Summer festival of mending 2

I followed all that mendbroidery up with replacing the pocket bags on a pair of pants I made, apparently in 2010 (there is a cryptic note in my notebook but no fabric scrap stapled beside it).  They are Vogue 2698, though I have no aspiration to the studied ennui of the model on the envelope, nor her slenderness.  I butchered the welt pockets when I made these pants, and haven’t made a welt pocket since!  Just the same, there are some nice touches, like the home made bias binding made from recycled ties. I went all out on some of the finishing.

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The pocket bags were made from one of my grandma’s many scarves.  No one wanted them after she died.  So I took her scarves home and have since used them for all kinds of things. I am not close to running out, and years have passed.

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She had some real commitments in fashion of which her dedication to scarves worn with a gold coloured ring to hold them in position at her throat was only one.  In her lifetime she was an accomplished dressmaker and had trained in millinery.  She had made many a lovely outfit as well as curtains and every other household requirement.  In my lifetime, she loved things that didn’t crease above all else.  She adored crimplene from the point of its becoming available (she was an early adopter!) and made herself 100% polyester caftans.  Perhaps some of those long shapeless dresses were even muu muus!  As she lost her sight she kept sewing until it became impossible for her.  Even after she became unable to use her machine, she had a friend thread needles for her and kept a stash in a curtain in her bedroom where they were easy to find with her fingers, for little jobs.  She taught me how to hem a handkerchief when I was a small child and set me to English (paper) piecing with her scraps.  After she went blind, she gave me her overlocker, which I am still using (she’d love that, and expect no less).  She had taught left handers to crochet, and it was a lifetime achievement she mentioned to me more than once.  She had made more coathanger covers from polyester ribbon than anyone else in her town.

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But I digress… The pockets had given way most spectacularly in places. There was nothing for it but a complete rip out and retrofit.  Not my idea of a good time, I confess.  Off with the belt loops!  Out with the pocket bags!  And on and on it went until I had nice, plain, bottle green, intact pocket bags.  The mending doesn’t remedy any of the original defects of the garment, but that’s a pair of work pants for summer I can wear without showing off parts of me that shouldn’t be on display.  I did a quicker, less dramatic mend on the other pair I made the same year to address small holes in the pockets, and that’s some big items off my list.  But there are more, my friends.  There are more.

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Filed under Sewing

13 responses to “Summer festival of mending 2

  1. I love this post. I loved reading about your grandma’s skills and how she kept going even through the challenges that come with age. My Gran was an amazing knitter, she taught me to crochet amongst other things and I always remember her telling me that a drive from Northern Scotland to South West England was just enough time to crochet a shaped beret. One of the saddest days for me was when I asked her why she had stopped knitting, and she told me that she just did not feel like it anymore, that was when I knew she was really ill. I still have many things that she made for me, and even some wool remaining from her epic wool stash. Her admiration for ‘pure wool’, which I can hear so clearly in her Somerset accent will stay with me always and as I examine labels on garments and yarn ‘pure wool’ keeps my relationship with my Gran alive.


  2. manja

    I love this post too! The way the stories of your Grandma’s sewing and mending bring an extra dimension to the very elegant projects emerging from your summer festival of mending. A bit like a chorus of singers buoying up the voice of a beautiful lead …

    Makes me wonder why people find mending boring or tedious, when there are clearly many more tedious tasks…. like for instance, answering emails… or marking exam papers…. hmmm..

    I also liked reading about your Gran Lucy! She’s made me think about time, and what might be different if it were measured in terms of ‘the time it takes to crochet a shaped beret’!

    Liked by 1 person

    • There sure are a lot of things more tedious than mending. But I have to say how grateful I am for all these accounts of what it could mean to mend, beyond and beside the sheer fact of necessity, which remains a reality for most people. love the idea of time measured in shaped berets too. I have found that my share of time in the passenger seat going to Melbourne and back is enough to knit a pair of slippers as well as have a nap and a chat! But the bus to work is just a few rounds of a sock or perhaps enough time to fix a right royal mistake in a sock! Thanks so much…


  3. Beautiful post about your grandma…mine was a multi-talent as well. My sister and I had the most fashionable, elegant clothing made out of cast-offs from the rest of the family. I learned to knit from her and to sew…I wish I had paid more attention and used what I learned more consistently. Trying to catch up again now.


    • Another wonderful grandma story! Treasure our grandmothers… I think it is important to focus on all we did manage to learn and all we can remember and use and revel in. And not so much the things we didn’t understand when we were small. That capacity to turn castoffs into elegant outfits just sounds so wonderful, almost magical!


  4. Rebecca

    It always amazes me just how many stories are sewn into hand made clothes and repairs. Fast fashion just cannot compete with the meanings and memories in well worn clothes. So many layers of memory are in your trees…marvellous!


    • This is such a wonderful feature of the handmade and hand repaired, I think. I always loved touching a quilt and remembering where so many little scraps of fabric had come from. That dress, the bag of scraps from grandma, the fabric that made up my primary school book bag (a welcome companion on trips to the library–which has always been a magical place for me). To this I can now add thinking about the local trees that gave colour to thread, and so much more… Wonderful!


  5. The everyday stories of women’s lives are so comforting. I love that you all have such strong memories of these women in your lives and that these everyday stories are actually just as important to remember as the worlds most important historical events. My mother is a fantastic sewer and there are so many sewing ideas that I have that I never even start. Does anyone have advice how to plan one’s day so it is as productive as these inspIrving blogs?I reckon turning off the telly would be the first step.


    • More stories of women’s work and skill and care and love. Fantastic! Turning off the TV is one way. Adopting ways of working that mean you can stitch while you watch if you stick to the TV is another. Lots of these projects are simple enough, or have simple steps. Those I persist with often have the capacity to be carried around and revisited for short periods when complex thinking just will not be possible as a feature–that’s one reason I can do them!


  6. Susan

    Another great mending post! Thank you for pushing us foreward. My Gran made us fabulous suits for Easter and somewhere I have a picture of us, complete with white gloves and purses! love it, ? ages 6 and 7


  7. oh gosh…I remember a photo like Susan’s! My sister and I in matching woolen winter coats (made by gran from the men’s castoff jackets or coats) and real hats with feathers in the hatband made by my mother who had taken millinery classes.


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