budget · crafts · sewing

Lessons in resourcefulness

Upcyled jeans

Resourcefulness is one of the key character traits my husband and I vowed to bestow upon our little brood. Neither of us grew up being particularly resourceful. And while he’s always been relatively frugal, I went through some serious struggles to get to that point. Seriously, growing up, I always understood that if you wanted something, you just buy it. And if you can’t buy it, you charge it. And every last cent I had sat burning a hole in my pocket until I spent it on some useless nothing that I would probably never even think about after a while. I didn’t learn to be wise with my resources and how I used them until I genuinely had no other option. We want to shelter our kids from lots of challenges, but realistically, they will probably face financial struggles at one point or another. And while I wish I had learned this lesson in school or from others’ examples, the truth is I learned it by fire- and it was no fun. None whatsoever.

But therein lies the beauty of our homeschool- little Miss and I have the perfect opportunity every day for life skills. Without having to line up for lunch, recess, bathroom breaks, or specials, we actually have plenty of time to work on subjects she otherwise wouldn’t be exposed to. I’m working on things that I already need to knock out each day anyway, and she’s stoked because she gets to be my little apprentice. Hopefully this pays off down the road and I won’t have a college student coming home with dirty clothes for me to wash or expecting home cooked meals (and yes, I’m well aware I’ll be eating those words 15 years from now!). At this point, in addition to basic cooking, girlfriend has learned the ins and outs of laundry, how to write a menu for the week, how to put checks in the mail, and how to compile a grocery list. She’s also learning the dangers of being wasteful, and how we combat wastefulness with creativity. We’ve patched tears on bedspreads, turned too-short pants into shorts, turned leftovers into baby food, and even created our own magnetic chore system with things we had lying around the house. And this week we added a new skill- sewing and upcycling!

Miss Co's first photo attempt. She's pretty good, right?
Miss Co’s first photo attempt. She’s pretty good, right?

I hit a super-exciting milestone this week…I am officially out of my postpartum wardrobe and into my old clothes! (Yes- one of my girfriends gave me the genius idea of having a few pairs of pants/shirts to wear when I’m between sizes postpartum, for the sake of my self-esteem. MOST. BRILLIANT. THING. EVER.) I have a few pairs of jeans that are my absolute faves, because my lower half is more pre-pubescent boyish than curvaceous female-ish, and those few pairs that make me look like I’m working with more than I am are completely priceless to me. But here’s the thing. They are OLD. Like 2004 flare jean old. So…we decided to update them into boyfriend jeans this week. And Miss Co was my handy assistant/apprentice/photographer for this project! I wanted her first attempt at real sewing to be simple and short, so this was really more like tailoring than anything else. Having said that, I still count it as a super-cool homeschool project.

Old jeans to boyfriend jeans upcycle
Okay. So here you can actually see what I mean- they’re a little too short, torn at the knee, and flared at the bottom. I don’t care if flares are coming back…on a short woman like me, flares are the equivalent of being hit with a shrink ray.
Old jeans to boyfriend jeans upcycle.
First I turned them inside out and tried them on. Then we went along the legs together, pinning them to the fit I wanted. I like them to be straight-legged, in the event that later I want to wear them unrolled and hemmed at the ankle.
Old jeans to boyfriend jeans upcycle
Here they are, with both legs complete. We checked them for symmetry here- I’m notorious for asymmetrical mending jobs, and wanted to spare myself the extra work later. (Because seriously, I have been known to mend one leg and then the other on into infinity in an effort not to “waste time” using actual measuring tools. Brilliant, I know.)
Old jeans to boyfriend jeans upcycle.
And here we go! Miss Co actually did the stitching here! She learned how to start at the existing seam, taper her way along the pins, and then check for accuracy before we finished. No stitched fingers or other injuries- pretty exciting stuff.
Old jeans to boyfriend jean upcycle
And here’s the finished product! I used a little sandpaper to add some destruction to them, and I left the legs a little fuller since that’s pretty forgiving and is fine for a boyfriend cut. I still need to cut and serge the excess fabric to remove some of the bulk, but we were pretty excited to see a sewing project from start to finish, and to save $200 from being spent on new jeans!

As we worked on this project, Cora and I actually went online to see the prices of the jeans that I would typically be heading out to buy. My super-faves are about $198 right now, and when I add to that the cost to my sanity of hauling two infants into a store and trying on anything in a fitting room, I’m pretty certain that the upcycle version wins every time. From a teaching perspective, Cora learned about what discretionary income is, and how much better it is for us to spend $200 on things like a membership to the aquarium, a family weekend day trip, or new clothes for 4 kids vs. one pair of pants for one person. It may take some serious repetition for that concept to sink in, but it’s pretty exciting to see a kid’s grasp of money and responsibility when you put it in front of them in ways they can understand. And the added bonus is that now she can be a well-equipped helper on my future sewing projects! Yay!

And now it’s off to more projects…

xoxo~ LWH

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