I’d like to tell you a little something about my good old dad. A thrifty man and welder by trade, he easily and often wore the knees out of his work jeans. True to his stingy style – he refused to throw the jeans away and get new ones (even though his company would pay for them mind you!) – no, no…he cut those jeans off at the knees – flipped them around and hand-stitched them back on so that the holes were now on the back. To torture me, he would wear them to pick me up from high-school - along with his fluorescent orange safety jacket and goofy grin!
These days, I’m taking a leaf out of his book! With everyone trying to save money during the economic craziness, I’ve compiled a little list of ways to get more wear out of your wardrobe and waste not-want-not as a ‘certain someone’ used to quote to me!
Kids clothes are always turning up in the laundry with mysterious stains, holes and other delights. I won’t throw something away unless it is 100% trashed – there are lots of fun ways to fix the problems!
*Cut pants off just above the holes to turn into shorts. Leave the edges exposed, or hem, serge or add elastic or ribbon for a decorative edge.
*Make funky patches – patches don’t have to be giant squares! Cut a fun shape (heart, star, circle etc) to sew over the holes. These comfy pants now have plenty of life left in them with sturdy corduroy hearts on the knees – sewn on my hand with embroidery thread.
*Browse the craft store for fun and inexpensive iron on transfers & iron on appliqués to cover up those dreaded stains!
*Make your own appliqués with leftover fabric scraps – these can be sewn on, or ironed using a transfer kit.
My friend Morgan of the Polka Dot Parlorhas made adorable appliqués for her children’s clothing – here are some examples:
*Save and cut cute embellishments or images from otherwise-useless clothing to adorn other items. I keep a pile of these ready to sew onto a plain top, or cover a stain on something else.
This top was way too small for me, but I loved the crochet flower on it. I cut it out and used it to cover a stain on my daughter’s pants!
*Dye! While expecting my first baby – and being on a student budget – I scored plenty of onesies and other clothes for next to nothing at thrift stores. Some of them were in a less-than-lovley condition, so I dyed and tye-dyed my pregnant little heart out to create a wonderful colorful wardrobe for my babe! A great source for dye (including low impact/more eco-friendly) can be found at http://www.dharmatrading.com. Dying is a fun activity to do with your kids this summer – gather a bunch of rubber bands and scrunch/roll/twist/tie your clothing then submerge it into your pots of dye (follow instructions on pack) for some magical creations.
Badly Fitting Stuff:
If clothes are just too small and can’t be used for anyone else in the family – save the cute embellishments or images to be sewn onto something else – a bag, shirt, skirt, quilt. Chop up old t-shirts to make into new clothes (see May article for more ideas!), headbands, doll clothing, quilts, rag rugs.
My 2 year old had a few onesies that we never seemed to put on her – one was too small, one was too big – so I chopped off the ‘onesie’ piece at the bottom to create new, wearable things for her!
By piecing the too-small-onesie with a ‘skirt shape’ of fabric from an old T-shirt of mine, I was able to make a quick and easy dress or longer top.
With the onsie that was too big, I cut off the bottom and a few inches from the sleeves and sewed on the serger with a lettuce edging for a fun new top - this project took me less than 10 minutes to do!
Something needed to be done about some very comfy but high-water pants of mine – so I cropped them off to make capris – with a funky slanted leg and little slits in the sides. I used a wide zig-zag stitch on my sewing machine and stretched the fabric as I sewed to get this edging – my daughter thinks they now look like fairy pants!
Plain Ol’ Boring:
If you’re anything like me – you get bored of your clothes much too quickly! I try to jazz plain items up to keep the love alive – with vintage doilies, buttons, trims, scraps from other clothing items etc – makes me feel like I’m getting a new wardrobe (almost)!
Does your husband have a button down shirt that you just hate? Turn it into a cushion! The easiest way to make a pillow-case is to cut 2 matching squares – one from pretty fabric and the other from the front of a button down shirt…sew them together with right sides facing one another and voila! You have an easy to get on-and-off pillow case! (and chances are your man will never look on the backside of the cushion…)
So my challenge to you this summer is to look out for all the potential in all your not-so-favorite clothes and see what you can chop off, sew on, change, fix and wear again! Most of these ‘alterations’ can be made while sitting at the beach or park, or watching a happy movie at night…you’ll feel as proud of yourself as great-grandmother did darning her socks by the fire, and your thriftiness will be sure to go down in history…just like my dad and his patchy-pants!