Earlier this month, I made Secundus a and "showcased" it online. Most friends liked its cheery snowman motif and the fact that it had cost me nothing, but one comment stuck with me: "You have too much time on your hands!".
Readers, I am a sensitive soul when it comes to my "career", and this throw-away remark got me thinking once more about Proper Jobs and Decent Salaries. "Is it really worth making things for the Evacuees?" I asked myself. "If I had a reasonable income, I could go out and buy them what they want."
I'm not getting on THAT bus, readers. Working mums. Dual incomes. Disposable Income. It's a debate for another time. But there are many good reasons why sewing things for your family is an excellent thing:
1. Children's clothes are small and quicker to make than adult's clothes. There is less fabric to buy and it is easier to rustle something up. Pick simple projects - books which include paper patterns are ideal - and start small. Make your first project something like sandwich wraps for all the family - plenty to choose from in by Design Collective - and be encouraged by that. Don't head straight for a 63" square classic stippled quilt.
2. You can make things which money can't buy. You can pick the fabric, designs and colours, and create exactly the thing you want, and it will be unique. A lot of love and time goes in to making things by hand, and if your children witness that process, or just part of it, they (MIGHT) appreciate it. If you make something like a top for yourself, you will always notice the little mistake at the neckline. Make a top for your kids, or better still a dressing-up cape, and they probably won't.
3. You can make things you can't afford to buy. Reversible baby shoes, and embellished baby bonnets, embroidered cardigans and pleated Sunday frocks all look beautiful but often have a designer price tag to match. Yet all these projects are featured in by Melissa Wastney, and her designs are the epitome of simple, organic styling with a popular zakka look.
4. You learn skills and develop old ones, and this is good for your brain. Perhaps you have made shopping totes like my Underground one before, but are ready to take this to the next level. A project like Melissa Wastney's messenger bag and matching pencil case might be just right for you to make for your son. Or maybe you are ready to commit to the Whole New Word that is quilting.
If you have children to make things for, you will probably go ahead and actually DO them, rather than just sifting through the beautiful photos in and leaving the jelly rolls on the shelf. After all, you are not making something for yourSELF. That, as we know, can quite easily be put on the back burner.
5. You aren't buying into the system. Especially if you follow Melissa Wastney's advice and upcycle garments of your own, or charity shop discoveries, to make a hooded winter coat, or a button-up cardi. You're passing on the Home Front skills of Making Do and Mending. Handmade items have no logos, or slogans like "Princess in Training" or "Little Monster", which hardly further human enlightenment. Making your daughter's clothes is great if she wants to avoid pink, for example, and if you involve your children in the design process, they can express their individuality. Trousers decorated with space rockets? You can say yes to that one. In addition, you can create garments that are made for CHILDREN rather than miniature adults.
6. If you like sewing, do it. Whether you have children to stitch, knit and upcycle for or not. Nobody else I know would spend an hour making a hot water bottle cover out of an old fleece blanket. That is one of the reasons why I do it.