Seven series: Clothing

**This is the second in a series of posts on experimenting with reducing consumption, based on a modified version of Jen Hatmaker’s book Seven. Check out my original post on the challenge for more info.** 

The clothing challenge asks us to consider wearing the same seven items of clothing for one month, or in my case, two weeks. (Note: This doesn’t include underwear or footwear!) I’m in maternity clothes right now, trying to get by on the clothes I wore last pregnancy. I haven’t wanted to buy many more pieces at halfway through my pregnancy. Fortunately, I’ve had two close friends give me their maternity clothes after giving birth to second babies recently, and that has been so helpful.

Here’s what I ended up with for those two weeks:

  1. Gray leggings
  2. Maternity jeans Gray maxi skirt
  3. White long-sleeved maternity t-shirt
  4. White maternity sweater
  5. Denim maternity tunic
  6. Short-sleeved green polka dot maternity shirt
  7. Olive green water-resistant jacket

Day 1

We just got back from a long trip to see family, so it seems like everything is in the wash. I wear the clothes I slept in: a white maternity shirt and gray yoga leggings. Guess these are two of my items. Add an olive green water resistant coat, since the rain has officially returned. Later, Sky pees on my shirt right before we leave for story time at the library, so I swap it for a white maternity sweater. Four items: check. I think I’ll add my one pair of maternity jeans and two lightweight shirts to round out the collection. Now what am I going to sleep in tonight? I also find myself thiiiis close to buying an orange maternity t-shirt to make a baby bump pumpkin Halloween costume for myself– then remember I’m not buying clothes the next two weeks. But there’s only one left on Amazon! And it could take a few weeks to ship! And why are there no orange maternity t-shirts anywhere else online?? I can see how the justifications start. I walk away from the computer and decide I can make a ghost face just as easily on my white T, with some adhesive black felt.

Day 2

I caved (already!) and put on pajamas this morning. Jen somehow slept in her clothes during this challenge, but I think I’m going to allow myself a pair of jammies that don’t count toward the seven items. Getting dressed this morning was so easy. I put on my jeans and the green maternity shirt, threw on my boots and jacket and we were out the door to preschool. I’m definitely going to have to wash my leggings and hang them dry today.

Day 6

Today I spritzed my leggings with my DIY all-purpose kitchen cleaner (dish soap, water, rubbing alcohol, lemon essential oil) and headed to yoga class. Gross? Probably. I don’t think anyone cared. I’m going to wash my seven items today. I’ve got three social events coming up this week and I’ll be wearing the same jeans, one of three shirts, and my gray boots to each one. Getting dressed: done.

Now I see why people do capsule wardrobes. I’ve never felt like I had it together enough to adopt that practice. I like lots of different colors, and mostly shop at thrift stores, so it’s hard to make a shopping list and go out to get missing pieces in specific colors or fabrics. Plus, my body shape has changed so much in the last 3-4 years as I’ve gone through illness, pregnancy, nursing/postpartum, post-baby weight loss, pregnancy, miscarriage, and pregnancy again. Whew. It makes my head spin a little. BUT. I think I can make this happen on my own terms. I’m starting to see which of my remaining clothes I could pull into this 7 item rotation for flexibility and simplicity. I have two other pairs of gray/black maternity leggings, and that alone will be a help.

In general, though, I really like not having to think about what to put on in the morning. It is freeing up a lot of time and headspace, both very useful as I try to keep up with my toddler and new work responsibilities.

Day 8

I hate pants. Specifically maternity pants. They never stay on my hips, and I’m constantly yanking them up. After a morning of this, I give up and swap my thrifted full-panel jeans out for my gray maxi skirt. It’s completely “cheating,” but I don’t care. I never want to wear these pants again. Maybe that’s one outcome of this challenge for me: wearing my clothes often enough to see which ones really don’t fit me. The white maternity shirt is also too small for me. Out it goes.

