November 12, 2010

Reader Question: Labeling Clothes

Rachel writes:
My first son has just started preschool and I'm supposed to label his extra clothes, jackets, etc. However, some of his clothes are hand me downs (mostly labeled with sharpies) AND I have a second son who will be wearing all of these items in a year or two. Any great suggestions for labeling clothes that can then be "relabeled" for a future child???

Thank you so much for any tips.

ACK, I KNOW, this drives me NUTS!! My eldest went on a one-week sleepaway trip and they wanted Every! Single! Item! labeled, including SOCKS, I am not even kidding. And some clothes have no tags for writing on, or the labels are black or whatever, and some stuff (sleeping bags, pillow cases) belongs to the whole family so I don't want just one person's name on it.

What I do for most stuff is write with fine-tip permanent marker our surname only, no first name so it can work for handmedowns, on the label or even on the fabric itself if there's no label or if the label has already been written on and I needed to scribble it out.

For things with no place to write (or things I don't want written on), I use a strip of masking tape and write on THAT---but then that has to be replaced a few times as it curls up and/or peels off, or if the item needs to be laundered.

For spare clothes, I put them in a gallon-size Ziploc baggie and I write on the baggie instead of the clothes.


Can anyone add some more tips? And has anyone tried iron-on labels or other solutions?

30 comments:

M.Amanda said...

I have the same issue. Nearly all of my daughter's clothes have been worn by others - mostly cousins, but some yard sale and thrift store finds. Some of them already have other names in them and I might still have another little girl, so scratching out the other names and writing hers could get messy.

Since her daycare has a half dozen other little girls around her size, coats get mixed up, so something needs to remind them whose coat is whose. I kicked around the idea of sewing labels, but I am not good at that stuff and, quite frankly, I don't have the time or desire to go through the trouble. I thought of just sewing a brightly colored thread also, but again... me, needle, thread = kind of chore I put off.

I finally settled on a symbol, a blue heart with a red center. My daughter knows it without being able to read. The sitter associates it with our family. I can draw it onto the label in 5 seconds. When the item gets passed on outside the family, it can be blacked out.

This may not work as well if you have more kids than you have available symbols. Or if you have so many symbols that you can't remember what family uses which symbol. Right now, it's been a great relief for us.

Becky said...

Ugh, this drives me crazy! I have an only child, and when she's done with her clothes I sell them at my local consignment shop (if and when possible). I don't want her name blasted all over the place, added to the fact that someone else will need to label them someday! I don't have a good solution, I just wanted to add my HARUMPH to the pile. :)

kakaty said...

I've always kicked around ordering a pack of something like Mabel’s Labels for clothes, using just our surname or, since both kid's names start with the same letter, first initial and surname. But, then I would think resale would be hard as the labels are permanent.

But since I tend to purchase the expensive things (snow gear, coats, etc.) in gender neutral so both kids can wear them, maybe I shouldn’t worry about resale and just get the labels already.

M.Amanda said...

Clarification on the last paragraph: It may not work as well if a lot of other families do this and eventually it becomes difficult to find a symbol not already in use by another family. It may also confuse teachers who have to associate symbols with families.

MoMMY said...

I just label with our last name. I have 4 boys so by the time they are done with their clothes, they are usually ready for the trash. The ones I do hand down go to their cousins and they don't seem to mind. And I'm of the Sharpie on the tag group.

Mar said...

I prefer labels for clothes over Sharpies because you can put them on over some prior owner's name (we have a lot of clothes from cousins etc.)Labels are also easier to see without hunting. Since I have three boys, I'm not concerned about resale as we'll get plenty of use out of each item without leaving the family. I do surname only, and use Olivers Labels for both clothing and food containers (they have special allergy-warning ones that make life a little safer for my allergic kids).

Snoopyfan said...

I just bought a roll of iron on tape at the fabric store and put it in my daughter's clothes. It comes with a wash proof pen and I peeled it out when she had outgrown the items.

The annoying thing was, her preschool NEVER ONCE took the items out of her backpack and she did not have the same coat as anyone else so it was unnecessary! I have yet to label my son's clothes-I don't see the point.

I like Swistle's idea of putting them in a bag and labeling the bag.

Therese said...

Since my last name is Smith, writing only the last name is not really an option... At my child's current daycare, I don't have to label but when he moves to preschool next year I do. I have already looked into iron-on tape. Usually it's sturdy enough to last through washes and multiple uses and with little work can be peeled off for re-sale and/or hand me downs. Like others, I hate to use a permanent marker on an item of clothing that might be consigned and/or used by a younger sibling. Also, the symbol idea is great for older kids I think. I clearly remember my father using a marker on our bags, coats, etc... in Middle School to make a unique symbol.

lisak said...

