Category

Babies

Babies, Children, Families

9 Clever Clothes Shopping Tips

clothes shopping tips

clothes shopping tips

Today I’ve got a really useful guest post from Jessica Berentson-Shaw, a New Zealander with a passion for ethical clothing and social justice.  Jessica blogs over at Muka Kids – where she’s documenting her adventures in setting up a kids ethical clothing enterprise.  Jessica is sharing with us her clever clothes shopping tips for buying kids clothes that will help you get the most out of your money and the clothes that you buy.

A lot of the clothing we buy these days is of the cheap, and what I call, ‘uncheerful’ variety (lets face it no-one was smiling while they were making them).  Cheap clothing may not have a long and fruitful life & therefore will have a heavier footprint.  However, sometimes spending more does not always equate to a long lasting garment either.

It’s a bit of a minefield, so to help you out here are 9 clever clothes shopping tips to ensure the clothes you buy (new or old) live to a ripe old age and tread much more lightly on the earth.  I have focussed mainly on kids clothes here, but these tips apply equally to all clothing.

From fabric choices, to considering buttons, and more, these shopping tips will see you right!

environmental impact of clothes

1. Look for quality fabric

Look for heavier, thicker, fabrics with closer weaves or knits as these tend to be more durable. Avoid polyester components as these will pile and be scratchy within months.  Give it a feel: does it seem like a quality well made fabric? Ask the shop about the weight & density of a fabric if you buy online.  Expect a sensible answer.

Types of fabrics that tend to have a longer life include denim & corduroy and heavy knitted cotton fabrics.  Those with a small component of ‘elastic’, for example lycra, can also be beneficial for retaining the shape and longevity of clothes.

2. Is the fabric is fit for purpose?

Look for clothes where the use of the clothing is well matched to the fabric it is made from. Have the designers even considered this issue during it’s making, or perhaps tested it with wearers?  Lightweight denim for kids winter trousers is never a good choice unless you live in a hot country!

3. Certified organic fabrics are better quality

There are two reasons for this.  The first is about the way the cotton is grown, the second is to do with the treatment it receives during processing.  Studies have shown that compared to conventional cotton, organically grown cotton has longer and stronger fibres, with better quality yarns being produced from organic cotton.

Organic cotton is not put though chemical treatments during cleaning, processing, dying and printing, many of which are petroleum or acid based and can break down the fibres at a molecular level.  In the final stage of production, clothing is also often given a Teflon, polymer or formaldehyde based coating to reduce creasing and give a smooth feel,  These chemicals may weaken the fibre, and reduce the life of the item.  So certified organic cotton clothing is likely to be better longer lasting product, and better value.

4. Look for clothes that allow for growth

Where kids are concerned a longer lasting item often equates to one that still fits after a growth spurt.  Most kids tend to grow up not out a whole lot, so cuffs on arms and legs that can be turned up and then down are a good buy, or looking out for hems that you can turn up or down.  In waistbands look for elastic AND drawstrings for both a stretch and a pull in.

5. Account for the weak points

Have potential weak points been considered and perhaps reinforced, maybe with patches on the knees and elbows?  How about reinforced stitching in places like the crotch or underarms?

6. Look for clothes that have multiple functions

Multifunctional garments means you can get more wear and more value from clothing.  Reversible coats & jackets; pyjamas tops that double as t-shirt (only you will be the wiser!); leggings that can double as tights, the list goes on!

7. Know a thing about kids heads

Mini adults they are not: kids have heaps to learn and a big head to match.  So check out that neck line – does it look a tad small for that extending neural development, or a not particularly stretchy fabric?  A good ribbed fabric around the neck will help with stretch.

8. Transverse the seasons and fashions

‘Fast fashion’ (and cheap clothing) is a cash in on the idea we always need the new next best thing.  Here is a tip: great design lasts years not weeks.  A good stripe, or a single colour will never go out of fashion, whereas character based clothing will be out as soon as the new Peppa Pig comes along!  Look to the long term item and clothing will still look appealing in the wardrobe next year (or on the next child!).

vintage kids dress

Jessica’s  daughter in a dress  she wore as a child

9. Buttons & Zips

There is nothing worse than all the buttons on a garment falling off within a few days of wearing.  Don’t be afraid to give them a tug to test the quality of the stitching of them!  Buttons do offer one benefit though – they are an easy fix.  Zippers on the other hand wear out, and are hard to fix, so are not always the best choice for longevity: though if you make friends with a good repairer they can replace a zip in a jif!

