Friday, May 16, 2008

Frugal Friday--Clothing

Alrighty, so as part of my series on saving the world, I've decided to do a post (there will be more in the future) on ways to stretch a dollar, then turn it sideways and make it stretch some more.
I should add the official caveat that I am still an apprentice at this--my mother is the genius. (Why would that be surprising--she is a genius about most things!)

Frugality is not just about getting by when you're poor, it's about wise use of the money that you have--however much that may be. I believe that buying the costlier (but higher quality) item can be the frugal choice. It's not about saving two pennies now, so much as it is about saving in the long run. This is why I will never ever EVER recommend The Evil Empire (Walmart) as a frugal option. (*gag**choke**Ihatethem*) I will have to do a saving-the-world post about boycotting TEE sometime, but not today.

Anyway, todays tips are about clothing:

Ask the kids how they feel about having holes in the knees of their jeans, or having patches...I never would wear something patched, but I rarely made holes either. If I did make a hole, we didn't patch the pants, we cut them off into shorts or capris. Wolf, on the other hand, puts holes in the knees of everything. I buy reinforced knee pants from Sears, and when they eventually wear through I patch them with scraps of denim from old jeans that were beyond repair. I don't use the expensive iron on patches because they are thin and ironing alone doesn't hold up for very long--I use real denim and zig-zag it on all over the hold and then around the edges of the patch. Sometimes I take scraps of bright, fun fabrics and sew them over the patch on the outside, so that the heavy patching stitches don't show, just the fun funky 'designer' 'patch' from the outside. (When I was in high school and college I used to hand-sew my jeans with embroidery floss in bright colors--I sewed a flower on one back pocket and then made brightly colored accents on various places in the pants, as well as actually sewing shut holes. I loved them, hippie that I am!)
When the patched pants wear though again (and they always do with Wolf!) then I sometimes patch a second time, but usually just cut them off into shorts. If the pants are too far gone to be shorts, then I cut out all the seams/zippers and use the large pieces for denim quilts, and the small ones for patching other pants.

The same basic principles apply to other types of clothing. Buy good stuff, then as it wears out, consider patching, cutting it off (long sleeves with worn cuffs can be cut to 3/4 sleeves or short sleeves), or putting it to a new use. There are cute patterns for making a button-up dress shirt into a little girl's sundress for example. Tee-shirts can make fun logo-filled quilts. Old tees, sweats, or towels can be cut up to make great rags (I use old tee-shirts to make cloth kleenex--it's nice and soft on a sore nose, and I just wash them with the linens or diapers). Smallish pieces of fabric also are fun for beanbags, dress-up clothing, doll clothing, or doll quilts.

Here is a tip on making easy quilts from scraps: pick a height, such as 7". Cut pieces all of the same height, and of whatever width will fit on the piece you have. Sew them all together in rows--the heights will match (giving nice rows) but the the widths will be different (so no columns). Another option is to alternate tall rows (9") with short rows (5")--that's what I'm doing on my current quilt. It's a great way to use both large and small scraps in the same quilt!

Short version: buy quality stuff, patch it when you can, cut it off if it's past patching, and use 'dead' items to make rags, quilts, toys, and patches.

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Oh, by the way, I think it's about time for feel-yourself-up Friday too. Go ahead ladies, do that breast self exam. You know you should.


katef - said...

We don't have Walmart here... and the more I hear about the more I think I am glad that we don't!

My girls are definitely into crazy patching... but usually out problem is that they grow out of the length before anything else. They still wear a pair of size 0 (yes size 0 and they are four years old by they have no bums!) I just added 'cuffs' to the bottom of each leg in bright fabric to give them extra length. Sadly the bum is going in them and they will have to go.... after 3 years of constant wear!!!

Jessica said...

Great tips! Now answer me this: How do you convince Hubby that his hole-y old tee shirt is ready for the rag pile? ;oD

Brightonwoman said...

Jessica--you don't wait and ask him to take it--just swipe it when you're doing laundry (or steal it out of his drawer).

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