Day 10

Feeling kind of ho-hum about this challenge. Now that I have the gray skirt in the mix, I really don’t mind rotating back and forth between the skirt and leggings. It will be nice to have more options in a few days, but I can’t say that I feel particularly bothered by wearing the same thing over and over again.

Day 12

Spoke too soon? The nonprofit I write for held a fundraiser this evening, and my husband and I went as a date night. I wore my one maternity work outfit– a pair of black pants and a loose floral top, neither on the list of seven. Guess I’m losing steam…

Day 14

Finally done! Though not exactly life-changing, this challenge did force me to recognize what I’m most comfortable in at this stage of pregnancy: leggings and a tunic, or a skirt and maternity T. And to realize I just have a couple of long shirts to wear with the many pairs of leggings I have. So, ironically, my first step after this challenge is over will be to actually buy 2-3 longish maternity tops or tunics. I can’t really justify the small laundry loads just to get more use out of a few pieces of clothing, especially when life with a toddler is so messy.


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Sewing Halloween Costumes

My mom made most of our Halloween costumes growing up. It was so normal for us, I never thought much about it. My mom is a talented maker in general, and she more or less taught herself to sew in the 1970s after a couple of basic home economics classes in high school.

There are all of these gorgeous pictures of her wearing handmade clothes– embroidered shift dresses, long calico and plaid hippie gowns with laced bodices and puffed sleeves– or standing beside her creations. She once made an actual couch. Not just upholstered, but like a modular tube pillow type thing that was low to the ground and weird and amazing.

When my sister and I were little, she’d ask us what we wanted to be for Halloween, and then she’d put it together.

A princess and a “flower fairy?” No problem….

My sister on the left, me on the right, circa 1988

A doll and a pink unicorn? Okee doke…

1989 (Can you tell my sister was a born actress?)

I wish I had had the good sense to sit down with her and really learn to sew before I left home. I was stubborn, impatient, and easily-frustrated, so our sewing sessions were usually short and short-tempered. I just wanted to hurry up and finish a project, which meant I didn’t see our time together in the context of skill-building.

Now that my daughter is a bit older, and I’ve muddled through various sewing projects on my own, I can really feel the gaps in my knowledge. I want to learn how to use a serger, sew a zigzag stitch, use my machine’s embroidery settings. I want to know the difference between types of thread, and which to use for which project. I want to learn to sew darts, work with elastic and seersucker, and quilt a basic baby blanket. I’ve been known to curse at my machine, a Janone Home with a really finicky bobbin loader. I only very recently sat down to actually read my machine’s manual, since my style has always been to just figure things out as I go. Turns out those things are pretty useful.

Despite my shortcomings, I managed to make Sky a firefighter costume this year.

My little firefighter, 2017.

I used a tutorial from Pinterest (which now won’t load for some reason, so I’ll update with the link later) to make a pattern from a pair of Sky’s pajama pants, then cut out firefighter pants from a scrap of brown woven cotton I had used to make Lyle a case for his iPad. I had juuuust enough for the pants, which took me four hours to sew (!).

I gunked up my machine’s needle sewing the duct-tape reflective stripes into place, and had to replace it, but otherwise it was mostly uneventful. Just slow. I used adhesive felt and a white cotton pajama shirt for the top, found an insulated firefighter raincoat at a consignment store, and a plastic hat at the Goodwill for a dollar. We put her rain boots on and she was ready to take on the big world.

We played in the leaves, went to a Halloween craft party at the library, and attended a 2-and-under costume party at a local kids’ toy store. She kept telling people she was “a fire engine for Halloween,” but I think she’s starting to catch onto the idea of costumes and dressing up. It will be interesting to see what she wants to be next year.

The elastic waist and adjustable straps make the firefighter pants easy for her to put on herself, so we’ll use them to start a dress-up clothes stash for her. And I’m hoping her baby brother will get some use out of the costume when he grows up, too.

Happy belated Halloween! Did you make a costume this year? 

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