Extending the life of kids clothes

I sometimes look at my two little boys and mentally go over what they're wearing, partly to take delight in my frugalista mama ways.
You see, nearly all of their clothes were bought second hand, which is such a great saving that I wonder why anybody anywhere would buy their kids clothes new.

Lucky for me they do, otherwise I wouldn't be able to buy them second hand, would I?

Why do I love buying second hand clothing for my kids?
  • All the extra dyes and chemical stuff have been washed out already.
  • It is a form of recycling.
  • It is a GIANT money saver.
  • My kids wear good quality clothing brands that I would not otherwise buy.
  • Wearing clothes that I bought for $1 per peice means I am not precious about their clothes at all. Want to wrestle with your mates on the muddy playing field? Go for it. Need to splash your way through those calf-high puddles? Knock yourself out. I'm not sure I would say that if they were wearing a new $25 pair of jeans and $19.95 top, but $1 per piece? I'm comfortable with that.

The issue I'm finding now though, is that as boys get older...and maybe girls too but I have no experience there..they tend to wear their clothes out. Particularly their jeans.
As in, wearing them until the knees are threadbare and the hems are raggy.

So it's harder finding jeans in that size at all and often if I can find some, the knees look like they might last just one last wrestle. But then if the rest of the garment is fine, adjustable waist, plenty of pockets, good length, no stains or holes....for a couple of $$, I'll take 'em.

And patch 'em.

Just cut some heavy fabric to size, cotton drill or cord work well, fold the edges of the patch under, pin and sew. It is a wee bit awkward and you need to take the platform thingy off from around the foot of your machine, but it can be done.

I used to use those small stick on/sew on patches that come in shapes and characters, but then the knee would wear through above that and I'd need to re-do the whole thing with a bigger patch. And those little suckers were expensive too!

These ones are just a wee bit big for Mr 2, they're a size 4, see where the knee patches are?

I've also cut jeans off and hemmed them into shorts
and, if you have a girl, you could try this:
(In fact, I wish I had a girl JUST so I could try this!)

(Image is from youcanmakethis.com)

You can get the pattern for this in e-book form at You Can Make This.com or if you're crafty you can probably figure out how to do it yourself.

And this link has excellent how-to instructions, including pictures, for giving a favourite but outgrown tee shirt a new lease on life.

It does help to have a sewing machine but that doesn't need to be expensive either. I found mine on ebay, one of my favourite places to shop, cheapie that I am!


  1. I'm with you on the boys clothes. We bought our grandson a pair of Carhardt Jeans for Christmas,$20.,and he grew 2 inches in a few months,plus had holes in the knees immediately. It made me so sick,I'll not make that mistake again.

  2. Another way to recycle jeans for girls is to cut them off at crotch level then add two or three layers of ruffles - each a little longer than the last one and voila! You have a new skirt. I turn Master FJ's trousers into shorts at the end of each winter, cause they still fit the waist but not the legs, and usually have knee holes

  3. I have two boys as well and I can SOO relate :) I cut off their blown-at-the-knees pants into shorts. My guys are just about to turn 11 & 13 and things do start to get a bit easier - more selection of pants that are not as worn out. I never buy them new stuff either, for the reasons you mentioned. Items that other people bought them new as gifts seemed to wear out just as fast as our secondhand purchases.

    I've been saving all the scraps that I've cut off from pant legs and hope to get around to making quilts for their beds with them someday :)

  4. Sounds like all mums have the same jean problem with their boys, hey? :)