I've used a Sharpie, a laundry pen (works better than the Sharpie) and iron on labels. Generally it's a pen for the onesie-twosie items--like coats and backpacks. The iron on labels work really well and are pretty quick. I did all the clothes that have gone with my sons to camp (and towels). My youngest came home from camp and told me *not* to label his underwear again. No one wants to be the kid who's called to the front of the dining hall when they are sorting through lost and found for their underwear. I usually just do our last name, that way any of us can use something.

Kathy said...

For coats and other outdoor clothing, I sew on patches or colored buttons--the trick is to use the same image/color for a particular child and a different one for a different child.

I use a Sharpie marker to write our surname on indoor clothing and other items the child brings to school (a toy or book for show-n-tell, etc.).

wisdomandpeace said...

I use the iron-on labels. The cost is insignificant compared with the price of new clothing. They generally stay on through the wash, though they might start to peel at the edges a bit after a year or so (you can just iron them back down). I have a girl and a boy and there isn't much of my daughter's clothing that's gender-neutral enough for my son to eventually wear, so I label with first and last name, but you could easily just use a last name. I also have our phone number printed on the label, in case the item is lost somewhere besides school. If you want to remove the label to hand the item down or donate it, I generally don't have any trouble ripping it off. By the time the item is ready to move on, it's been washed enough times that the label has loosened up anyway. I have also tried the "taggies" labels from Mabel's Labels and most of them fell off after a wash or two. They stick fine on hard surfaces (folders and notebooks for school), but I haven't had any success getting them to stick for very long on fabric (which is what they're made to stick to).

Carmen said...

We have to label everything at my kids' daycare (even socks - which I refuse to do). I bought the stick-on labels (Tag Mates) from Mabel's Labels (http://www.mabel.cawith our surname only. I have only had to replace one once - they are amazing. Before that, I used a Sharpie on the tag, but now that lots of kid's clothes are tagless that just doesn't work. Now I can stick a Mabel's label right on to the inside of the shirt. The daycare mixes up clothes constantly, so for us it's a good thing to have the labels on the clothes.

Except for socks. I'd rather lose socks, than waste my time labelling them.

LoriD said...

I use the Mabels Labels mini-sticky labels (surname only) for everything - coats, backpacks, shoes, tupperware... - they take a lot of abuse and have always done the trick. They do have clothing labels too, but I've never used them.

Maggie said...

I've taken to using a Sharpie in my son's clothes - at elementary school, stuff goes in the lost and found and if it's not labeled, never returned to the proper owner. Still, I suck with a needle and thread (and probably even with the iron-on labels).

My daughter's stuff is supposed to be labeled for day-care too, but to be honest, she's my last, most of her stuff is hand-me-downs from cousins, and as a consequence she has WAY more clothing than necessary, so unless it's something special, I don't bother to label her clothing and write it off if it gets "lost" at day-care.

Fay said...

Aww. I have no further suggestions, but wanted to tell you that my Mama labeled (with the iron-on labels) all my stuff before I went off to college in 1989, and I still have several of the towels with my name on them. And now they make me smile. :)

jen(melty) said...

I use mabel's type labels (mabel is too expensive tyvm. Look on etsy, they are JUST AS GOOD.) and also, buying your own label maker. Not pretty but I have labels on sippy cups that have gone thru the dishwasher for ages.. and they are cheap to replace if they dont' make it.

The labels have my last name and phone number. If I need the child's name I use the label maker. For clothing, if it has a dedicated name/address tag, I'm writing in it (like llbean/land's end stuff) - just last name and phone number.. and all the rest I use the etsy labels - you can buy blanks and stick them together back to back around a tag. Then when you want to remove it just cut the end off and peel it off. For shoes, you can also buy those clear shoe blanks that mabel sells. Or you could just write in them, because I don't sell shoes. I have purchased bean jackets with the kid's name in it and did not even care (I know, gasp, right?) It was blacked out with marker but it had faded enough to write in green sharpie over it.

There is a company online that makes labels that you can iron on to things like socks and underwear (they also sell the label blanks) http://www.appliedlabels.com/ (you can also buy them from this company on amazon) I like these because I like one label that I can use for everything, not special ones that are only for X or Y.

Anonymous said...

