Last week on Twitter I mentioned that I might attempt a mending project in-between coughing fits. @HollyWillNot (who is my brother’s wife’s stepsister–got that?) said:
“You can pretend you’re a dying-of-tuberculosis 19th-century textile worker while you sew. It’ll be fun!”
To which I replied, “I have already been playing that imagining-I’m-dying-of-TB game HOW DID YOU KNOW?”
And then over the next few days I beat that joke like a dying horse. (Do horses get tuberculosis? Just herpes?) I also continued to work on mending projects, including some that would not normally be attempted by a 21st-century woman.
I’ve been a member of an internet smocking-and-heirloom-sewing forum since Mabel was a baby, and although I’ve done a whole lot more talking than sewing, I’ve made some great friends. The year Rose was born, I mentioned that what with having a new baby, I hadn’t had time to make an Easter dress for Mabel.
The next thing I knew, an amazing friend (whom I’d never met in person) whose daughter was getting a little old to be willing to wear smocked dresses asked me for my address. And soon a beautiful dress came in the mail. It was of cotton organza with woven swiss dots, hand-smocked and with hand embroidery. I haven’t ever made anything as nice. And I still haven’t “paid forward” anything that generous. (I have a lot to live up to when I recover from my textile-worker-TB.)
Mabel wore the dress a lot, and then a few years later Rose grew into it.
She chewed a hole in the sash of the dress.
It’s been in my mending pile ever since. And then today I repaired it, like the good 19th-century woman that I am.
I used a size 11 milliner’s needle (because it was the finest needle I had) and some 50-weight cotton thread. (I would have used a finer thread if I’d had any around.) I cut a little circle of cotton organza, stitched around its perimeter with tiny backstitches, and then stitched running stitches back and forth over the hole.
I think it turned out nicely. It’s not invisible but at least it’s tidy.
Best of all, I’m only coughing a little bit now. (Instead, I’m sneezing all day long. What’s that saying? A change of symptoms is as good as a cure?) And my mending pile’s a little smaller, and in a couple of years, Hazel will have her turn to wear the pretty dress.