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Entries in mending (16)


The Lady in Cherry Red

Bedecked in red. Do not actually go out into the street like this.

The colour red follows a close second to robin’s egg blue (aka turquoise, tiffany blue) as my favourite colour.

When I attended TAFE in the year after high school, and prior to college, I used to wear a red tracksuit on painting days. This was in the days before Juicy Couture, but it’s not as horrible as it sounds. The top and pants were loose but not enormous, and the top had satin shirttails. I also carried a bright red folio – no boring black portfolio for me to carry my life-drawings around! One of my fellow students called me the lady in red.

I’ve moved on since then. I don’t wear tracksuits, and I am never completely decked out in monochrome. Fashion magazines advise it as a slimming technique, but I would feel a right fool going about in public like that.

Six shiny new buttons, and one of their predecessorsA little while ago I found this cute cropped wool jacket in a charity shop (for only $8!), but it was missing some buttons. The originals were covered in the same fabric, but I bought six new buttons, as shiny as boiled sweets. They were originally $5 each, but I managed to snaffle them during a sale, and paid only about $7.50 for the lot.

I find mending a tedious chore, and put it off as long as possible…

Now, I find mending a tedious chore, and put it off as long as possible. I had a visit with my family scheduled for last Sunday, and I knew I’d be sitting and chatting for a good couple of hours after lunch. This was a prime opportunity to undertake the boring chore. It was a rather cold day, and deliberately I took only this jacket with me so I knew I would have to sew the buttons back on in time to wear it home in the early evening when it was cooler.

Success! I sewed all the buttons back on in plenty of time. Ah, the lengths I have to go to psyche myself up for mending…

The three-quarter sleeves mean that my forearms get quite chilly, but these vintage leather gloves do the trick. The velvet hat is also vintage, by Otto Lucas Junior, and the leather belt I bought overseas, from Mango.

So, several lessons today: do sew (trick yourself into it if you have to); don’t wear all one colour (lest you feel silly); do wear ¾ gloves with bracelet-length sleeves; and do shop on sale. I probably don’t need to tell you that last one. 


A Good Yarn

A patch that just passes muster … from a distance. Don’t look at it up close!

Needlework used to be thought a fit occupation for a young lady to keep her occupied during those moments when she was not busy trying to captivate an eligible bachelor.

Nowadays few young ladies are fit for mending, let alone sewing. I remember once purchasing a skirt from an expensive designer boutique that had a loose button at the waistband. As I said I would take it as is, rather than wait to have the store mend it, the salesgirl gave me a needle and thread to take home! Obviously I didn’t look the sort to own a mending kit.

This hole is about an inch in diameter! Sob!Darning however is not something I was ever taught in textiles at school. Who has the time or inclination these days to darn holey garments?

I never did, until my favourite cashmere cardigan developed an enormous hole in the elbow – I don’t know how, but I suspect that old proverb, ‘a stitch in time prevents nine’ applied here.

This time I was determined to rescue my cardigan from charity shop doom, and purchased some Italian merino yarn. Researching darning online somewhat sketchily (I looked at a few diagrams), I learned that I should recreate the weave, and set to with gusto. I read afterwards that some darners unravel their yarn to get a finer thread and a more subtle result, but that would have unravelled my sanity I think.

Okay, look at it up close. Sure to make a professional darner shudder, but I got the weave happening, and it's less tawdry than a hole.I did without the wooden darning egg and started with the two tiny holes in each underarm as practice. By the time I was ready to tackle the giant hole, I felt more confident. It was fiddly work, and my eyes were sore from squinting, but I think I acquitted myself not too badly for a beginner! Fortunately the colour of the new yarn matches the cardigan so well it’s less noticeable.

I’ll be darned if I don’t wear my badge of honour with pride!

Click here and visit Colette Patterns for some vintage instructions on darning. (And such a cute illustration on the cover!)


How Many Years Bad Shopping Luck?

A few weeks ago I was shooting a whole bunch of accessories photos (which you haven’t seen yet) that required me to rummage around in my closet for suitable items to match my theme. Let me add that the flooring in my apartment consists of ceramic tiles that not a few dishes and glasses have fallen victim to in the past ten years.

I can now add a handbag to that lamentably lengthy list.

Admittedly this bag was a cheapie, new old stock found at a Salvos’ for $10. What do you think it went for retail? Forty bucks? But I liked its brash studs, chain handle and the super-size bling in the form of copper-coloured, mirrored glass. So Eighties. It was a bargain … except for the fact it only had one real outing!

