Dressing Kids on the Cheap

When I was younger, my favorite past time was “thrifting,” which involved shopping at second-hand stores, in search of that vintage or unusual find. I liked any cocktail or evening dress from the 60′s and earlier. Of course, I didn’t really have anywhere to wear theses dresses, but that didn’t stop me from buying them. During those days, shopping at a thrift or vintage store was actually affordable. I didn’t often buy clothing at garage sales or flea markets, but would find some really cool things like purses and other cool trinkets.

My days of vintage shopping for specialty items for me has been replaced with searching for bargains on clothing as well as toys for my continually growing children. We all know that children can be expensive, but that doesn’t mean it has to apply to their clothing too. Children grow extremely fast. River led the “cat-walk” life for his first six months of his life as I rushed to have him wear every single new piece of clothing he received as a gift. After the frenzy of getting at least one use out of all of the clothes before the next season, I was left with many outfits he wore only once and started my now infamous piles of out of season and outgrown clothing that has taken over my home. The clothes were followed by toys and accessories, but that’s a whole other story by itself.

My search for bargains led me to these alternatives to spending big bucks on clothes my children would quickly out grow. Some of them gave me ideas on how I could help others while also reducing the amount of clutter in my home.

If you are a mother, then you probably have other mom friends in your playgroup, at your children’s school, or in your neighborhood that have children and homes (or garages) that are being taken over by unused or outgrown children clothing. You trade mothering advice, why not trade clothing (and toys) that your children are no longer using? Yes, it is totally appropriate to swap with the understanding that an item should be returned after use or consider giving it to a mom to pass on to another mom who can later use. Freecycle™ Network is another source to check out.

Everyone can use a few extra dollars and if you like the idea of turning your excess into cash, then consignment may be for you. Items accepted and the amount earned varies depending upon where you choose to consign. Typically, consignment stores determine the value of your items and are limited to the amount of items they receive due to space while consignment sales allow you to determine your own pricing and an opportunity for a greater return of profit, consign more, along with providing a larger shopping audience. Whether you opt to consign (and shop) at a more traditional consignment store or at a seasonal sale, there are great deals to be found at both.

Adding some lace, sewing on a missing button, or adding a patch can give an outfit new life. You do not have to be an experienced seamstress to enhance or make repairs. I have easily turned a few old pillowcases into play dresses and added another year onto a jeans, dresses, and skirts with the addition of lace or a decorative fabric ruffle for Lily. She enjoyed choosing the fabric for the ruffle and helping me redesign her outfit which could be done with a sewing machine or a glue gun. If you have boys, then patches go a long way for repairing worn holes in pockets, on knees, etc.

There are many opportunities in our communities to help satisfy the needs of others with items that you no longer use. A quick online search can assist you in finding a location or check with local churches in your community. Of course, the Salvation Army and Goodwill are just a few locations where your donations will be appreciated. Your donations may also qualify as tax deductions. All of these organizations gladly receive monetary donations too.

This is an art that has seen many deaths over the decades, but has lately been revived out of necessity. In some instances, sewing can be just as expensive as buying an item considering the time and money spent making it, but it’s the creativity it promotes and skill acquired that you shouldn’t overlook. I use to manage a fabric store and made many displays of children’s clothing. My children are now wearing clothes I made before I was married and even before I ever thought of them.

With summer just about here, I can make River and Canyon quite a few pair of one of a kind shorts and Lily some unique and pretty dresses or skirts. I must admit that I set my sewing machine aside for my computer and since I’ve started blogging, it has only gotten worse. Sewing will be part of our curriculum this school year because I think it’s an important skill for my children to know how to do and I’m excited to teach them.

Before you plop down more money for your child’s next outfit, consider one of these options so that your dollar goes a little further.

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