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Handmade children's clothes - making sustainable choices

Are you a parent looking to dress your little ones in unique, sustainable clothing that not only looks adorable but also supports ethical practices? Well, look no further than the wonderful world of handmade children's fashion! In this post, I will explore how handmade children's clothes are not only fashionable but also eco-friendly, whilst remaining full of character. Not only will I talk about why buying handmade is a more sustainable choice, but I'll explore how you can continue the sustainability of the garments long after your child has outgrown their clothes...


Lizi is facing the front whilst holding a child's romper made from grey needlecord. The face of a mouse has been sewn onto the bodice, including large white flappy ears on the shoulder straps.

Why are handmade clothes so special?


Handmade clothes offer a personal touch that mass-produced garments simply can't match. Each piece is crafted with care and attention to detail, ensuring that your child will not only look stylish but also feel special in their one-of-a-kind outfit. By choosing handmade fashion, you are supporting small businesses and artisans who pour their love and creativity into each and every stitch.


From playful dresses to cozy knitwear, the world of handmade children's fashion offers a wide range of styles to suit every taste. Whether you're dressing your little one for a casual playdate or a special occasion, there is a handmade outfit perfect for the event. And the best part? You won't have to worry about your child showing up in the same outfit as their friends from the shop on the high-street!


What makes handmade clothes eco-friendly and sustainable?


In a world where fast fashion is taking a major toll on our planet, opting for handmade clothes is a conscious choice towards a more sustainable future. Most handmade pieces are created using eco-friendly materials (most commonly Oeko-Tex certified fabrics and some even use organic cotton) and production methods, ensuring that your child's wardrobe is as gentle on the environment as it is on their skin.


What is Oeko-Tex - this certification tests fabrics for over 100 regulated and non-regulated substances and makes sure that the fabrics meet extremely safe standards. As a parent, all you want is peace of mind when your looking to purchase high-quality, non-toxic products for your children, and this certification is a mark of such!


When it comes to the fabrics I use, particularly my exclusive designs, it was extremely important to me to choose a supplier that uses eco-friendly production processes. I decided to use Jelly Fabrics as a custom printing service not only for their Oeto-Tex fabric bases but because they offered what is called "pigment printing". This type of printing technology has been widely recognised as one of the most eco-friendly methods of digital textile printing. It uses non-toxic, water based inks, alongside minimal water usage. This has resulted in a highly significant decrease in energy consumption compared to traditional textile printing. And to top it all off, once the pigment inks have been applied to the surface of the fabric, the pattern is fixed with heat, without the use of chemicals and water!


(See my 'Little Spring Fox' exclusive fabric design being printed below)


Small businesses like myself also purchase supplies in much smaller quantities, ensuring that they only order what they need which in turn reduces their waste. And this is really important as did you know that the fashion industry is one of the most wasteful industries in the world!!! In fact, according to climatetrade.com, it is the 3rd most polluting industry and produces approximately 10% of our annual carbon footprint - this is more than international flights and maritime shipping COMBINED!!! Shockingly, it also creates millions of tons of plastic and according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation's 2017 report, the industry is also said to use around 93 billion cubic meters of water per year! And this amount is expected to double by 2030!!!


So what's the solution? I think it's easier said than done but it's also quite simple - move away from fast fashion. I totally understand that this is a tricky one when it comes to children's clothing. Firstly, a lot of us experience financial barriers which means that we often opt for the budget friendly options (especially when kids grow so fast). And secondly, we don't want to become too precious about the clothes our children wear - after all, we want them to explore the world through play, which often results in clothes becoming ripped and stained! And in these instances, what is the point in shelling out on expensive brands?


I totally get it, I'm a mum too and the amount of clothes my kids go through compared to me and my husband is insane! But I think it's important to strike a balance. Yes, purchase cheaper items from the high-street and online with the specific aim of using them as "play clothes". But also invest in quality, long-lasting garments that can still have life long after your children have out-grown them (and I'll be talking about this subject later). By buying fewer but better quality pieces and perhaps opting for more sustainable brands you are starting to teach your children the value of sustainability and how to make more ethical choices from a young age.


A young girl and her younger, toddler aged brother are standing next to each other with their arms in the air. They are both wearing bear themed clothing in brown. The girl is wearing a brown skirt with bear paw print pockets and the boy is wearing a brown romper with a bears face sewn onto the bodice. They are both smiling.

Why is it important to support local Artisans and Makers?


