By Christina VanGinkel
Going through several old boxes of baby clothes a few years back, I was torn as what to do with them. I wanted to save them in one frame of mind, but in another, I knew that I no longer had a use for them, and as far as passing them onto someone else to use, even to my own children for their kids, was not plausible, as most of them were past being in any type of useable condition. Many of them were sleepers that were so old they were not made of a flame-retardant material, or the outfits had stains on them, missing buttons, or had broken snaps. Still, there were many memories in the boxes, and that is why I had held onto them for so long. Therefore, the issue of what to do with them was somewhat of a pressing matter. I did not want to toss everything back into the boxes to be dealt with yet again on some other day, nor could I realistically pass them on. I decided, then and there, that I would make a couple of blankets out of them, to be passed on to my children, the original wearers of the clothes.
If you have a hard time with giving up some of your own children's baby clothes, this could be just the answer you have been searching for too. You will retain the memories that have compelled you to hang on to the clothes, and even provide you with an outlet to keep or pass on some of those very memories in a much more sensible way than having them boxed up in the attic or the back of a closet. The finished blankets can be a great way for you to share with your children just how much you treasured them when they were so little, or could actually be made into a larger quilt for you to keep for yourself. One friend who saw how mine turned out, wanted to make one of her own, but realized that she only had a few items that she had kept that would work. My mother suggested she mix those in patchwork style with new fabrics, and her quilt turned out just as beautiful as mine did.
Not really a sewer, I did enjoy many other crafts, and figured that making a couple of blankets could not be that hard, and they were not. I sorted the clothes, choosing those that I felt could have pieces of fabric at least six by six inches salvaged from them. Most of the sleepers netted me one quilt square, as did most of the other newborn outfits. A few sleepers, which were made of some very stretchy fabrics, I chose not to use and reluctantly put them aside to be tossed. Unbelievably, I then discovered a few forgotten hand knitted sweaters that my husband's Aunt had made that I used when the kids were newborns, and they were just like new, having been packed in acid free paper and placed in the bottom of the boxes long ago. Thinking back, I realized that the one little boy sweater was one of the first items that my oldest son had ever outgrown. My second son, born a surprising two ounces shy of ten pounds, and topping off at over eleven and a half pounds when he was released from the hospital, never even had a chance to wear it, as it was too small for him from day one! My daughter took one look at it, and another pink and white sweater that had been hers, and asked if she could have them for when she had a baby. Her son was born about a year later, and even though it was a hot July, she used the one little boy sweater on numerous cool evenings until he outgrew it when he was about three months old.
My mother ended up helping me quite a bit with the quilts, as she did know what she was doing, even if I did not! In the end, we also used up some thinner pieces of fabric scraps that she sewed together to make edging around each small quilt. Now, years later, each of my children have their quilts tucked away, and with them, some memories of their grandmother too, as each remembers her sewing them and trying to teach me to sew at the same time.