As I poked around in a large cloth bag where I keep some of my small evening bags, it fell out. This should not have been enough to cause damage, but the cheap glue attaching the bling to the faux lizard skin gave way, and one of the little mirrors went smash on the floor.

…one of the little mirrors went smash on the floor.

I gazed at it mournfully for a few moments before I tenderly picked up the fragments and placed them on a bench. I knew I would never find a replacement piece. Ever the true professional, I decided instantly that the bag would have a lovely send-off in the form of a SNAP tribute … and then I carried on with the business of the day. The bag still featured in the accessories shot, its disfigurement obscured by a gold metal mesh bag.

But surely for such a little fashion crime I would only be penalised a few days’ bad shopping luck? Certainly no more than a month


The Big Tragic Hole

A favourite pair of wool trousers – chocolate brown with thin pink pinstripes – sported a big tragic hole in the knee. I had fallen over while racing for a train. It was apparently imperative I catch that particular train, not the one that was due to arrive two minutes later.

As I ran up the ramp, one foot was caught up in the flapping trouser of the opposite leg, and down I went. And all I got for my pains was a bloody knee and an enormous hole in my pants.

Did I at least make the train, you ask? I actually can’t recall – the mental affliction of the ruined trousers has obliterated any other memory of that day.

…one foot was caught up in the flapping trouser of the opposite leg, and down I went.

However, I decided I couldn’t possibly throw these pants out before attempting their repair. (I have done this in the past with other holey trousers to my regret. But then, those holes were chewed by moths, and I cannot be held accountable for fashion-rage caused by evil winged creatures of the night.)

So I sat down one evening recently and inspected the hole. It was, I saw (at about the size of a 15¢ piece, if such a coin existed), too vast a chasm to simply sew the edges together. The hole would have to be filled with something.

I trimmed the frayed edges and made the hole even bigger. My heart dropped. I brought out the iron and placed some brown ‘iron-on mend-it’ material (the fabric equivalent to spak-filler) on the inside. The heat of the iron forged the nice wool and ugly mending fabric into one.

Next I brought out an assortment of frills and furbelows and sundry other fripperies. Giant poodle? Cute, but No. Pretty cream lace flowers? They stood out like the proverbial, and besides, were not big enough to hide the eyesore. Black lace leaf it would have to be. At about 3cm wide and 2 high, it would just cover the atrocity.

I took pains to sew it on with the smallest stitches I could muster. It wasn’t easy I can tell you. I had to stuff one hand up the rolled trouser leg and force the needle through several thicknesses of fabric. I got quite sweaty and cross, but many pin-pricks and a sore neck later, voila! Ze trousers, she is finished!

The final result is much more subtle than the picture shows; one doesn’t notice the patch at first glance. (Although the first few times I wore them, I kept going to brush off the black thing attached to me.) I have decided they are fine: just a little quirky. After all, nobody’s perfect. 


Sew Necessary

Put your hand up if you like mending. Anyone? Anyone at all? … I thought not. Neither do I.

It is one of those pesky little chores that I put off for as long as possible. It’s not that I don’t know how to sew on a missing button – it’s more the fact this little chore always seems to consume an inordinate amount of time, what with hauling out the sewing box; threading needles; hunting for the missing button that I had put in a very safe place… so safe I can’t find it again.

However tedious it is though, it must be done. There is nothing more slovenly than gadding about in disreputable garments. Which means said garments are pulled off the hanger only to be immediately returned to them, unworn, when I realise I have not re-attached that belt loop, or replaced that button.

There is nothing more slovenly than gadding about in disreputable garments.

So, sew. My sewing box is actually a vintage tin, which I find more aesthetically appealing that one of those sewing boxes upholstered in tapestry fabric available from haberdashers. I have sorted out its contents into clear plastic bags so I can locate the required notion with minimum fuss. I also have a mini sewing kit for my bag – coincidentally a vintage-style tin that has become battered through the years.

Once upon a time I even knew how to operate a sewing machine. Back in high school I studied textiles in grade 7. None of our projects were particularly ambitious, but I still have one of the items I made from scraps scrounged from my older sister Blossom: a pencil case with the word ‘love’ spelled out on it.

One day I shall actually take that sewing machine mum bought me a couple of years ago out of storage and learn how to use it.