Five ways to make your kids clothing last longer

So I've just spend a week with my best friends daughter, I haven't seen her for almost a year, and wow how she has grown! The girl loves her dresses, she only wants to wear pretty dresses that she can twirl in… even when she's sleeping!  But one of the problems with this is, she's going through her favourite dresses like no ones business and then getting upset, because she can't wear them anymore!  I'm sure you can feel her pain?  So let's talk about how you can help keep those favourite clothes lasting longer, so there aren't tears in the mornings.

Here's my five top tips for making those favourite outfits last longer and hopefully give you a calm morning route for a little bit longer…

1.  Buy less, but buy better

Children's clothing brand | Little Pegs | Pile of t-shirts made from high quality fabric and sewn with care

Fast fashion is great for cheap clothing, but they don't last! The quality is poor, they loose their shape after a few washes and then there's tears because they can't wear their 'most favourite top in the world'!  I believe that buying better quality clothing in the first instance, will not only allow the clothes to last longer, but you can also buy less.

I know you're probably thinking … well that’s all well and good Jenny, but how will this make my kids clothes last longer?  I've already talked about the fact that although better quality clothing is slightly more expensive there are bonuses to the cost.  It's called 'Cost to wear', which is the break down of how much you'll spend per wear on an item of clothing in relation to how long you'll have it, and it's quite normal that when the rule is applied, the higher-priced clothing wins out and is far cheaper in the long run.  You also get added bonuses; expensive clothes tend to be made in smaller batches, meaning more time and care is taken in making the pieces, producing longer lasting clothes, with high quality fabric and stitching that has been designed to help hold better over the years.

Which means that you're probably less likely to spend more later on. If you buy less you're more likely to mix and match their clothing and if you buy smart, the clothes won't go out of fashion, but there's more… buying better quality means that they'll wash better, so there is more chance of you being able to reuse, resell or pass them on when your little one has out-grown them; you could actually make that extra cost back. So it's a win-win situation!

2.  Caring for your clothing

Washing machine highlighting the importance of washing at 30

I was an avid 40° washing person, once upon a time, it's how I was brought up, hot water equaled cleaner clothing, but actually washing at 30° is not only better for our clothes, but the environment too and it actually cleans our clothes just as well.    If we look back in time when washing machines didn't exist they used washboards with soap and low temperature water, so why have we started to think that the only way of cleaning clothes is by high temperatures and long cycles? when in fact hotter water not only damages the clothing it's also more harmful for the planet. 

Clothes don't actually need so much heat it's more about the abrasion and the soap that you are using.  The spin cycle helps to move the soap powder around, it also loosens and lifts the dirt and germs from the clothing, making them clean and fresh, without damaging the clothes.  Okay, but it's kids clothing! Yes those inevitable food spillage, or the crawling on a dirty floor or the wiping the face with the sleeve, because they didn't get given a tissue… we've all been there! But stains and germs come out even at lower temperatures and today's washing powders have been designed to wash at lower temperatures allowing for the clothes to stay newer for longer, without the colour fading so quickly and by using lower temperatures means it's less likely to loose it's shape.  So by washing at lower temperatures, washing less regularly, doing full loads, using chemical free powders and by line drying instead, you will see a difference in the colour and the fit of you and your little one's clothing.

The caring can't just stop there though, we need to start folding and hanging our clothes - yes I know I can hear you laughing in the background, but by simply folding, hanging and putting away not only helps to keep those clothes lasting longer, it also encourages your little one's to start to take care of their own clothing - It can even be a fun activity to do with them!! Maybe!!

3.  Let's talk about mending

A selection of sewing threads, with a needle, thimble and scissors

Okay, so we aren't all mum's that can sew or repair, and actually with fast fashion who needs to repair or patch clothing because it's cheaper and less time consuming to throw it away and buy new… right? but there are some real benefits to repairing slightly damaged clothes and actually your kids will probably love the solution.  The best bit is that you don't even have to pick up a needle and thread if you don't want too!

You can get a great selection of iron on patches from https://www.etsy.com/ or your local haberdashery shop, most of the time they come in single or packs… so you always have a spare one ready for the next hole.  There is always the inevitable question how long will it last? In most cases it'll last at least 25 washes, but it will just depend on how you iron the patch on, a quick tip for making them last longer….

Firstly don't use steam, steam actually makes the patch lose it's stickiness, to stop the heat from burning the patch and the fabric you'll just need to apply a cloth over the top of the patch.  Put the iron on the hottest temperature, place the patch over the hole, cover it with the cloth (a tea towel is your best option) then keep the iron moving for about 30 seconds then turn the clothing inside out, continue to iron over the patch for another 30 seconds, remember don't use the steam!

Alternatively if you don't mind picking up a needle and thread or even have a sewing machine at home there are a great selection of normal patches on Esty, but a little tip for those of you that didn't know I would always recommend ironing some fusing web onto the damaged area first so there is no fraying or further damage being caused after the patch is sewn on. 

