Thursday, August 18, 2022

Back to School: Extending the life of your kids handmade garments

 It's been suggested that sewing for kids isn't very sustainable because they outgrow what you sew for them!  We LOVE sewing for kids, and don't agree with that sentiment, so today we're sharing 5 ways to prolong the wear of handmade children’s garments.  Yes, these hacks can help the clothes GROW with your child!

Extension #1: Shorten It

This one is a pretty easy one!  After they outgrow the garment in respect to height, you shorten it to use as another garment.  A dress becomes a top, pants become shorts, long sleeves become short sleeves, and so on.  

This works best when you begin with a pattern that has a shorter version designed into it.  Here are some great patterns for just this purpose:

Convert from Dress to Top:

Convert from Pants to Shorts:

Convert from Long Sleeves to Short Sleeves:

Extension #2: Lengthen It

For this tip, you need to plan in some extra fabric when you're making them clothes.  We're talking about making deep hems and adding extra length.  For example, in this Becky Skirt I sewed for my daughter, I added quite a bit of extra length simply by sewing the size she is for width and adding length by extending  along the line to the desired length.    This is illustrated in the photo below.

Becky Skirt pattern added length illustration from Project Run & Play

Most patterns are capable of this kind of extension.  Currently, this skirt is midi length on my 5 year old, and by next year it will most likely be the intended knee length.

The Turnip Up Trousers & Shorts are fun too because you can unroll those turned up cuffs as they grow!

Extension #3: Pass It On 

In other words, hand-me-downs!  (Remember the Hand Me Down challenge during Season 10?) 

If you use good quality fabric/patterns can be worn by younger sibling/another child.  Probably everyone uses this extension, and for good reason!  Here are some pattern suggestions that have built in durability in them so they can be passed down to another child:

Joseph Joggers Pattern (Double knee patches)
Super Tough Jeans (Reinforced knees)
Caraway Cardigan (Elbow patches)
Biography Bomigan Pattern (Elbow patches)
Touka Sweater Pattern (FUN fried egg or kitty paw elbow patches)
Cancun Cover Up pattern (This one is super oversized and they'll be able to wear it for-evah!!)

Extension #4: Add To It

 This is a really great one, and can often be done after the garment is made and they've grown UP and it's too short.  You can add a tier or a ruffle to the bottom of a dress or skirt to extend the length of time it can be worn.

Most skirt and dress patterns can have a tier or ruffle added to the bottom, but here are some that work especially well for this extension:

Extend a dress DIY inspiration

Above you can see a Noel Top & Dress Pattern that I sewed for my daughter in February.  It was knee length (as intended) but by August, she has grown 3 inches and it's almost unwearable!  So I added a 3" tier of lace so she can get another 6 months of wear...hopefully!

Odeline Dress with added tier

In the photo above, you can see how I added a tier to the Odeline Blouse & Dress to make it last longer!

A slightly different version of this is deep hems!  Here are a couple of examples:

Deep hems on pants

Deriving Mommyhood created deep hems on these pants for her daughter in Season 24.  They can be let out as she grows.

deep hem t-shirt

During Season 16, on the pink sequin tee, Sew Chibi Designs used a deep hem to make the Umaru Shirt hip-length.  It also can be let down as her daughter grows.

Pintucks dress

In Season 26, Southern Magnolia Design sewed this stunning dress with pin tucks.  Did you know pin tucks were originally created to make the dress last longer?  The tucks were let out as the child grew!  And we can still do that today to extend the wear on our kids' clothes if we want to.

Extension 5: Upcycle It

When all else fails, or a garment has gone through one or more of the first 4 extension tips we offer her, you can try upcycling!  Here are some of our FAVORITE upcycle ideas:

Quilted jacket for girls

Quilted jacket by Skirt Fixation used up lots of leftover scraps!

Remember when there was an entire Refashion Challenge in Season 8?  Check it out for inspiration.

fabric scrap skirt

And remember when Ajaire made all her old scraps into fabric in Season 9?!?!?

quilted bolster

And one final idea is to use them as stuffing in a floor pouf or bolster.

Free Printable First Day of School Posters

We also have new Back to School digital designs in the shop!

Back to School Digital Designs

If you want to pin it for later...

How To Make Kids Clothes Last Longer

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