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Don’t we all have a bin of clothes our children have outgrown that we can’t bear to get rid of?
As parents, we sometimes attach emotions to material things that remind us of special moments in our children’s lives, but it’s important that we don’t become hostages to our “stuff”. Here are five ways to declutter and preserve the special clothing items we love.
Save a couple items… but be ruthless – Your child is not going to want a pile of baby clothes when they grown up and leave the nest but having one or two pieces they can pass down to their own children can be lovely. Something with sentimental appeal is best, like the clothes they wore home from the hospital, their first baseball cap, or their first pair of Christmas PJs.
Each of my boys has one big bin for all their keepsakes. It contains samples of their schoolwork, report cards, pictures, favourite books and toys, and a few pieces of clothing. When they move out, they can take their bin (and their memories) with them.
Upcycle – With a little creativity, old clothes can find new usefulness. For example, you can make a reusable shopping bag from an old t-shirt or jersey. You can sew a tote bag, or if you aren’t a proficient sewer, you can find instructions by googling “no sew tote bag from a t-shirt”. Other upcycling options to consider are scrunchies, sachets, facemasks, headbands, scarfs, stuffed animals, or pillows.
Make Christmas ornaments – Covering a Christmas tree with meaningful decorations is a fantastic idea, so why not turn sentimental pieces of kids’ clothing into unique holiday ornaments? Clear plastic balls are wonderful because you can fill them with anything you want. I made keepsake ornaments for my boys by inserting their knitted hospital hats into clear balls. You could also insert a piece of their favourite shirt or blanket.
Using material from a piece of clothing to sew an ornament into a holiday shape (like a Christmas stocking or angel) is a great option too. And if sewing isn’t possible, popping a piece of material into a small embroidery hoop frame to create an ornament is a simple alternative.
Create unique artwork – Using old clothing to create unique artwork is a budget-friendly (and meaningful) way to decorate a child’s room. Use a shadowbox to frame a child’s first jersey or favourite t-shirt, or stretch a clothing item over a canvas and staple it in place. You may also want to frame a picture of the child wearing the special outfit to add to the display.
Sew a memory quilt – Sewing a quilt from multiple items of clothing is an ambitious project, and requires significant sewing ability, but it’s a perfect way to save many pieces of clothing. Selecting favourite items, and commissioning a third party to sew them together for you, is another option.
There are many ways to preserve children’s clothing and the memories they hold but be diligent when it comes to what you keep. Donate what you don’t need, only save a couple pieces, and DIY a few unique keepsakes that you and your children can enjoy and treasure for years to come.