Bats, Bat, Bats

IMG_0855

Another Halloween has come and gone and with it, the making of our annual costumes for the kids. S and I made the decision long ago (maybe even before kids) that we’d try to have the costumes mostly, if not all, handmade. And we’ve succeeded for the most part and I dare say, we’ve found a bit of a routine around it. Starting in September we start talking to the kids about what they’d like to be for Halloween. This year the answer was a BAT. A fruit bat and a vampire bat to be specific.

I then scour the internet for possible patterns. I’m a novice sewer at best, so I like to find things that are doable but with a little challenge. This year I found this great Do It Yourself Bat Costume by Ellen Luckett Baker for Alpha Mom tutorial and adapted it to make it our own. It was decided I would do the bat wings and S would do the masks.  And this is key: I don’t like to convince my kids to be something or nag anyone to get their own part completed. There has to be complete buy in from everyone and that’s why we take the choosing of the costume and pattern slowly and seriously. The added intention is that these costumes will become part of the dress up clothes for the entire year or more so the time we put into making them is all the more worth it. We are still using the Dinosaur Tales that I made 2 years ago.

After choosing the costume and pattern it’s off to the fabric store with the kids. I let them pick out the fabric and help select the other needed details- steering them to think about if we have something at home we can use, can we go to the thrift shop, etc before buying it brand-new.  Instead of the black felt the pattern called for the boys chose black and yellow glittery fabric. Once we gather all the materials we get set to working. Sometimes it’s been awhile since I’ve sewed when Halloween comes around and I need to refresh myself. I had the hardest time threading the bobbin…until I looked at the instructions.

bobbin
Removing bubbled thread on the bobbin

This year I started sewing two weeks before Halloween…can’t say the same for S but he tends to create his best work at the last minute. In the past I have left it to the last minute too, the creating becoming stressful and leaving no room for the kids to help in the process.

IMG_0784
Helping hands
IMG_0786
The boning for the wing
Our customized bat hats
Our customized bat hats
Big brother and little brother bats
Big brother and little brother bats

It was a really fun process and of course, I figured out the best way to attach them to the shirt (a zig zag stitch) on the last wing. At least I know for next time we need some bat wings.

My Mending Basket

IMG_0785

I have this basket. A mending basket. I was inspired to be more conscious of repairing, hemming, fixing, mending when I read the article: Put A Patch On It by Em Falconbridge in Issue 11, MEND of Taproot.

IMG_0782

To be honest, the basket is full of pieces to mend because although I put the clothing, dress up costumes and stuffies aside to be worked on, I never set the time aside to complete it. The task has never taken priority over the other to do’s, wants on my list. Intention but not execution. This week’s theme of WORN during the month long Slow Fashion October instigated by Karen Templer has shined a light on that basket full of mending and I have finally set aside some time to work on a few pieces. I mended two stuffies for my kids and repairing the neckline of a wool sweater coat I’ve had for a few years. It was so nice to slip the jacket on again- like having a new piece of clothing. And….I noticed that some of the other clothing in the basket are now too small for my kids. Sometimes you miss the window of mending and wearing again.

Longevity in children’s clothes is a challenge because of their rapid growth and wear and tear on the clothes.  Luckily we can pass clothes from one sibling to the other, and then on to family, friends or great charities in the area.  I seek out clothes that will wear well and can be passed on to balance the knowledge that at this point, we are lucky to get a 6-12 month life-span out of a single piece.

Longevity in an adult wardrobe is different. Hand-washing, line drying, mending (when you can get to it) all increase the life and quality of clothing. But longevity of clothes is also dependent on maintaining the same body shape and size. I’m rounding the corner, seeing a glimpse of my pre-babies body and aim to pass that for an even healthier one. So naturally I can’t wear my maternity or post maternity clothing and my shape has changed post-baby that many of my clothes pre-baby don’t fit the same way.

Slow Fashion October has come at a opportune time. It has created a space for me to step back and look inside my closet. In the past, I’d pull what didn’t work, fill a black plastic bag for donation and then fill the closet back up again with clothes that worked in the moment. That was ok, that’s what I needed at the time. But now, I’m asking myself to go “shopping” in my closet first and see what I find: I mended the black wool sweater coat and I re-discovered an old pair of boots; finally hemming adds some well-fitting pants to the mix.

IMG_0720

The biggest change is not rushing out to fill up the closet with clothes because they are on sale and are good enough for now; focusing on what is needed and not the instant gratification of a want. And while my body will continue to change, it doesn’t mean I have to continue to wear “disposable” clothing. As I strive to find the balance in clothing for my children, the same needs to be done for myself: a balance between a few meaningful store bought pieces with an eye to longevity, more handmade pieces and working through what’s in the mending basket will get me closer to the more conscious wardrobe I desire. The intention is there, and the execution will follow, slowly.