If it's just a small hole then you can just use a bit of fusing web on the inside of the garment and push the hole together and iron on the fusing web, just be careful this won't last as long as a patch, because we all know that kids run around like lunatics! If you have the time I'd recommend that you pick up a needle and thread to add extra strength to it - there are some great easy stitching methods that can look super cool on their clothing, the best bit is you don't need to be an expert with a needle and you can find tutorials on YouTube to help you.

Alternative why not create your own patches from old clothes or get your kids to make their own designs.  My top tip for doing this is by creating a patch from some old clothing or get your little one's drawing printed onto a piece of old plain fabric and iron on some heavy weight fusing web to make it stronger and then either using a tight zig-zag stitch on your sewing machine or alternatively hand sew the edges using a blanket stitch to stop the fraying and hey presto you have a homemade patch ready to be sewn on when needed.

4.  Repurpose/Redesign your clothes

So just because your garment can't be worn as they were design to be worn, it doesn't mean that they need to go into the bin!  There are so many ways of redesigning clothing, so that you get that little bit extra wear from them and a new outfit!

Children's clothing brand | Little Pegs | Little girl sitting on stairs wearing her re-purposed flamingo leggingsMy best friends daughter absolutely loves her Little Pegs flamingo printed leggings, she's had them for over a year, but the inevitable happened and the hole in the knee finally appeared.  So I got a FaceTime call the other day asking for my help! My friend has always had an allergy to any type of sewing or fixing of clothes - in fact when I go to visit I have a pile of clothes waiting for me to mend!   I haven't been able to visit them in a while, so she called me up to see what she could do (that was easy peasy!) so the leggings could keep being worn and she didn't have to deal with the tears every morning!.  So out came the scissors and she cut them above the knee and bought herself some iron on hem tape and turned them into cycling shorts…. Not only was her daughter over the moon with her new look leggings, but my friend  was extremely proud of herself for being able to do this for her daughter! And the left over fabric didn't go in the bin… her daughter wanted it for her dolls house, so that her toys could sleep safe and sound under flamingo printed duvets.
If you don't have any iron on hem tape, then just roll them up as jersey doesn't fray and if your little one doesn't want to use the fabric for their toys, then you can cut them up and use them as household dusters or cloths to wipe their faces!

There's also the option to re-purposed, make something new from something old! Now, re-purposing is definitely for you sewers, but that doesn't mean that all you non-sewers out there can't also re-purpose with a little bit of help! There are probably loads of workshops nearby you (just Google it), YouTube video's and people out there that can help.

It's a great way to keep memories alive, or you can just create little in-expensive gifts for your family and friends. 

I love to re-purpose clothing, it one of my past time when I have time (which is

Re-purposed pair of jeans made into a washing peg bag

becoming less and less at the moment) one of my best re-purposed projects was my washing peg bag! I had a pair of jeans - which were at that point of pure comfort, but of course the crutch started to disintegrate and I just couldn't get rid of them, at the time my old washing peg bag had started to break, so I decided to turn part of my jeans into a washing peg bag!  I just loved it and so many people then asked me to make them one!! It was a simple idea, but I've had it now for much longer than the original peg bag! And yes, I know your thinking.. I've been trained in sewing and pattern cutting, but if you have an idea you've just got to have a go.

If you're looking for a few homemade gift idea's for Christmas, I have uploaded a series of soft toy patterns, which are free to download on the Little Pegs website, so that you don't have to worry about creating a pattern! 

If you have other ideas, want some advice or just need help bring something to life I'm always happy to help if I can, email me at jenny@littlepegs.com :)

5.  Did you know that you can composed your clothing?

Scrap fabric cut up ready to use for compost

Kids love to grow things, so why not encourage them to also use their old clothes to help grow their favourite sunflower, or veggies?  You'll have to be careful, because it will only work with biodegradable fabrics… 100% cotton, silk, wool, cashmere, hemp, bamboo or linen.

Just remember that anything that has a man-made fibre in it won't compost and will actually take about 200 years to break down and more than likely damage your plants.

Here are some quick rules that you need to follow if you want to make this a fun activity for your kids to do.

    1. Cut the fabric up into tiny squares - the smaller the better
    2. Remove anything that won't biodegrade - like zippers, buttons, labels etc…
    3. Add worm friends to the compost pile they will really efficient at processing organic waste. 

This is one of the best ways of creating a circular fashion system, because by putting them back into the soil you are basically putting the fabric back to it's original source and can give back to the organic matter that it came from.  If you would like to learn more about composting your clothes check out this great blog at https://yuzumag.com/can-you-compost/old-clothes/, it not only gives you step by step instructions, it also give advise on how to tell if it is a biodegradable fabric and a great little science project for you and your little one's on a rainy day!

Want to learn to sew?

If you really don't know how to sew or would like to start to learn, so that you can start to save money by not buying so many fast fashion pieces of clothing for your little one's then there are so many other options to learn … with today's need to improve the environment many people have started to create repair cafe's, which have all the resources you might need to mend a piece of clothing and with that comes with a few experts to help you get started check out this website for a repair cafe near you https://www.repaircafe.org/ or watch this space as I'm about to embark on a Little Pegs YouTube channel that will offer tutorials, tips and tricks and 'how to' video's for all levels of sewing skills. Subscribe now and join the redesign, repurpose and repair journey with me :)

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