By choosing handmade fashion for your kids, you are supporting local artisans and small creative businesses within your community. These talented makers bring their passion and creativity to each and every piece they create, offering a unique alternative to mass-produced clothing on the high-street and online. Your purchase not only provides financial support to these artisans but also helps to preserve traditional crafting techniques and heritage. From data sourced from https://holly.co/inspiration/pride-in-uk-made-products did you know that students opting to take Art and Design at GCSE in 2023 has dropped 40% compared to 2010? If we're not supporting the subjects and avenues that feed into the creative and handmade industries then the number of crafts in the UK will diminish and will be lost forever!


(I use my Art and Design skills to digitally draw my exclusive fabric designs before sending them to Jelly Fabrics for printing)


And supporting UK based small businesses has so many other benefits too:

1 - buying local is better for the environment. The reduced distances that products have to travel ultimately has a positive impact of our carbon footprint and ultimately the environment!

2 - It hugely supports the UK economy. £1.6 trillion is generated by these small businesses!!!

3 - It creates jobs! Not just in terms of the employment of teams of people, but helping to create flexible working for those who struggle with the standard 9-5... like mothers, those with other caring responsibilities, and those suffering from illness or with disabilities etc...

4 - We have higher ethical standards when compared to other parts of the world. British based factories are safe to work in and pay their employees at least minimum wage unlike other countries who supply larger, fast-fashion brands!

5 - In the UK we have high levels of quality control due to our manufacturing and safety laws. All ethical creators of children's clothing should be following the strict safety laws that are in place for the production of childrenswear, ensuring that all garments are fit for purpose. (This topic will also feature as a blog post at a later date).


What can I do with my children's handmade clothes when they no longer fit?


Hopefully, your child managed to get a good amount of wear out of the handmade clothes you invested in. You should have noticed that not only were they well-made but the quality of the fabrics are also higher and the garments last until your child grows out of the them.


But what do you do then - throwing them away just adds to the waste ending up in landfill. With clothes that still have life left in them, here's what you can do to further improve your sustainability as a consumer...


1 - KEEP THEM FOR YOUNGER SIBLINGS. All colours, patterns and themes are for all children so don't fall into the net of my son can't wear the pink clothes I bought for my older daughter. By doing so, it just feeds into the narrative that kids clothes should be stereotyped by gender (a topic I'll touch on in a later blog post) and reinforces what the high-street says is acceptable for boys and girls to wear!


2 - GIVE THEM TO FRIENDS AND FAMILY. If you no longer have siblings to pass clothes down to then offer them to other families that you know. That way, you'll get to enjoy seeing them being loved and worn again!


3 - SELL THEM AND REINVEST. There are so many ways of selling second hand clothes now that you're literally spoilt for choice, and handmade items can often be sold at a premium. From Vinted to Facebook Marketplace and even local in-person markets such as the award winning ones run by Little Pickles which operate along the South Coast, there's plenty of ways to sell your little ones preloved wardrobe. Then you can always use that extra money to purchase new items for them in a bigger size!


4 - DONATE THEM TO CHARITY. If you're a family that doesn't need the extra money, then seriously think about donating those items to a charity. Children focused charities are always a win because their shops often stock just children's items making them a great shopping destination for families living on a tighter budget. And if you don't have a local children's charity shop near you, then pick a different charity that is close to your heart - that way you'll know that any items of yours that are sold are going to a cause that you feel passionate about.

A teddy bear design is in a seated position facing the front. It has been made from old baby clothes, mainly in pink designs, which gives a patchwork effect to the bear.

5 - HAVE THEM MADE INTO A SPECIAL KEEPSAKE. If you literally can't bare the thought of parting with any of your little one's special handmade items, then there are a plethora of small businesses out there that would happily turn them into a special keepsake for you. From blankets to bears to cushions and much more, research your options thoroughly to find a reputable seller, and have those extra special garments turned into something you can keep and cherish forever!


(An example of a memory bear made from baby clothes by the wonderful Pownalls Patchwork)

Instagram - @pownallspatchwork


We live in a world where style and sustainability need to go hand in hand, handmade children's fashion offers a delightful blend of creativity, ethics, and individuality. Dressing your kids in handmade clothes is not just a fashion statement; it's a conscious choice that reflects your values as a parent and a consumer. So why not add a touch of handmade charm to your child's wardrobe and let their style shine with every step they take!


I'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic, and please do share ethical and sustainable children's brand recommendations in the comments below...






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