Monday, September 27, 2010

Sewings for Kids and Peer Pressure

(Adults', mostly...)

It was brought to my attention recently how much the style of my homesewn kids' garments differs from what children "normally" wear.

I honestly hadn't thought about this in a long time, and certainly not considered it when choosing what (style) to sew next.

Now the situation is a bit different from two years ago when I started sewing more, and started sewing for my children. DS was four then; he is now six years old and has started first grade.

He likes what I'm sewing and is, funnily, more self-conscious when he wears RTW garments which he is given sometimes which "look like adult clothes" (his words, when refusing to wear something).

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. Am I setting DS apart through his homesewn clothes? Should I care?

I'm sure everyone has a story to share on this from their own childhood. Mine's this: My parents refused to buy me "brand name clothes". I'm not sure whether I was treated differently, but I would have loved to fit in. Now, ironically (or not), I'm glad I had this training of being different/doing my own thing.

What do you think? How have you handled this with your kids if you sewed for them?

Thanks for weighing in, and happy sewing!

(Parting shot: decidedly unfashionable appliqué for DS's new pants.)


  1. I have this conversation with myself pretty often... but basically my conclusion is that the clothes that "regular" kids wear are a] ugly b] poorly made and c] routinely inappropriate for the age intended (according to me, of course). I do not think a 6 year old needs to wear a micro mini skirt, a leopard-print bra and trashy vinyl go-go boots.

    I try to balance out what I make for my kids with the more well-made end of the RTW market. But we'll see how it goes as they get past 1st and 2nd grade....

  2. How funny you should post this today, as this morning I was thinking about it as I cut out some decidedly unfashionable pants for my little guy. He's the youngest in his school/peer group and I always worry about him fitting in. Am I helping or hurting by "making" him different?? He, too loves to wear the clothes I sew him, and prefers them to RTW. I like to think that the most important thing is that he is happy. Oh, the troubles and fears these wee blessings bring us!

  3. My little ones are still very young, but already start to have an opinion about their clothes. And they may. They have a say in what they wear and what not. For now they love to wear what I am sewing for them, but I mix it with rtw, because I simply don't have the time to sew everything. And in the future I still think it will be a combination. But as I said: They can have a say in it and are pretty free in what they want to wear and what not.

  4. I think that if he prefers to wear the clothes you sew him - then great! They will get to an age when they no longer like it - and then there will be special requests for things they want, and they may ask you to make it.... just go with the flow!

  5. My kids loved to wear home sewn clothes when they were little. Now at 18 and 14 they prefer store bought casual clothes, but I still make special occasion clothes. They concede that I offer better value for money. I make the dress, they get "the" shoes.

  6. My parents did let me have "cool" clothes, to a point, but I can't say it helped me socially or develop my style. I was still lost. :-) I agree that if he's happy, that's what matters now. Maybe bring it up every once in a while, though. When he does decide he'd prefer store-bought, he might feel bad telling you!

  7. I sew for m grands. My 10 year old has become very self conscious about what she wears. Her mom just told me that from now on to just make her some Sunday dresses, nothing for school. She doesn't even buy her stuff RTW unless miss 10 is with her. They just want to fit in.
    I remember one of my daughters when she was also about 10 telling me that the things I made for her were too cute and pretty. Her friends wore jeans and tshirts. Being a school teacher, I know how important it is for kids to fit in. So, I quit making her such cute things.
    At some point it was only dresses and for special occasions that I got to sew for my girls. I see that coming with the grands as they get older.
    Now the girls want me to make curtains, cushions, etcc......... UGH!

  8. I think my daughter was 5 when she first refused to wear a hand-made dress because I had appliqued it with butterflies and it looked "funny". She is now 14 and would not be seen dead outside the house in anything hand-sewn or knitted. Yet she remembers that dress with apparent affection. My son, on the other hand, is almost 18 and is begging me to knit him a stripey hoodie with a pixie hood...

  9. My mom sewed some of my clothes, and I was also not really allowed to have fashionable clothes or "it brand" clothing. I hated it and my grown-up obsession with sewing/clothes/fashion is definitely an offshoot of that. Oddly, it never soured me on sewing, though. I sewed many of my own clothes through high school and as much as I could in college, given I didn't have regular access to a sewing machine.

  10. Your children will tell you if their clothes are too different - probably by not wearing them. However,as they get older they may also tell you that they do not want to buy clothes , but would rather you made them. It can be tricky when you have to change from making pretty dresses that you fancy, to jeans etc that older children want to wear for everyday, but this is what I would rather do. I like sewing for my children. According to my 13 and 15 year old daughters, RTW clothes don't fit, and have "horrible stitching". By continuing to make their clothes (and encouraging them to assist) I still have considerable input on modesty and age appropriateness - as beangirl points out, what their contemporaries are wearing is not necessarily a good choice! My daughters report that their friends are envious of their clothes, rather than disparaging. Your children have a lot more choice about how they dress when not limited to RTW. My 8 year old son likes to pick out loud prints for his shirts - very different from his friend's shirts, but that is what he likes to wear. Why should he dress just like everyone else?

  11. I'm with the "listen to your kids" crowd. They're all delightfully weird when they're young (and by young I mean five, six, seven). My ten-year-old very much has her own personal style, so I need to make sure anything I sew for her (or, increasingly, with her) fits that style. She also has the guts to deal with the heat she gets for it from her trendy classmates. The seven-year-old is a bit more of a trend-follower, but she loves having stuff sewn for her... she wants skinny jeans but has refused to buy them because she wants me to make them for her. I think listening to your kid and helping them develop *their* style---be it home-made or RTW---is key. That being said, I am no fan of big-name designer clothes for kids, regardless of how bad they want them. ;)

  12. What a great query! My own kid - an 11 yo boy - is totally into the "made by my mom" stuff. He has begged me to repeat winter wool trousers years in a row, because they're "the warmest & most comfortable ever": this from a kid that's never yet owned a pair of store-bought jeans. When I made him a 2 piece outfit (pants & matching vest) he wanted to save it for special occasions only - until I gently pointed out to him that he'll outgrow it all too soon whether it's worn or not. My adult daughter has also begged me to make stuff for her, which I do, and takes the occasional this 'n that out of my wardrobe. Of course, my family sees how much pleasure I get out of wearing each and every garment I've made for myself - and what's better than leading by example?

  13. What a great post! And fabulous comments.
    I listen to my kids, but also make sure they have age appropriate clothes. My seven year old boy absolutely loves the stuff I make him, and will wear it over RTW. My 5 year old girl, prefers the hand-me-downs from her cousins mostly. But she does love most of the stuff I make her - if I ask her first, and let her help pick fabric, she is much better at wearing it.
    One day they probably won't want as many handmade clothes, but it means I will have more time to sew for myself :)
    We never had brand name clothes growing up - I don't think it affected my style - I still don't have one. But I was known for dressing a bit different to my peers in later teenage years.

  14. DD is 3 and so far, I've only had good feedback on her clothing from her and all the caretakers at daycare. She's always very enthusiastic when I show her the fabrics I intend to use for her and I get the sens she likes this "vorfreude". We'll see how it goes when she goes to school... If she doesn't want home-made clothes anymore, I'll just sew more for me.
    Just like you, my parents wouldn't buy anything with obvious branding, although they liked quality (I recall wearing quite a few "Petit bateau" shirts). I do the same for me and my daughter. If I'm advertising for a brand by wearing their t-shirt, than they should pay me and not the other way around.



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