2 kids, pre-school and day camp veteran here - I didn't bother and it never mattered. Extra clothes were in a bag (e.g. gallon ziplock) with his name on them in a cubby. I only labeled the coats, and then only if I could write (our last name only) with laundry marker on the tag, otherwise I didn't bother. The very few times something got misplaced (e.g. hat or mittens) I found it myself in lost-and-found.

So I suggest ignoring this rule unless the school specifically gives you trouble (or clothes get lost).

Anonymous said...

Best to plan ahead: marry a guy with a unique surname. Or retain your own if it is more unique. Or hyphenate. Then give your kids names begining with the same letter. Have kids of the same gender.

Worked for me!

Today Wendy said...

My mom always used iron on labels. Small ones, maybe 5mm x 20mm, with the names pre-printed. No idea where she got them from, but I had a label ironed on to each pair of underwear, and on the sole of each sock. I think this was for sleep-away camp. Came in really handy at the end of the week when we were all packing up in the giant dorm room which slept 20 kids and my random dirty socks & underwear came flying at me from all directions...
I remember the iron on labels sticking quite well, even after getting washed regularly. The corners would start to peel up after a while...months I think...and you can just peel them off without damaging the clothes when you're handing them down.

jen(melty) said...

I agree with the last anon, leave it be, BUT!! I disagree at the same time, because lately I've found that schools will write the kid's name in sharpie in whatever the teacher's dumb handwriting is, right across the front of your item. So I've taken to labeling things myself now :)

Livinia Redlips said...

I too have the roll of label tape from the fabric store (comes w/the pen to write on it) - but I prefer to use an ultra fine point sharpie to write on the label tape.

I also round the corners of the tape so it does not itch and helps prevent it from peeling off prematurely.

When the garmet is on to the next child - you can just peel the label tape out.

Samantha said...

I worked in a costume shop in college. We had to label EVERY. SINGLE. ITEM. individually. We cut short (about two inch) strips of bias tape, wrote the names on, then did a quick hand stitch on both of the short sides to keep in it whatever item of clothing it labeled. Takes about one or two minutes (less once you get the hang of it), stays on in the wash, easy to cut out and redo for future children. No peeling or curling. Just a simple tag.

Kelley said...

I've worked in the costume shop of a theatre. EVERY THING needed non-permanent, but long lasting labels (often times, costumes used for one production would be re-used in a later production with different actors). We would write the actor's name on a piece of white fabric about 1/4" thick, then sew it somewhere on the inside of the garment (usually near wherever there was already a tag) with just a few stitches at either end of the label.

Jenni said...

We just do the surname as well.

Raisin'Cookies said...

When my eldest started school three years ago, I bought personally printed iron-on labels and ironed them onto every bit of her clothing. Ugh! Fast forward to when my son started school this January, I just used a ballpoint pen and wrote our surname on the tags.

I have seen a few children with their names embroidered into their uniform clothes. This takes effort, but it's cheap (we all have a needle and thread lying around) and will last washings longer than a pen would.

I am suffering from my lazy name labelling habits now, though; at the beginning of the school year, we had 8+ school sweatshirts. We now have TWO. Sigh.

Anonymous said...

http://www.janice.lovablelabels.ca/

Try these labels. I love the press on clothing dots. They go on, and stay on. Yet with fingernails you can peel them off if you need too. They are way easier than the sharpie or the iron ons. I also love the shoe labels!!!

misguided mommy said...

I do the same thing, I use our last name only so it can be handed down. But then I realized that when I hand it down to my friends they are kind of screwed since my last name is scribbled all over their clothes now

Bethsix said...

We have four kids and would like to reuse things, but our surname is Beth, so we can't really label with that. We've labeled dishes with our last name, in fact, and had them come home relabeled with our kids' first names (annoying... my 9-year-old son doesn't want to go to school with a container labeled with his 6-year-old sister's name).

We bought a bunch of labels with each of our kids' names - little ones for clothes, bigger ones for dishes, round ones for shoes, chain bag tags for the two oldest kids' backpacks. I did a bunch of comparing on prices, and I think we went with Mabel's Labels, but I don't remember.

Something I DID learn, though, is REALLY, you can use the little labels on just about everything. No need to get the different sizes. And THEN, you can put little labels for multiple kids on things. So, for our two oldest kids who use the same lunch containers, we put one of each of their names.

Mommy Daisy said...

I see it's been suggested already, but try Mabel's Labels. They have clothing labels that are soft and work great with clothing, and they can be washed!

Christina said...

PERFECT TIMING! I read this earlier today, pondered it, and then read this on somebody else's blog.

At the bottom - about the dots!!