Today I attacked my mending pile from the bottom rather than from the top, and unearthed things that had been there since before Hazel was born (in some cases, long before). There were things that Rose hadn’t grown into yet when I put them in there, which are now much too small for her. Thank goodness I have Hazel and one more chance for things to be worn.
(What I’m really hoping for is granddaughters someday, since it seems I rarely manage to make time for creative sewing these days.)
Here are some things pertaining to mending that I will and won’t do:
I will: Be thrilled to borrow a dress my sister’s mother-in-law made for my nieces.
I won’t: Care that the dress is quite worn, since I love the fabric, trims, and pattern.
I will: Add to the darning my sister did at the center front of the dress where the fabric’s tearing.
I won’t: Remember to mend the tear I found in the skirt.
I will: Get around to that another time.
I will: Make a rick-rack flower pin to cover the darning.
I won’t: Be able to find even one package of navy rick-rack amongst my hundred-0r-so packages of vintage rick-rack. (Most of the rick-rack dates back to when I first discovered eBay.)
I will: Use my only pack of a nice dark red instead, because
I won’t: Make a trip to the store for navy rick rack.
I will: Spend 45 minutes making the pin.
I won’t: Fix it when it turns out lopsided.
I will: Look forward eagerly to Rose wearing the dress tomorrow.
I won’t: Pay attention when she says she doesn’t like the dress, but only likes the rick-rack flower.
I will: Let you know how that works out. (At least the flower gives me a bargaining chip.)
This photo doesn’t really do the dress justice.
So, after I’d finished that little project I fixed the elastic on the sleeves of two different dresses using elastic thread. I got the elastic thread several years ago; in fact, I worried it would have lost its elasticity, but I tested it and it still seemed to have plenty of spring. The way this technique works is that you hand-wind the thread onto the bobbin (so as not to overstretch it) (or you can machine-wind it if you go slowly and are careful) and put regular thread in the top, and stitch away–it’s that easy.
The one other important tip is that when you’re finished, you hold your iron about a half-inch above the stitching and shoot lots of steam at it, which will help it to scrunch up nicely. (When I was telling my mom this she said it was very counter-intuitive to her, which got me thinking, and I decided that the reason it works is that the steam softens the fabric, which allows the elastic to do its thing.) Sometime I’d like to try making a top for one of my girls with the whole bodice shirred this way, but for today it was a quick and easy way to repair some stretched-out sleeves.
This pink dress is one I purchased from a friend who sews, and it already had the sleeves done with elastic thread but it had become brittle or come loose. I think Rose only wore this dress once or twice before I put it away to fix the sleeves. When Rose and Mabel saw it today, they both wanted one just like it.
I wore this plaid dress in a portrait with my siblings when I was about four. When my mom handed it down to me a couple of years ago, it was in pretty bad shape, and since it was a cheap dress to begin with, my plan was to just let my girls use it for dress-up. I must have changed my mind, though, because when I found it in the back of my sewing room closet today, it was all fixed except for the sleeves. I had wanted to take a photo of Rose wearing it to compare to the one of me in it, but now it’s too small for her, and once again Hazel’s giving me one last chance (if I can just remember when she grows into it).
The Zen of housekeeping:
I don’t actually know anything about Zen, but I do know that Yoda complained to Luke that he needed to focus more on where he was and what he was doing, or innocent people would suffer. Or maybe it was that Luke needed to ignore his Force senses tingling to tell him that innocent people were suffering, so that other innocent people wouldn’t suffer even more. (Or something. I’m sure it all made sense to George Lucas at the time.) Anyway, in trying to be emotionally present, I’ve noticed that one of my biggest obstacles is never believing I’m doing enough: I might be mending old dresses, but worrying that I’m not spending time with my kids, nor outside hiking, nor paying bills. If I were doing one of those things, I’d be thinking about yet other things I’m not doing, and there’s always, always something undone. But when I think this way, I’m not Zen, nor Jedi, and I fail to enjoy and appreciate the opportunities I do have, and the things I do accomplish.
And innocent people suffer. (Or something.)
Sunday morning update: Rose picked out a different hand-me-down from my nieces to wear, and I forgot about the dress I wanted her to wear.