Minimalist Sewing for K


After receiving even more new-to-K clothes from our neighbor last week, we went through K’s entire closet and all of her dresser drawers to take stock of her clothing situation. It is, in a word, crazytown.

I know there’s a whole lot of capsule wardrobe talk going around the interwebs, and I so admire the concept, but as we sorted through hundreds of items that I’ve made for K, it was time to admit that we’ve crossed over into the opposite of capsule: hoarder territory.

“We have to get rid of this, I made this three years ago!” I beseeched, holding up a wrinkled floral dress. K shook her head resolutely. And the thing is, most of the clothes I made when I first started sewing regularly for her still fit. I switched tactics and taught her the Marie Kondo method and asked her to only keep the garment if it sparked joy. She said “thank you and good-bye” to 15 things. On the one hand, this is ego-boosting on my part, but on the other hand, it doesn’t solve our problem. An excessively sentimental mother-daughter duo trying to eliminate handmade clothes is a recipe for disaster.

I keep revisiting my internal conflict of wanting to continue practicing my sewing vs. the guilt I grapple with as I generate more clothing than my daughter could possibly need. I love love love sewing for her. As we sat amid a literal mountain of clothes, we figured out that she could wear something different every day for a year. Every. Single. Day. This is ridiculous.

Yes, the obvious answer is to stop sewing for her. But I’m not quite ready for that so instead I’m going to adopt a minimal sewing plan for this autumn/winter. I’ll focus on clothes that she will actually wear regularly like knit tunics/dresses and skinny jeans and jeggings (or plain leggings). And for some reason, she loves zip-up vests and cardigans. I’m going to have to deploy some sneaky methods to reduce her gargantuan wardrobe. I know I’ll fall off the wagon and whip up some impractical, sure-to-be-ignored linen outfit here and there, but right now, I feel like I can get all minimalist and capsule-y with my sewing. I’ve got this.

P.S. A knit tunic coming up on Wednesday – I tried something new!

P.P.S. Happy Labor Day to all those in the US!! I forgot all about it since all the days have been blending into each other. The tail end of summer is always that way for me…

16 thoughts on “Minimalist Sewing for K

  1. Hi Sanae,

    i soo laughed about your post, seeing it like i’ll be there: you both knee-high in the most stylish children’s wardrobe EVER. I would totally call this a first-world-problem, but… i get it. I could never throw away those clothes EVEN when they don’t for anymore. i totally understand you both.

    Do you want to sell some of this stuff? Buying her new shoes or something you can’t make yourself with the money you make ?

    with big smiles

    1. Thank you Marit – for a while, I did consider selling the clothes, but wasn’t too keen on the idea of shipping them and having to charge for shipping, etc. And yes!! Totally first world problem and I feel lucky that this is the extent of my bemoaning (though of course you know that a lot of this is tongue-in-cheek ;-)). xo

  2. Marit has a good idea–but first take good pictures of each! My daughter in her 30s and I still have all the items that I smocked for her–I still enjoy looking at them every now and then.

    1. The blog has been my photo album for all my handmades, Greta! And thank goodness, because otherwise I would completely forget about all these little tops and bottoms and dresses. It’s actually super handy that I take these photos because at the end of every year, I select twelve of my favorite and make them into a calendar for relatives. 🙂 I bet your smocked items are so amazing, your daughter is lucky!!

  3. Since you love sewing for her so much, maybe you could try making slightly more complicated things, things with a few more details: welt pockets, pleats, lining, etc. These would take you longer to finish; therefore you wouldn’t make her as many things. Just a thought since I struggle with the same issue with my 3 girls who each have a closet already FULL of clothes!!

    1. Ooh, good idea. I’ve been toying with the idea of challenging myself more with leather-esque textiles and more hardware, etc. I’m so glad you understand, Kendra — it’s getting to be quite overwhelming and every once in a while I pause and think, “Wait, am I sending her the right message??” Thank you! 🙂

  4. Do you have a close friend or relative with a younger child that would enjoy the clothes? It is easier to part with something sentimental if you know the person it’s going to and get to personally see the joy it brings.

    1. Hi Abby-Sophia! Over the past few years, I’ve given a few items to friends’ daughters and we donated a bunch to Africa through K’s school program, and I do think those types of things are probably the best ways for us to share, just as Jenny suggests. 🙂 Thanks!!

  5. Isn’t part of the answer also releasing some things to others, who will also enjoy them? If K receives clothes from your neighbour, you could also consider whether she needs those, and someone else who is in need could instead benefit from them.
    Got plenty? Share it. It’s the best way.

    1. Boy, do we have plenty! Of course, the irony of all this is that K much prefers the clothes from the neighbor, the power of sequins and fluorescents!! Ah well, it’s high time we let go of so many of the handmade clothes anyway ;-). Thanks much, Jenny!

  6. With every post, I so enjoy reading the great evident love you have for each other!!! It’s so sweet 🙂 good luck figuring out a plan! It sounds like lots of fun to sew for her

    1. Oh, you’re so lovely Jeannie – thank you! She might not immediately reach for the clothes I make her when outfits from Target suddenly infuse her wardrobe, but she does appreciate my efforts 🙂

  7. It’s like you’re in my head, Sanae! I am having these exact same thoughts/struggles! I just went through a bin of Katie’s outgrown clothes for Lilah, and have literally run out of places to even put all of Lilah’s clothes now – the drawers are jam packed, the closet has no more room. And yet! While I would be the very first person to agree that Lilah does not need one., I still find myself dreaming of new things I could sew, new patterns I *should* buy. I actually took a bit of a step back from sewing for her over the summer, just making a few random items, and found the break to be refreshing. But the yen to create is still there, and even tonight, before reading your post, I was pulling out a skirt pattern (because she only has like 10 skirts already!) to sew.
    And then – the dilemma of what to do with all the outgrown handmade clothes. I”m hugely sentimental and that is a big hinderance in decluttering. I have found, however, that when I give her handmade clothes to a little girl I know, rather than just a Goodwill donation, I feel so much better about passing them along. To see another little girl wearing the clothes I made does bring a smile to my face and makes it a bit easier:)
    I feel like I could go on about this topic for awhile, though never as eloquently as you. Let us know when you find the perfect solution:)

    1. I’ve been trying to come up with a solution for years, Lucinda! Glad that I’m not the only one feeling this way. I did chat with a friend yesterday and I’m going to give her daughter a bunch of clothes, which is great!

  8. What about this … sew for your daughter, but don’t give the clothing to your daughter after you’ve finished it. Sell the pieces you make, instead! (As long as you’re not violating any copyrights, of course.) This might be a way to trick yourself into being satisfied with making clothes for K, and still keep her wardrobe in check. I would definitely buy your work and save it until my daughter is old enough to wear it; it’s beautiful.

    1. That’s so sweet of you, Hilary! Of course, it would end up being a mind-boggling number of animal print clothes ;-)…Definitely something to consider, though! I guess my reservations about selling is the need to ship them out. Not too big a fan of the whole shipping process…but hey, maybe I just need to get over that!

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