Did you read it? Ok, ok, let's talk about it, yes?
Do you like shopping? I hate it. I go into a store and look at the racks and racks of clothes, and I kind of freak out. Too many choices, too much useless "fashion" for me. I have become almost painfully practical, and cannot deal with the fast-changing styles in the store.
But, I admit, I also dislike shops like Goodwill and Amvets. I'm all for hand-me-downs and will take them from people I know, whose homes I've seen and whose care of said items was good. AJ's physical therapist, who has also become a good friend, brings me enormous bags of beautiful boy clothes, and has just offered me several pairs of winter boots for my son. Oh yes! I will definitely take those. But I haven't gotten on the used clothing train as far as second-hand shops. There is nothing wrong with shopping there, I have no problem with anyone else doing it, it just isn't for me at this time.
Rather, I like to buy and make very classic, standard wardrobe items and then wear them out. And I like to either find made-in-the-USA if I can, or make it in the USA, specifically, in my house.
It has long bothered me that the people making our cheap, mass-market clothing are likely very, very poor people, young children, or overworked and abused women in oppressive countries. I think we tend to believe that because the US has strict labor laws pertaining to children and to a legal number of hours worked by adults, other countries do, too.
HA. They do not. The 12 year-olds making our t-shirts in the Philippines are not subject to labor laws, I don't care if they are working under the Target umbrella. And I think it is kind of important to remember that. It is important to know what happens to get those inexpensive clothing items into your closet.
Sure, fabric production is not much better, but perhaps by reducing our insatiable desire for newer and more fashionable clothing we can reduce demand for these cheap items. At least by purchasing the fabric rather than the finished good, I have removed one part of the slave-labor chain.
That said, I broke my self-imposed rule of sewing only from stash today. Our local WalMart is eliminating its fabric department, keeping only notions from now on.
Considering most of my fabric stash is small cuts (1 yard) originally intended for quilting, I've been having trouble scraping up enough to make dresses for Daughter. So when I heard about the WM fabric clearance, I went to check it out.
In this case, spending a little money will turn out to be very frugal in the long run!
For about $30 I got enough fabric to make at least 3 dresses and about 4 or 5 sets of pajamas. This flannel (plus a red piece that is currently being washed), was $1.48 per yard, making even the largest pajamas for Daughter about $4.50. But if I cut carefully I'm betting I can squeeze more (like extra pants for AJ) out of some of these fabrics (where gender-appropriate, of course).
I'm picturing a fall school dress for Daughter - main body being the large print, collar and cuffs/pockets in the small print. About $5 for this. It will be perfect with some white tights (or better yet, handmade knee socks!) and brown buckle shoes. Love!
There are some other pieces too, which we cut right into for a sundress, and a large cut of dark indigo denim for another fall dress (also being washed right now so unavailable for photographing).
And we need to get the kids involved! Cripes, it is so sad to hear about moms and grandmas who cooked and sewed but told their offspring to get out of the way...it is a story I have heard more than once. (Princess getup is optional.)
Or how about some good old-fashioned repurposing? That was big in the "old days" too - you got a hand-me-down dress from your cousin/older sister/neighbor, and your mother made it fit. Gosh, I don't even know anyone who knows how to do that (I do not...I've never learned alteration skills, though I'd like to). Even Martha Stewart is getting in on it - next time one of Hubs' dress shirts wears out, I'm making one of these.
I mean, there is definitely the argument to be made that trying to clothe your family from handmade and repurposed clothing is time and labor intensive. Yeah, it sure is! That is why I am starting my Daughter's summer dresses in February! But if you step back from the relentless pursuit of more, and instead make do with fewer, better items, it could be done. There is a great post about that here, regarding buying and caring for very high quality items for your children, especially if they can be passed down. Why do our kids have to have 5 or 6 or more sweaters, when really 1 or 2 will do? My Daughter currently has about 10 pairs of pants in her drawer (several were Christmas gifts). She never even wears about 5 of them because she doesn't like them.
However, I certainly do not advocate going back to a time when the woman of the house spent every waking minute cooking, cleaning, and sewing. I can't imagine it, really - if I had to make my husband's every sock, I would keel right over. He has humongous feet and it takes me weeks to get through a big boring pair of socks for him! All I'm saying is that I wish we were all a bit more conscientious about our clothing (and our food, too...but that's for another day!) and participated a bit more in the process.
I know I am largely preaching to the choir here, and I promise I won't always rant and rave about this stuff. What I love so much about the internet and the blog community is the prevalence of thoughtful, like-minded women (and some men, too) who are taking back responsibility for what is worn, made, cooked, grown, etc. in and around their homes.
Boring, dreary February is almost over. Easter is coming soon for those of us who celebrate, and hot on the heels of Easter will be Spring and sun and warmth. Are you ready? Let's make stuff!