Why make stuff when you can buy stuff?

slipper and bag1

A friend of mine who just doesn’t get the whole handmade thing once said to me, “Wouldn’t it be easier to buy stuff, rather than make stuff?”

My immediate thought was that she was probably right, but I have been giving it some more thought recently and nope, my dear friend, handmade is not only more rewarding, more unique, more personal and sometimes better quality, but also it can be a lot less stressful.

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Every year I make Christmas presents for 3 delightful little sisters. Daughters of a friend who is as devoted as I am to handmade gifts.

At Christmas, I decided to make slippers for the little lovelies. Now imagine if I had decided to buy the slippers instead of making them.

Picture the scene…

I have decided to go to my local shopping centre to find some slippers for the girls. I plan to leave early to avoid the rush. Avoid the rush? It’s Christmas for goodness sake how can you avoid the rush? And isn’t everyone thinking about ‘going early’? But I still don’t change my plans. Here lies Problem number 1.  A three year old who doesn’t really understand the concept of time. Who wants breakfast but doesn’t know what breakfast she wants. Who knows how to use the toilet but decides to use the floor on this particular morning. Who doesn’t want to clean her teeth even with the Nurdle Shmurdle app that you ‘cleverly’ downloaded to your tablet that she loved yesterday. And she certainly doesn’t want to wear a coat when it’s 2 degrees outside. Can you see how leaving early doesn’t happen?

Problem no 2. On my street parking is restricted between 11am and 12pm (that’s London living for you), so I’m a bit anxious to get three year old child into the car and off to the shopping centre. Three year old child does not care about parking restrictions, parking fines and parking problems in London.

If you have been reading and not skimming (yes, I know, we all do it, who’s got time to read excessively long blog posts?) you will remember I said I wanted to avoid the rush (and the traffic). Problem no 3. There is no way I can avoid the rush (or the traffic).

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I get to the shopping centre and pay for 2 hours of parking, (that should be enough, I’m only buying slippers). The pursuit begins. Problem no 4. I have no idea where I am going to find present worthy slippers.

After traipsing from crowded shop to crowded shop without much success, (just a few 6 items for myself that I never knew I needed), time is running out. Three year old is whining, three year old is hungry, three year old wants to get out of the buggy (admittedly three year old is only in the buggy because time does not allow me to let her dilly dally walk when I have a time limit to purchase slippers).

I stop at M&S for a sandwich and a drink for three year old to eat on the go. As I’m there I might as well get myself a 685 calorie sandwich (and don’t forget the cake). Oh and that looks nice I’ll get some of those to have with our dinner tonight. Problem no 5. A quick bite to eat for a three year old can actually cost £18.75 depending on your will power.

Three year old takes two bites of her sandwich and falls asleep. Problem no 6. What do I do with half eaten sandwich? Put it in the hood of the buggy, forget it’s there and find it a month later? Or eat it myself to add another 480 calories to the 985 calories I have already eaten? Meanwhile I notice the drink that she had taken one sip from, leaking all over the floor of nice shop that actually sells nice slippers.

Problem no 7. Do I quickly leave the shop hoping no one has noticed? Or tell someone but still feel too embarrassed to stick around? (Even if I have spotted some lovely slippers). No need to decide, I have to leave anyway, three year old is awake and wants to use the toilet.

Problem no 8.  I have 10 minutes to get to my car before parking ticket expires. Do I risk going back to nice shop, with nice wet patch on the floor to get nice slippers and join the 35m long queue? Or do I go home and call it a day? At least I got 6 things for myself (that I will probably never use). I’ll get the slippers next time.

I can safely say that in my made up scenario experience, it is not easier to buy gifts than it is to make them.

Buying gifts is stressful, making them is gratifying.

slipper_circle_frontslipper_circleFor the slippers I used a pattern found on Etsy from Winter Peach. I had to do a bit of hand stitching which I’m never very happy about, but the slippers are easy to make providing you are not making 3 pairs at a time, all different sizes and you don’t get your left mixed up with your right and your size 12 mixed up with your size 13.

slipper bag_singleThe bag was a free pattern from The Purl Bee. It’s called a lunch bag, but I’d be reluctant to put a sandwich in it. Good job I don’t like donuts or watermelons.

slipper and bag2

Perhaps the girls can use the bag for their PJs once hey have taken their slippers out. I can’t imagine them putting their slippers back in the bag after each use.

