Make Do & Mend What You Have…

Last time here I mentioned I had some mending to do in the New Year.  These mending projects do not sound like fun, but they are necessary to preserve what we have and avoid buying “brand new” whenever a rip or tear occurs.  Usually we think about mending socks and ripped shirt seams, but lately I have been mending household textiles.

As you can see below, you don’t really need a fancy sewing machine for mending.  This budget Janome machine has done just fine for the past 5 years…for mending and sewing new things, too.

img_3242Now for mending:  first up, cotton flannel duvet, 15 years old, plenty of wear, but not yet ready for rags.


When mending, you want to choose like materials for patching, so new flannel scraps with old flannel duvet.

I know, it doesn’t match.  It was really tricky getting the large duvet scrunched under the machine arm.  But the end result satisfied me, until the bobbin ran out.

Just before the bobbin ran out of thread.
Just before the bobbin ran out of thread.
Large duvets can be difficult to wedge under the sewing machine arm.

My second piece of mending is just below here.


Next I tackled the bed sheet which had a hole in it and had been previously hand-sewn with a small patch.  It not only didn’t look very good but I feared with one wash it might come loose.  You can see the small hand-dyed moon patch I had made for another purpose.  I thought it would be a good fit here.img_3250

img_3251I chose to use the zig-zag stitch for this one, beginning in a circle and moving in.  I broke a couple of bobbin threads with the forward and reverse stitching, but it worked in the end.  Neither of these patch jobs will win any prizes, but I have the use of this wonderfully soft and cozy bedding for perhaps another year or two.

What have you mended lately?



Mending in the New Year

Two years and three days ago, I vowed to stop buying new clothes…not for any particular length of time, but I initially thought one year would suffice.  Why did I make this decision?  Without going into a long political diatribe, I noticed my new clothes didn’t last very long and that they were also predominantly made in Southeast Asia.

At the same time, I had been reading about the “sweat shop” clothing factories overseas and the subsequent tragedies which had occurred.  The big fire in India which killed over 900 people comes to mind.  And I had read about other disasters in places like Indonesia and China.  With all of that in mind, I agreed (with only myself) that I would stop buying clothing.  And it’s been two years now!

When you decide to stop buying clothing, you need to begin wearing what you have and/or make new clothing.  I went into my cotton fabric stash and made a few new tops and a skirt.  But then I began mending.  And once I started mending clothing, I thought, why not mend household textiles?

So, in the New Year, I plan to do mending:  This will need to be re-weaved.

Navajo rug detail
Navajo Rug

While I am a novice weaver at this point, I have never before re-woven anything.  But I plan to learn.

I also have a bed sheet and a duvet cover which are beginning to shred and tear.  They have  plenty more use left in them, and they are really, really soft and cozy.  Here is the duvet cover:

Worn cotton duvet cover
Cotton bed sheet, patched

Are you a mender or a patcher?  Do you have a preferred method?  I know I need to re-sew the bed sheet, perhaps with my sewing machine.  Any tips on mending or re-weaving?

Review: SunMoonStars Cloth

As the year closes soon, I felt it was time to review my progress on Story Cloth:  SunMoonStars.  There are four of them now, in all different stages.


SunMoonStars #1
SunMoonStars #1




SunMoonStars #2
SunMoonStars #2

(And maybe not…)





Only Getting Started:

Super Moon (SunMoonStars #3)
Super Moon (SunMoonStars #3)

Early Planning Stages:


(Note to self:  Learn how to arrange photos on your Blog Site in the New Year).

SunMoonStars #4
SunMoonStars #4

Repurposing at Christmastime: New Bags From Old Scraps

My sibs and I used to exchange Christmas gifts back in the day.  But we are all grown up and have children of our own.  Some of us even have grandchildren (not me, yet!)  And there are six of us.  So every year I like to make something small to give to my 4 sisters and one brother, although brother’s wife usually gets the girly gifts.

This year I decided to make travel pouches from scraps of fabric and bits and bobs.  Here’s what I made–There’s a little bit of personalization in the small details.img_3182  A button here, a cotton drawstring there.  img_3184A scrap of Laura Ashley fabric, an old tie-dyed curtain.  And a piece of my brother’s old denim jeans (for my SIL).  Can you spot the Laura Ashley?  Tana Lawn from Liberty of London?  My hand-dyed vintage lace?  Merry Christmas to all of you, and peace in the New Year.



Giving New Life to Old Linens

This past natural dyeing season–that’s Spring, Summer and Fall in Chicago–went so quickly I scarcely had time to consider all that I dyed.  I created lots of hand-dyed scraps of natural cloth, including linen, silk and cotton.  Some of the cloth was for my personal story cloth making, and some of it was sold in my Etsy shop.

I also repurposed some old vintage linens, mostly hand towels and napkins.  Small pieces, some hand-embroidered by others many years ago.  There was nothing so wrong about the linens except that aging look and maybe a few pinholes.  I naturally dyed many pieces with madder, logwood, Fustic, mint leaves, chamomile, cutch and black walnut.

Huck towel shibori dyed (wrapped pipe)
Huck towel detail, shibori dyed logwood and Fustic

I enjoy looking at the special touches added to vintage linens back in the day: monograms and sweet embroidery stitches, scalloped edges, drawn work, and “hidden” texture.

Madder-dyed vintage linen napkins


Fustic dyed vintage  cotton hand towels

Next time:  Repurposed cloth Christmas “patchwork” gifts.

Super Moon Arises

Ever since super moon arrived awhile ago, I have been thinking about creating a Super Moon Cloth as part of the SunMoonStars Series.  But super moon has to be really spectacular, doesn’t it?

Super moon arises, a vintage tie-dye scrap
Super moon arises (vintage tie-dye scrap)
Super Moon arises amidst other planets and stars, including the Sun
Super Moon arises amidst other planets and stars, including the Sun

I found a background cloth of cotton batiste, which I had shibori-dyed with black walnut exhaust.  It’s got those nifty little planets roaming around the universe.

And then I found a scrap of cutch-dyed jersey, which looks like an excellent sun or star.  But wait a minute.  What is the difference between a “star” and a “sun”?  Cornell University states that a star is called a sun “…IF (my caps) it is the center of a planetary system.”  That’s in the beginner series for those who are astro-curious. And, of course, it’s much more complicated than that.  OK… I will need to be careful what I call my scraps of cloth.

A sun, or “the sun” or just another star (cutch dyed organic jersey scrap)
A sun, or “the sun” or just another star (cutch dyed organic jersey scrap)

Thinking About Moons

Lately–ever since Super Moon appeared and disappeared–I have been thinking about moons.

Nine Moon Indigo Patches (Jude Hill)
Nine Moon Indigo Patches (Jude Hill)

Moon over Miami


Blue Moon

Man in the Moon

Man on the Moon

Cow jumped over the Moon

And, “I’ll be looking at the moon, but I’ll be seeing you.”

Moon time to be stitching.