hopefully it won’t be like my “Only Victorian novels for a year” challenge.  I set that goal in November, and while I’m still doing that, but I won’t deny my reading pace has slowed significantly.  When the weather warms, the mind longs for chick lit.  Also, Bleak House nearly did me in.  I have to treat these lengthy challenges like a marathon and not a sprint, so I have to start slowly so as not to wear myself out.

I am even contemplating imposing the “no store-bought clothing” requirement on myself, but I have to spend some more time coming to terms with that as I tend to engage in quite a bit of retail therapy.  But really, I do have a closet full of perfectly serviceable clothes sufficient for each season, and there’s no reason why much or any of it would need to be replaced.  There are things I want, but nothing I particularly need.  Plus, no more BR sales means more money for shoes!  We’ll see…