Got any tips on what to look for when buying for years not seasons? Any particular pet peeves in kids clothing? I’d love to hear them.

Top photo by Flickr user LeAnn, licenced under Creative Commons 2.0.

Babies, Families, Health & Beauty

Homemade Nappy Rash Cream

homemade Baby Bottom Balm

I am excited to share with you today this really easy and effective tutorial for homemade nappy rash cream, created for Moral Fibres readers by Summer, the blogger behind tortoise & lady grey

Tortoise & lady grey is a really great blog that discusses all things sustainable and slow fashion and encourages readers to make their own clothes and natural beauty products with DIY tutorials.  Here Summer shows you how to make your own natural nappy rash cream for babies:

As a mum with an interest in sustainability and natural health, I am constantly looking for ways that I can reduce the environmental impact of my family’s lifestyle, as well as minimise my toddler’s exposure to chemicals.

When my son was born I invested in a few natural products to help prevent nappy rash.  I naively assumed that the products I had chosen – which used natural healing herbs such as calendula and pawpaw extract – would be petrochemical and fragrance-free.  They were marketed as natural after all – why would you make a natural product that contained these harmful ingredients?

Needless to say, I was pretty disappointed when I read the ingredients list more closely and discovered I was wrong.  I realised that if I wanted to guarantee that the nappy rash cream I used on my baby’s bottom was completely toxin free then I would need to make it myself.  I was already dabbling in making natural beauty treatments for myself and had gone completely toxin free in my own beauty regime, so I knew I could experiment with my own recipe for nappy rash cream and come up with something that was better than the products I was being sold.

I am so pleased to share this recipe for homemade nappy rash cream with you so that you too can keep your baby’s bottom toxin free and use only nourishing natural ingredients.

natural organic baby bottom balm

How to Make Homemade Nappy Rash Cream

Ingredients

Use organic if possible:
8 tbsp. of beeswax small pellets*
¾ cup of sweet almond oil*
¼ cup of avocado oil*
1 tbsp. of raw honey unpasteurised honey – this looks cloudy and thick
30 drops of tea tree essential oil*

Equipment

1 small heat-proof glass bowl or small saucepan
1 medium saucepan
1 metal spoon for stirring
2-4 clean small glass jars baby food jars or slightly larger are perfect – the jars should be small enough that you can scrape your finger right to the bottom of the jar easily.

Instructions

  1. Heat the medium saucepan half-filled with water on the stove, and place the glass bowl (or small saucepan) filled with beeswax on the heating water as a double-boiler.  Beeswax should not be heated directly on the stove or it will burn.  Take care not to spill water into the melting beeswax.
  2. Keep the stove on a medium to low heat to ensure that the water does not boil too vigorously. The beeswax will take about 20 minutes to melt.
  3. Once melted, remove the bowl (or small saucepan) from the heat to allow the beeswax to cool for 5 minutes.  If the beeswax looks like it is starting to solidify, you needn’t keep waiting the full 5 minutes.
  4. Once the beeswax has cooled for this time, add the avocado and almond oil and then stir through the honey until it has completely dissolved.
  5. Finally, add the 30 drops of tea tree oil.
  6. Whilst the mixture is still liquid, pour into jars.  You will have about 300ml of mixture, so the number of jars you fill will depend on their size.
  7. Once in the jars, the mixture will begin to set.  Sometimes the honey can settle to the bottom of the mixture, so you might like to stir each jar occasionally as the balm sets.
  8. When the balm has completely cooled it will have a waxy cream-like consistency and will be easy to apply to your baby’s bottom after each nappy change.

homemade nappy rash cream recipe

Explanations
You can find the ingredients for this recipe at health food shops or online.  If you want to simplify the recipe, you can leave out the avocado oil and replace with almond oil instead.  You could also substitute both oils for olive oil if you wish.

You can apply this homemade nappy rash cream liberally after each nappy change to prevent nappy rash.  The beeswax provides a natural barrier to help protect your baby’s bottom, and the almond and avocado oil will nourish the skin.  Tea tree oil and honey are both natural antiseptics with strong healing elements, and can help to heal mild nappy rash if it occurs.  However, if the rash worsens or fails to heal, I would recommend seeking out a petrochemical-free pawpaw or calendula ointment.  Naturally, if you are worried about the rash you should always seek medical advice.

Thanks very much Summer.   I’m looking forward to trying this out – I think it would make a great balm for adult irritated skin too as well as babies bottoms!