Home Ec: The Art of Transforming Clothes

Home Economics is all about teaching our kids to work with what they have. Knowing how to do simple tasks that used to be common. Today, we live in a wasteful culture and many of these ideas have been put aside in favour of the “throw it out and buy new” mentality.

When I was little we didn’t have a ton of money. We wore hand-me-downs from cousins and friends (or siblings since I was the youngest). I watched how my mom created things from nothing. I distinctly remember her holing herself up in her bedroom one year, creating a wedding dress for my barbie doll to give me for Christmas. A wedding dress, People! I will never forget that. It might be one of the only gifts I actually remember getting as a kid, made even more special now since I know how much work went into it!

Now, as a mom, who is trying to be frugal and a good steward of the things that we have, I have learned various ways of remaking clothes to work across seasons and kids.

Today I’m going to share just a few ways that I transform my kid’s wardrobes across seasons. Some of these I have shared in previous blog posts, but I’m going to place them all here for easy reference. There is one more, really neat, idea that Jessica (my blog helper) is going to share at some point in the coming weeks but I’ll keep that one a surprise. =)

The Art of Transforming Clothes

1.Cut off pants into short – or make into skirts. I’ve shared a bit about this here. Turning pants into skirts is another fun thing I like to do. W loves her long jean skirt that I made her this Spring. I also did one (that we passed on to someone else) where I cut off the legs, leaving the zipper intact, and used different strips of fabric to create more of a country boho style with gathered layers. We’ve also done a knee length one that allows you to use just the jean legs to finish it so it’s all jean, unlike the one below that has the extra fabric panel.

2. Cut off long sleeve shirts to make them short sleeved. This is a great way to prolong your child’s wardrobe past one season. The thing is, if you do pass clothes down to younger kids, you can always reattach the sleeves (or add a different colour sleeve) to make it work for the winter again. I’ve added sleeves to shirts for my littles the same as I’ve cut them off for the summer. I didn’t even hem the one below because as I’ve said before stretchy fabric rarely frays.

3. Save old clothes (or buy cheap items) and use them to make new ones. I’ve used strapless dresses (which I would never wear) to make new dresses that were more my style. Straight skirts can have panels added to make it a-line. Oversized sweatshirts or t-shirts can be cut down to make them fit either yourself or your kids. My son has made t-shirts for himself this summer from some his dad was getting rid of. One, he accidentally sewed wrong (and ended up making a hole in) so we adjusted it and added a panel to make up for the part we had to cut off. I’ve made shirts from old skirts, cut up vintage bed sheets, etc. The proverbial pillowcase dress literally comes from pillowcases (works great for young girls.

4.Share clothes. This should be a thing, but I find now, everything is about making a buck. Instead of sharing things people “sell” them. I much prefer the idea of sharing clothes among each other. Imagine how much money we could save by passing clothes around? I have a friend whose son is in between my two and it works great for us. When my oldest grows out of his clothes, I pass them on to this other boy, and when he grows out of them his mother passes them back to me. Then I pass them on to another boy a little bit younger than my youngest. Thus, one item of clothing can get at least 4 uses out of it. Sometimes those clothes even come second-hand – giving them such a long life compared to this constant cycle of buying new or even purchasing second-hand. It’s all about being a good steward of what God has given us.

What are some other ways you can transform clothes or scrap fabrics? To me, this is an art form. Art is one of my favourite subjects and teaching our kids to see it in everything we do is a great way to make even simple things look fun and interesting.

I saw this neat article the other day and wanted to share this here as well. For those who don’t have a sewing machine but still want to teach their kids the art of transforming clothes, learning to sew by hand can be so beneficial. There are many cultures today who still employ this technique. I’m thinking of trying it out myself and seeing if I can create an entire outfit by hand. It might be more difficult with the stretchy fabrics with stitches popping but might still be fun to try! Check it out at TheDreamstress.com

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About Amanda Cunningham

Amanda worked as a full-time school teacher for two years before getting married and having three wonderful kids. She blogs about faith, family, food, and fun. While crafting takes up a lot of her extra time, Amanda also strives to help others through ministry in her church and in the community. Amanda, also known as Mae, works as the church music director and homeschools two of her three children