Sunday, January 12, 2014

Inventory Reduction

Today I attended a baby shower -- my second ever. This was a great chance not only to see some good friends, but also to reduce inventory (my whole purpose in life, remember?)!

This little jobby is made of a linen-cotton blend, so soft! The pattern, as you can see, is a wee bit vintage. I made it on a whim this summer, but had stopped short of the back fasteners (I chose Velcro) and a placket to sew them to. Now it is finished and has found a home!


I had a farmer's market booth this summer. My ambition to sell a line of children's clothing is one of the reasons I have so much fabric to burn through.

I had noble reasons behind the ambition. I wanted people to think about how much of our stuff is made in sweatshops where work conditions are disastrous. I wanted -- still want -- a 'local clothes' movement to grow, just as the local foods movement has grown. In fact, my "company" name is "locally stitched". Not only that, I wanted to encourage "reusing" and "recycling," and discourage "throwaway", so rampant in our society.

The idea of selling cloth diapers came from the Lakota reservation. I was being called every other week and asked to wire $20 so two teenage mothers who'd run out of money could get diapers for their children. On one occasion, I heard that those two mothers (sisters) were fighting over baby wipes. It seemed absurd. I made some prototype cloth diapers for them, developed the pattern further, and introduced the diapers to my market stall. I bought yards and yards of cute PUL (polyurethane laminate) fabric at an online shop specializing in all fabrics baby-related. Unfortunately, I found that the average customer didn't want to pay $15 for one diaper, no matter how much use they might get from it. The teenage mothers on the reservation didn't want them either, even though it meant not having to buy disposables. We've become that much of a throwaway society. 

Given this experience, I knew presenting reusable diapers to today's honoree would be presumptuous -- especially from someone who's never cared for a baby herself! -- so I stitched up this waterproof zippered bag of PUL instead. It's about 12" x 15". Surely a mom could make use out of this:


In the bag, I put a stack of flannel cloth wipes, single layer with serged edges. These can be used with a homemade cloth wipe solution (scented with your favorite essential oil!), and washed and reused instead of disposed of :


As a boon, an art teacher in attendance mentioned she'd prefer her kids to use cloth towels instead of paper towels for their cleanup. Maybe that can be a way to use up some of the excess fabric in my sewing room!

At some stage of this de-stashing program, I'll be making diapers or zippered wet-bags to use up the PUL, and you'll get to see that process in detail.

9 comments:

  1. It seems like most cloth diapers are about that price. We bought ours from cottonbabies.com. I love the bag! We also have a number like it from the same site.

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    1. I look forward to seeing your diapers and bag on Thursday. And I hope my samples from that "line of clothing" will fit at least one of your young sweeties ;-)

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  2. In 1998, a German friend of mine did some research on diapers and the environment while his wife was expecting their first child. The most striking result: according to Greenpeace, if your garbage is incinerated after collection, disposable diapers are the most environmentally friendly approach. The washing of cloth diapers (whether you do it yourself or have a service do it) uses up a lot of energy and resources!

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  3. Did he include the energy required to make and transport diapers, and extract the resources needed to make them?

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  4. Yes, the Greenpeace study did include that. I just did some searching, but the study was from the 90s, and most Greenpeace stuff about diapers recently has been about a dangerous chemical that was in disposable diapers until recently.

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  5. Your vintage romper is adorable! love the cloths and the bags as well. I always preferred using wash cloths on my babies...I couldn't afford wipes. I did use disposable diapers though...not quite sure how I afforded them. If I had a baby now, I'd definitely use your cloth wipes and diapers but I'd need to get a friend discount ;) We are definitely a throw away society and too busy...or lazy...or both too busy and lazy for cloth.

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    1. Thanks for your encouragement, Zenia. My favorite part of the cloth wipes is the solution ingredients. I love playing with essential oils and many of them are antiseptic too. Eventually I'll have to figure out the best use of my PUL, whether it's making diapers or raincoats!

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  6. Love and love your new shop, these handmade and totally serviceable clothing and diaper for many children, seem to be a thing of the past, here in neck of woods, these ideas have fallen on deaf ears. Good Luck!

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