There have been times in this lockdown when it felt like I’ve mended every day. Sometimes just adding a few stitches so that the underwire doesn’t peek out of there, or stitching a button back on. Or re-sewing the seam that keeps Mum and Dad’s shopping bag in use instead of it hitting the bin. Or sewing the binding back onto the edge of the gardening gloves. Darning my beloved’s slipper sole…
This much mended shirt began as flour bags from the Fremantle Roller Mills, with a big red dingo as well as the name of the mill and the weight of the bag. That was a long time ago! The front edge had worn down to fraying and the corner of the pocket had become a hole. So I covered the worn edge with some handkerchief fabric complete with rolled edge hem–it was in the scrap pile so must not have made the final cut for a hanky!
For those wondering how the patches on the inside are wearing–here’s the inside. The madder dyed thread has been through many washes, some focused more on getting out the grime than protecting plant dyes.
The back is now so thin the patches from my mother-out-law’s kimono dressing gown can be seen right through it. But I love wearing this shirt… it feels so soft and lovely and is such a good gardening companion. I’m just going to wait and see when the time comes that I don’t want to mend it again.
Under that indigo dyed thread is a small patch taken from the scrap pile to reinforce the pocket corner. The time for this shirt has not come yet!
Long, long ago (the 1980s) I was a university student in the days before voluntary student unionism. Everyone paid a student union fee, and a lot of student services were paid for in this way, that no longer exist on university campuses in Australia. On my campus there was a craft studio. It was a thing of wonder to me that there was a space with a part time staff member where you could go and make stuff for free or for cheap. The woman who ran it would teach you things at a basic level and let you go. As a young activist, I learned how to do basic screenprinting, and in the days before photocopying and laser printing were freely available and good to look at, this is the way we created posters for events or occasionally, t shirts.
There is nothing fancy about my skills and lack of practice has not improved them, I’m sure. But to my surprise sometimes at Extinction Rebellion crafternoon I’ve been the one teaching screen printing, because others don’t know how, at all. The embrace of imperfection in Extinction Rebellion is a good fit for my lived imperfection. Before we went to lockdown, I had borrowed one of the very much preloved and probably 1980s era silk screens that had been donated to us and a friend’s squeegee. I had op shopped up sheets in good colours (and some that are less good)… and now I’ve also had time for digging around for stencil artwork and creating some of my own. I made this screen with stuff from an art shop (that was not available in the 1980s!!)
Plus the traditional one, cut in this case from a roll of second hand wallpaper from the Adelaide Remakery.
Between them, my first effort resulted in a lot of patches and my second, in patches and some bag blanks…
And some of them turned out quite well, especially considering the less than perfect combination of a very much used screen and my basic skills.
I received a copy of Make and Mend by Jessica Marquez for Christmas, and I just can’t resist a bag, apparently. I loved the idea of a feature embroidered pocket, and did I ever have jeans in need of transformation. Some from op shops and some from friends who have heard I can make something from their dead clothing.
I found a nice sized tin for the needed supplies and well before we hit this current period of staying home, I was stitching my way through train trips and visits and such like.
I liked the first one so much it grew into a series (those who have followed this blog for a while will recognise this phenomenon). Eventually I batched out the straps and the bags and the linings, several of which were made with last summer’s indigo experiments.
Eventually I had a series of bags. My father actually commented that one of these was quite elegant. Coming from him, an astonishing compliment!
And the view from the back. A project so thoroughly satisfying that as I write this post I have started stitching some more pockets!!
I see a lot of pictures of mending on instagram and some of them are so pretty. My gardening jeans are not like that. I may have mentioned it! And they are not getting prettier. But I was a bit shocked when I happened to look inside one sunny day and realised how much of them has become translucent!
The much mended area above isn’t looking great, and the cuffs are sad too.
For the curious, here is how those hand stitched mends are faring on the inside.
Mmm. Well, I’ve decided that given how much time I’ve been spending in the garden lately, I need two pairs of gardening jeans, and there are lots of choices at the bottom end of my wardrobe. This pair have gone from one torn knee to two.
So here is the second knee mend on the other pair–the hole, the patch pinned in place–and the patch finished and pulled a little too tightly (at the bottom of the picture, in case you can’t tell). I loved the look of the larger stitches but they were a bit vulnerable. And all my gardening wear has had a lot of use since we have been spending so much more time at home!
Some time back, I dyed the last of my Tonne of Wool Tasmanian cormo handspun yarn. It is soooo soft I decided to make for the grandbub with it.
And with little knits, there just isn’t a long story to tell! This person now has an 11 cm long foot, bless her. These are the Baby-Hausschuhe from Ines Sttrickt (available for free, and in several languages).
I have now received a video of the grandbub rolling around on the floor with these on her little feet. And I get calls with narration sometimes, like “now she is throwing them in the air”… “now she is banging them together” and “sometimes they stay on for hours!”
In one of the patches I garden, there has been flooding in one part and drought in another for an extended time. I noticed it quite some time ago. I couldn’t figure out why, and chose plantings accordingly (as both flood and drought had caused the original plantings to die off).
Recently I figured out the problem.
It’s a nice, clean cut. I can’t see any way this can have happened, other than someone cutting it, with a tool, in two places. Mind you, that might be my limited imagination.
A friend helped me understand the way the watering system was constructed in a way that made me understand that I could fix it. Now maybe I should just have called the council. But actually, I call them pretty regularly to report things like this, and this time I couldn’t bear to. Instead, today I put my tools in my bucket, took a feed sack, and went to sort it out myself. Not pretty, but I used what I had. Not perfect, but surely an improvement. I just removed the century clips the way Dad taught me, subbed in a generous length of garden hose, and tightened up the clips again. Let’s see how the cycle of flood and drought goes now!