I’m thinking of making a few bags for Darcy’s Lego. I can not tell you how many times I have stepped barefoot on a stray Lego piece that has fallen out of it’s box.

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So, what would you rather do? Buy the slippers or make the slippers? Answers on a (handmade) postcard please. Actually, the comments box below will suffice. Thank you.

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28 thoughts on “Why make stuff when you can buy stuff?

  1. Well you could buy them online, but than if you do that, the slippers may end up being on back order and miss the intended shipping date. Once they finally do ship the postman could accidentally deliver them to your crazy cat lady neighbor who smokes like a chimny and stinks up your pretty little slippers with the smell of smoke and cat pee. Once your neighbor finally delivers the box to your door you will most likley open it and realize the color on your monitor was way off and the slippers are completely ugly. Because they were delivered so late you unfortunately do not have enough time to send them back. And who wants to deal with all that hassel of online returns anyway! Well my story is a little less lilly than yours but I have to say a hand made gift shows that you have put lots of thought into the gift and created something personalized and with lots of care! Hand made gifts are the best! : )

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  2. handmade things carries a story, a little piece of the maker. a handmade gift is allways something very personal, the person maybe thought about you while making it. handmade gifts are something special not just you want find this product in a store. your slippers are beautiful, by the way ;)!

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  3. I concur with all your points. This past weekend I made an ironing board cover in the space of a couple of hours. I have saved hours in a specific shopping trip and ended up with something of far greater quality and visually pleasing.

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    • Lucie, an ironing board cover is on my sewing list. My Cath Kidston one is seriously stained and rather sad looking now. It could do with some cheering up. I hope I can say that mine is of greater quality when it’s done 😉

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  4. I love this post!! I read EVERY word (no skimming here 😂) because I got entangled in the journey which is my life! Lol! Well times 2 (twin 3 year olds! 😩) but it was entirely us & I whole-heartedly agree making is wayyyy better than buying as sewing is my free therapy! 😂 great post!

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    • Thank you so much Tara. Wow! It’s hard enough going shopping with one three year old let alone two. I used to think I would love to have twins, get it out of the way in one go, as they say. I imagined how cute it would be to dress them the same, or similar. And for them I thought how lovely it would be to have a brother or sister the same age to relate to and be best friends with. But a friend told me about the reality. Breastfeeding two babies (at the same time). Carrying and holding two babies (at the same time). Dealing with the crying (at the same time). Logistics and so on. Not to mention pregnancy and giving birth. I soon changed my mind, but I have a huge respect for parents of twins. I can’t imagine you get much time for sewing. Probably late at night like me???

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  5. I long ago realised that it was a lot quicker to make myself the garment I visualised in the colour I wanted than to plod round the shops looking for it in my size. Not sure about gifts though – there seems to be an age after which children do not appreciate anything without the label.

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  6. This is exactly why I try to make as many gifts as possible, especially during Christmas. I’m pretty much allergic to shopping centres as it is, but it only gets worse at Christmas time. When you make things yourself, you have control over everything: how it looks, what it’s made of. And hopefully, the person on the receiving end feels a little buzz of delight that they’ve received something that was made for them and them alone.

    Yes, it certainly takes time to make things yourself, but I’d rather use my time that way than in a shopping centre!

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  7. Love your story and know exactly what you mean re shopping assisted by small creature. When they grow up its sad in a way but boy oh boy can you shop so fast (probably enter national supermarket sweeps!) Please write more stuff – your crafts are grat and your stories lovely cheers Paddie

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    • Thank you so much Paddie. My love of shopping definitely shifted from ‘Yipee I’m going shopping’ to ‘I’m not sure I can face shopping today’ after having children. I’m sure I’ll get my shopping mojo back one day.

      But on the overhand sewing beats shopping any day. Shame I can’t sew the dinner. I hate grocery shopping.

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