The cost of nostalgia

Rose and Mabel, on Hazel’s birthday earlier this year

Mabel’s had the top she’s wearing in this photo for at least two years, probably three, or maybe even four years, and she has worn it at least once a week as long as she’s owned it. It’s a size 7/8 and was meant to be a dress, and she’s 12 now, but she’s petite and it still fits her as a shirt. It’s faded and has some snagged and dangling threads, and a couple of permanent ink stains, and when she was putting her hand-print on the wall at the Hale Theater (a tradition at the end of the run of a show) she got some purple acrylic paint on it. At that point I thought it was surely time to retire it–but although the paint wouldn’t wash out, I was able to scrape off quite a bit of it, and the rest doesn’t actually show very much. So we kept it for a while longer.

Then today I was ironing it, and found a large L-shaped tear in the back of the ruffle. And that’s when it would have made perfect sense to finally throw it out. I actually started to put it in a bag to send to a thrift store. But then I remembered thrift stores throw away torn things, and then I thought it wouldn’t take long to do a quick mend on it so someone could get a little more use out of it. And then I thought, “Well, if I’m going to mend it anyway . . .”

So I found a scrap of cotton in a print that was close to the color of the top, cut out a patch with pinking shears, used fusible webbing to fuse it to the back of the tear, and machine-darned over it. It probably took ten minutes, maybe fifteen. (Probably less time than to write this post.) And it was a lot less miserable of a task than patching jeans, which I do all the time, but hate. And now Mabel can get a few more months out of the top.

(I think I did recently throw out the matching top Rose is wearing here, though. It was just as abused as Mabel’s, and I was fortunately a little less nostalgic about.)

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4 Responses to The cost of nostalgia

  1. Aunt Ginger says:

    Great mending job, Zina. I will NOT allow Barry to read this post as he repeatedly brings me threadbare jeans that he wants me to patch. I’m not talking L-shaped mending tears, but giant holes in the knees or along the zipper line. It’s NOT WORTH IT and of no nostalgic value, at least to me. I, too, have real trouble throwing out nostalgic items of clothing. I snagged some of Grandma Halls handmade dresses (ones she wore) to put into quilts. One day . . . .

    • zstitches says:

      I wouldn’t patch jeans under those circumstances, either. The only way I can bring myself to patch my kids’ jeans is to remind myself not just of the dollar cost of replacing them, but of the nuisance of taking them to the store to try jeans on–and then I also remind myself that even if I got them new ones, the new ones would soon need patching, too.

      Ike is so tall and thin he’s very hard to fit, so when his new-ish jeans recently got holes in the knees, I taught him how to patch his jeans. (I’m sure he will claim not to remember what I taught him. Even while we were working he was saying, “I probably won’t remember this.”) I worried he’d be embarrassed wearing the very noticeably patched jeans to school, but fortunately he says things like that don’t affect his self-esteem. But after we’d finished the patching project, one of the pairs of jeans turned out to have holes in the seat we hadn’t noticed, so they went back in the mending pile and are still there two months later.

      By the way, I had to add another piece of velcro to make the neckline small enough for Hazel to wear the Ginny gown, and it’s still kind of big on her, but she LOVES it. And it’s very cute. I’ll have to get a picture.

  2. the MomB says:

    That is a patch worth the work. Beautifully done.
    With practice, Ike will eventually remember how to patch his jeans, and he’ll be an unusual and lucky guy. I can think of someone else who will be lucky too, and revere you for training you son in these skills.

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