08 April, 2009

Handmade clothes

I've been thinking about handmade clothes a bit in the last couple days, mostly as a result of mentioning a couple posts ago how much I hated having to wear them when I was a kid and Chef Messy's comment that she felt the same too. It's not the first time I've pondered this odd change in my life that I want to inflict handmade on my daughter after being so traumatised when I was young! So what was the problem with the clothes that my mum made? I've decided it was that they looked different to what my friends were wearing - the style was different, the fabrics were different, I looked different when I wore them and sometimes comments were made. Nothing too awful, but when you're 8 most kids exist to be part of the pack, standing out too much may leave you vulnerable to worse things. I also have very good memories of making clothes and enjoying wearing them - but that was when I was older and had some input into the pattern and fabric. There was one time when I loved an outfit in a shop but couldn't afford to buy it, so Mum came with me and we took it into the change room and took a pattern off it. I still can't quite believe she did that actually, she's the most law-abiding person I know! I wore that top and skirt heaps, and it really opened my eyes to the possibilities that being able to make your own clothes open up.

Perhaps I'm luckier than my mum was when it comes to making Hazel clothes - the styles at the moment lend themselves to being replicated or made at home, little crafty details are in, great fabrics are easier to source, and I think most importantly I have a very keenly developed sense of what it feels like to want to belong, to not stick out and be marked as different. Mum was a New Zealander in Canada in the 70s, she was attracted to the hippy-ish style, she was emminently practical and non-consumerist. I'm not necessarily any of those things, or at least...well I might have tendencies (not the hippy thing though) but I still remember how much I longed for a pinky, frilly party dress from this kids store in Edmonton, and how I was never going to get it because Mum just didn't buy or make clothes like that. Hazel got a Barbie tshirt in a bag of second-hand clothes I got her for going to daycare and she was so over the moon about it. I felt bad because it's so not the kind of thing I would ever buy her new, but I could see how much it meant to her. Same as the 'Ballerina Kitty' tshirt she got as a handmedown from Nicole. So I'm thinking that the trick to making clothes for kids that they actually like is to make them for them, to pay attention to what they want and to not insist on your own style preferences. But on the other hand why should I fork out for Dora the Explorer tshirts or duvet covers or Barbie sunglasses when I abhor that kind of merchandising? It's my money, I'm the parent! I want to teach her that buying that kind of thing is just doing that company's advertising for free and strips you of any vestige of individuality you have. I can see it's a fine line, maybe if we both end up being unhappy at various times it means I'm keeping an even keel on the subject. Though I most certainly will draw the line at themed duvet covers and beds. Yuck yuck yuck! But a tshirt occaisionally won't kill me.


  1. I so agree with you over the duvet covers. It is difficult and I am sure there will be times when I am wringing my hands over their choice of clothes.

  2. I do have to admit that I did purchase a few tinkerbell pillow cases for the girls becuase they really love her. I couldn't have themed bedding because it would really drive me crazy not to mention they would grow out of it way sooner than the other bedding they have.
    I also feel some guilt about your handmade clothes because I might have made a comment or two over the years ;P.
    In fact you really shouldn't make me anything considering that but lets not go there.
    BTW you must be having some influence on me because a lady walked into the community health center yesterday and she had a bag made with Amy Butler fabric. In fact I believe you even have some of the same fabric it was green and blue circles I have to look back at some of your other post so see if I can spot it.

  3. Well the only specific comment I can remember about clothing is Rhonda making fun of a top mum made me out of nursery rhyme fabrics. I was really way too old to be wearing something like that although now it would be delightfully retro. I was obviously born too late :P Plus I remember we shared the pain of having those shoes, clod-hoppers I think we called them - saddle shoes?

    Yay, a fabric convert! It's probably her 'martini' fabric, at least it sounds like it. I had a bag made of it when we were in Edmonton.



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