It’s about style, not fashion. (Said no daughter, ever. But eventually she might…)

My afternoon to myself has consisted of sorting the kids clothes into various piles:

1. Too big for beanpole
2. Too small for beanpole, but too big for Tinypants
3. This will fit them this summer if it ever comes
4. Too small for Tinypants

The first three piles have gone into vacuum bags to be stored away, while pile 4 is in a bag waiting to go on to the next child in the line. And of course the cat feels he is helping in his own special way…

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This is a valuable tradition within friends and family of passing the kids clothes on when they haven’t worn holes in the knees. If the clothes are still good, a friend can always benefit from a bag of ‘stuff’. The recipient then keeps the bits they need and passes the rest to a charity shop. When their munchkins grow out of the clothes, the cycle starts again.

We have not yet got to the point where the kids object to the idea of hand me down clothes, and whilst they are developing their own unique styles (even at age 7 & 8!), they already understand the value of upcycling clothes rather than buying new wardrobes every season.

Tinypants possibly has more of an issue with this as she is in a set of friends who are mainly the eldest child from middle class families who are quite focused on their physical appearance (at age 7!!). The poor kid is doomed living with parents who are of the breed who worked out their own fashion and couldn’t give two hoots what people thought. I still happily wear giant flares that I made combined with bright red hair and smartie nails (5 different colours). LSH spent his youth in massive skater jeans combined with some sort of offensive tshirt (this was reigned in a bit once the kids could read) and a giant Mohawk. He ended up a lot more sensible once he landed a decent job, but as he works at home most days while he’s developing SharePoint stuff I cannot claim to understand, he does indulge in some particularly dubious Hawaiian shirts. Poor Tinypants is trying to find her place in the world with very normal friends whilst still being happy in her oddball family. It can’t be easy learning that harsh lesson that girls are often obsessed with the perception of who they are rather than just getting on with being them. Hell, it took me nearly 25 years to work that one out!

So why is the hand me down cycle so important for a child’s mental health? Well, for a start, it is a lesson in valuing those around you by receiving loved items, but also by giving them away. But also, it’s a lesson in making the most of what you have. Not everything is about fashion, but style is important – and stylish isn’t always fashionable. But stylish is you.

Oh, and mummy isn’t made of money!

Child of a Hippy – upcycling for the kids

Another lovely half term day of being just us. This morning was spent cleaning (I know! Even I was a bit shocked) and setting up the Tesco app on everyone’s phones so we can create an online shopping order that each of the adults can build as we think of, or use up stuff.

Note: for those who don’t know, we live as an extended family with my parents, me, my husband and our two children. This is in it’s fourth year (two years since the major house extension was completed) and it’s been an experience which is gradually getting easier. This household shopping app should address one of the current niggles.

This afternoon, I met up with a friend from an online book club with her daughter (the Internet is indeed an awesome place) and whilst they were racing around the soft play we chatted about huge volumes of things, one being my eldest daughters current trouser predicament. She insists on growing despite being the tallest girl in her class and after this week, she is now down to two pairs of wearable trousers. Bugger. This predicament is made worse because despite loving vegetables and hours of racing around and sport daily, she has been blessed with hips and a bum. This doesn’t make for happy shopping trips and I refuse to let her get hang ups about her body just because the general populous under ten is skinny.

This afternoon, we hatched a plan. A friend with equally tall (but stick like) teenagers had given us a bag of clothes to put away for later. I love the cycle of clothing that goes around our friends, but with the inherited hips of her father, my eldest stood little chance of getting into these once her legs were of the required length. So, out come the sewing box….

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The first thing was to measure these teenage jeans against my beanstalk child. The fit around the hips was loose, but comfy (nothing a bit of elastic wouldn’t help).

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The next thing was to fold up the legs to a length more accurate for an eight year old giant child…

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Then, I cut the bottoms off, leaving 1 inch extra for hemming then because we were going to go for something a bit more forgiving than skinny jeans, I used scissors to cut the seam up the outside of each leg right up to the to of the thigh.

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The next step was to raid my fabric drawer for something funky to give these jeans some flare (pun intended!). The beanpole chose some lightweight faus fur in Dalmatian print that I’d set aside for making soft toys. This was measured against the split I had made in the trousers and two rectangles were cut.

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The final preparation was to cut the rectangles into triangle shapes to give the legs the flared shape.

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These triangles were then sewn into the legs starting at the bottom and using the seam allowance in the jeans from unpicking the hem to guide the lines. The seam allowance on the extra fabric was adjusted so that the seams met at the top.

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Finally, a hem was sewn using the inch of extra length left when cutting down the leg length. And it appears that madam rather likes them!

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All this without having to face the shops where the poor kid gets miserable because all the clothes her age are for skinny rakes like her sister and I resort to going to mega-expensive shops which cater for people who have a bit of a bum.