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Friday, January 21, 2011

Managing the Wardrobes of Growing Children

Posted by Bel
From Spiral Garden

I recently tidied the boys’ wardrobes and found that Bryce had outgrown most of his clothes, some hardly worn! So onto eBay this week to buy some bulk lots of clothes for him… Each year, I have bought bundles of up to 20 items for under $50, a lot of them quality brand names, all clean, as-new and perfect for a growing child!

I normally have a small notebook in my handbag. I record in it items of clothing the children need, or will need next season. Each child (I have six) has a page, and on their page I'll have notes like "size 2 gumboots", "size 10 tshirts" etc. This way, when I spot a sale or I'm at an op shop, I can check if items are on the list and double-check sizes.

We are blessed to have several family friends with children older than ours. They send big bags of hand-me-downs our way and we go through them and pass some on to other families. Within our homeschooling network in particular, there are often bags of clothes being passed back and forth. At some of our homeschooling Mum's meetings we have a swap table where everyone dumps some clothing, books or other items which are free for others to take and keep. Because we live on a farm, it's great to have pre-worn clothes for the kids to wear outside in the mud - no fuss or bother about dirty or ripped clothing.

The quality of clothing on eBay, in op shops and hand-me-down bags is so high that you'd never know it isn't new. Our children are clean, neat and tidy, reasonably fashionable and happy with their eclectically-sourced wardrobes.

Sometimes I also alter the children's last-season winter clothes so they fit for one more year. With fleecy clothes and flannel pyjamas, I sew a band of contrasting fleece onto each sleeve, and the bottom hem of the top, and either onto the knee section, or the bottom hems of the pants. Skirts can also have a contrasting band sewn onto their hems, for extra length. This is great for clothing which will only be worn at home, and for toddlers who don't mind!

I very rarely need to buy new items of clothing for our children - some underwear, swimwear, something nice for a special occasion and sports shoes are the items I buy new (hopefully at the end-of-season sales, at heavily discounted prices). Shopping like this for kids' clothes is great for the budget, and the environment!

Do (or did) you have children to clothe? What are your tips? What about school and sport uniforms for growing bodies?


alecat said...

Keeping up with growing children sure can keep you busy. :)

I like your idea of the notebook with a page per child. That would certainly make the task of finding things easier.

I've recently made some worn out pants into shorts, and also altered some op-shop nightwear to fit the children.

Bel said...

Of course, pants into shorts! My mother did that for me as a child, and I've done it more than one for my tribe. :) Thanks alecat!

Willo said...

With two boys this is always a challenge for us! We are lucky enough to have a lot of local resale shops to shop and sell at. Often we break even! I also do a lot more for the older one, because I know it will be passed down. Finally, I really like for kids clothes.

Amy Lagerquist said...

I don't have children yet, but am intrigued by, a service where you can buy a box of gently used kids' clothing in the size and season you need in exchange for shipping them a box of your child's gently used clothing. Part recycling, part thrify shopping, provided they have what you're looking for. I'm not sure if they serve international clients, though.

Surviving and thriving on pennies said...

Oh let me tell you!

I have 4 daughters ages 1,10, and the twins are 6. Here are a few ways I save money.

-Tell friends and family you will take any clothing donations from anybody. My husband's co workers send stuff home with him, my sister gives us all her stuff from my niece, and even my neighbors give us stuff.

-All clothes are handed down through the girls. This includes undies because they are from each other and I wash them. Anything unpleasant goes in the trash. My oldest is the ones who gets them new and only when I can find them for cheap.

-Once in a blue moon I go to Goodwill Outlet. Unlike regular Goodwill's that price things individually, this place sells everything by the weight. We get everything from them. Bedding, kitchen ware, clothes, shoe's, missing spoons, etc.

-Hit up yard sales/garage sales. You can find things for super cheap there. I have even found stuff in their free boxes. And always haggle. There is always room for savings.

You do all listed above and I guarantee you that you will rarely ever have to buy anything new. My children all have lovely clothing with no holes or stains. And if they do have holes and stains its for backyard play only.

Honestly the only thing we buy new ever is sports equipment. And since my husband works for a major major sports company, we get a very large discount on them. Both our older girls are in year round soccer so this has helped us save even more money.

Bel said...

What great tips! I don't think we have anything much like ilikeitmama or thredup here in Australia. Or Goodwill which sell by the weight.

Of course our children's clothes are handed down to their younger siblings. The first 3 are all close in age, and girls, so their clothes go directly from one girl to the next. But then there's a 5 year gap to the next girl, and a 4.5 year gap between the boys. So for the two little ones I have plastic tubs marked "winter" and "summer" for each of them. When a quality item is outgrown, it's stored in these tubs. When one of the youngest two grow up a size, we 'shop' from the tubs first. Likewise, any clearance items, op shop buys or hand-me-downs from others slightly big for them go into their plastic tubs.

Georgie said...

I rarely buy pyjamas for my children - worn, stained or almost-outgrown comfortable clothing is great for PJs. They like that they can still wear their favourite Wiggles T-shirt despite that grungy mystery stain, too.