There has been a wall - a literal wall - of storage totes in my barn, all full of children's clothing. All appropriately labeled by size (as any Virgo Mama would do). I started these totes when Calvin was just a babe, picking things up here and there at thrift shops and yard sales, and as hand me downs. Storing things away for later that were too big, and tucking things that were too small into totes for the next Soule baby. These bins - this wall of totes - have moved from one house to another, and more importantly, have carried me through clothing five children. There are handmades and thoroughly-stained clothes and a whole lot of memories tucked into those boxes. But oh, it is time for them to go. Or at the very least, for them to be consolidated. I made myself a goal bringing all of the newborn to 3 year old clothing (where miss Annabel is at right now) into one neat and tidy tote, full of clean and folded clothes of the most special sort that I just cannot part with. One tote. Not six. One tote that I shall save and pour over as an old woman. One tote that I shall pass on to some poor daughter-in-law someday who will wonder why on earth I'm crying over a box of stained and dirty baby clothes from the early 2000's. One tote that holds just so much memory for me, and maybe, them too.
Because I am such a sentimental Mama, this purging project of course has prompted a sewing project I have been thinking about and for years and years. I always knew that I'd want to make a quilt from their baby clothes. I just didn't know when or how I'd be able to do it. I'm a sentimental fool about these things, I really am. Each textile evoking so much memory for me - bringing me right back to those earlier days. Memories of when they wore them and what they were doing. What they were like at that age. Who they've become. Oh my - what a process sorting through these boxes has been! As I sort, I've been separating as such - those in good enough shape to be passed on (though very little successfully survived five children!), those headed for the rag bag, those very few pieces just too precious for anything but tucking away, and the majority of things - those memory-triggering pieces that are just right for cutting up and being made into a special quilt, one for each child.
I have to take it slowly, this whole process. It's an emotional one, I am not embarrassed to say. Some of these pieces have been so hard for me to cut into. But what good are they doing sitting in a box in a barn? Most not in any shape to be worn again? Oh, as hard as it is, I am treasuring this process dearly, pulling out and remembering, cutting and planning. Laughing, telling stories, and sharing it with the kids who seem particularly interested in this sewing I'm doing, joining in to help press and cut and pile and claim pieces for their own pile. I wasn't sure how that would work, either, since so many of these things they ALL wore - who's quilt would they belong to? I first started sorting the squares by color but quickly realized that sorting by child made far more sense. Sometimes they each end up with a piece of something, sometimes something really calls out to be one or the other, and many I made for someone in particular. One of the slings we carried them in, a baby blanket, and all those little clothes. This and that from their early days.
Quickly, the piles have grown and become enough to make each of them a throw size blanket, perhaps even a twin. I don't know when I'll get to the stitching. I might just tuck each pile into a bag of its own for a while until I'm ready to begin the next part of the process. For now, I happily have a much emptier barn, one tote full of extra special handmades and precious clothing to save, and those five wonderful piles of fabric that hold so much meaning, ready to be transformed into something useful, special and new altogether.