I have a box in my attic that my mother had in hers (sound familiar?). I would love for it to go to a good home. Would you be interested? Or do you know who might?
When we followed up, she went on to tell us,
I opened the box, she saved every shoe that my sister and brother and I wore. My brother would have been 75 this year if that tells you anything. Some of the dresses were handmade as my mother was quite the seamstress. I am donating most of the items to a place for art projects. I am sending the better items to my 35-year-old niece who hopes to get pregnant soon. Most of the clothes had some stains from age but I think could be cleaned up.
While it was nice to be asked, Ellen and I are more in purge than acquisition mode. Like many of you, we have loads of our own baby clothes and accessories that we have been saving in hopes that our grown-up babies will use them when they start families. The inquiry, though, raises the universal question of what to do with all of memory-filled clothing taking up precious space or being passed down in bulk with nary a look.
To Clean or Not to Clean?
Before you decide what to do with these clothes, you should first inspect them and determine if you have the desire to try to clean them. In one of our most popular posts, Heirloom Baby Clothes and Linen – Cleaning, Buying or Creating, Ellen describes the process for getting the stains out of these heirlooms. Sort through and assess the condition of the items you have, read Ellen’s post, and then decide which items, if any, you are going to attempt to revive.
For those pieces that you don’t want to clean and bring you no joy, I would give them a KonMari thank you and deliver them to your nearest Goodwill depository. No doubt some savvy soul will swoop them up for a song and, if successful at cleaning, try one of the following:
Sell on eBay or in a Children’s Consignment Store
If you want to try to sell any of these items for a little walking around money, you really do need to get them as clean as possible. Smocked dresses and john-johns remain favorites of modern moms. So glad to know that even millennials can’t resist a precious newborn dress from Feltman Brothers, a company whose timeless designs have been donning babies and toddlers for over 100 years.
Consignment stores accept a mix of styles, but they don’t want stains, holes or tears.
On eBay, you need to disclose the condition of each item if you want a happy buyer, but eBay says that 21st century parents appreciate vintage clothing for a variety of reasons like protecting the earth, natural fibers and demure styles. Now reassured that there are buyers for the classics,
you’ll just need patience and sunshine to get your vintage treasures ready to sell.
Create Memory-Filled Art and Decor
While it might be nice to turn these artifacts into a little cash, the internet is full of creative ways to enjoy stain-free baby and toddler clothes in your daily life. Thanks to images from amazing bloggers like Jenny at Little Green Notebook, framing lovely or memory-laden baby clothes is all the rage. Just look what the fabulous Eddie Ross did with some flea market finds from Scott Antique Market.
turning the collar up gives this coat a graphic statement
These framed vignettes seem so appropriate in a guest room.
Sue from The Zhush framed this homemade dress that her mother wore as a child to feature in her upstairs hallway.
Camila of Effortless Style Interiors gives a DIY on using an inexpensive acrylic box frame from a craft store to showcase her son’s homecoming outfit.
Why not dress up your laundry room with a few precious treasures? This would be a great use for some of our reader’s hats and socks that we spied in the first two pictures.
Ellen strung a simple clothes line along two walls of her basement laundry area and hung memorable, yet not-too-precious, items from her children’s childhood closets.
Our reader’s niece could use some of the treasures as nursery decor as well as, or in lieu of, having her baby wear them.
This blogger simply hung these found treasures from her grandmother’s trunk on a tension rod.
If the stains just won’t come out or you just want a different approach, consider
making having a quilt or quilted pillow made from unstained pieces. Plenty of folks on Etsy can help.
And what about those baby shoes? Simply put one of those old pairs under a glass cloche and give it a featured spot in a book case. Talk about a conversation piece.
Framing in a shadow box works just as well for these pint-sized gems. Did you spot the pink-laced leather booties in the second photo? How cute would they be framed like this one?
Our reader could have a specialist like Inge at Frame of Mind create a treasured piece art with the shoes that she and her siblings wore.
If you’ve got a large family’s collection of baby shoes, you could even DIY a one-of-a-kind mirror.
Pinterest has several examples of turning an old baby shoe into a darling (and useful) pincushion.
Even better, turn an unusual pair into a treasured Christmas ornament.
Though bronzing baby shoes seems so old-fashioned, I love the idea of having a pair of my children’s early ones turned into Christmas ornaments that they will treasure all their lives.
I also like the idea of using bronzed shoes as bookends that could be used throughout the original wearer’s life.
Lastly, you could hang on to the precious pieces and use them for baby shower decor, like we did for our Royal Baby Shower Benefit.
Now that I’ve exhausted my ideas for our reader’s baby clothes and accessories, do you have any others to add to the list? I’ve got a trunk full of my own children’s things in the guest room just waiting for their second incarnation.
March 14, 2014