Making do and mending.

posted in: Family, sewing, Simple living, vintage | 1

As with any family, we pass our clothes around. From friends, to friends, from older sibling to younger sibling. At any given time there is usually a stack of clothes somewhere waiting for someone to grow into them. Except for DS1 who is now bigger than the boys in our circle of friends, so he is at the start of all the chains rather than the end anymore.

DS2 - 2011 age 11
DS2 – 2011 age 11

Saturday night saw me decide that DS2 needed to try on a new suit. We wear formal clothes to our bible meetings, and I love seeing our boys dress up in nice clothes every week. Finding suits for them when they are younger can be a challenge, as these days most people only buy suits for weddings or other super-formal occasions. So, I shopped our wardrobe stash and discovered the next suit in line for him. Size 12 jacket, perfect fit. Matching size 14 pants, um, not so much.

Step one…. turn up the hems. Thankfully they didn’t have rolled cuffs, and I didn’t want to cut anything off the bottoms as this was definitely not going to be a long-term hemming, I give him 6 months maximum before they need to come down again. Out with the black thread, and I neatly folded the hem up inside the leg and invisibly stitch away. Perfect. A little press with a cloth and steam and they are ready for action.

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However, the waist was a mile to big for my skinny little rabbit of a 13yo. He has no waist, no hips and no meat on his bones. Time was, I would have let him cinch his belt as tight as he wanted, and hoped his jumper or jacket hid the disaster that was his waistband, but I guess I’m getting fussy in my old age. Thanks to my recent obsession with “The Great British Sewing Bee” I understood a lot more about men’s tailoring and trouser construction than I ever had before. Did the waistband have a centre back seam? Check. Excellent. All I had to do was unpick the seam, curving it away to the seat of the pants, and then re-sew the seam taking in an inch or so off the seat and the waist.

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Yes, I was starting to get a little nervous at this point because it was Saturday night and I had just passed the point of no return, however, I had faith that I knew where all the parts went, and I persevered. I’m so glad that I did! After  a good press, I’d estimate that I took out about 1 1/2 to 2 inches. The seat doesn’t quite sit perfectly on him, but I wasn’t actually shaping for the seat, and the waist sat so much nicer that the belt was able to function normally and not like a mini-lasso instead.

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You can still faintly see the original seam line in the photo above, about halfway across the seam allowance that I have taken out. So if he grows again in the meantime, I can always reverse the process. At least I know how to do this in future, which is a very useful skill to have, as we have some rather diverse tailoring needs in this family!

Third project of the evening was to mend his book bag. I love this vintage bag. I originally picked it up in an op-shop for his big brother about 8 years ago. It has lasted very well, however the regular wear and tear had frayed the top stitching and the “leather” bound edge around the flap had come adrift. It looked very shabby having six inches of trim flapping loose, not to mention that it was only going to get further damaged the longer I left it.

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I found some linen thread in my stash, and carefully stitched it all back together. It was a bit tricky to get all the layers and holes lined up sometimes, but due to the age of the bag, making more holes would only have weakened things further. Although the new stitching is slightly obvious because of the colours, it certainly looks neat and strong and will last for a long time yet. The only problem I had with this project is that somehow I have never managed to buy a thimble, and boy, could I have done with one by the end of it! Lesson learned, I will pick one up next time I am at the fabric store, because I can tell by the other side of his bag that the same work will be needed sooner or later.

So, by being thrifty, passing down clothes (that I had been hanging on to for about 4 years at least!) making alterations and mending, he is neat and smartly dressed, and I have an amazing sense of accomplishment. Much more so than if I had run to the nearest shopping mall and waved my plastic cards for all new things. Even better? My DH was absolutely impressed. He just couldn’t get over what a difference an evening of alterations and mending had made, and he was really proud of the work I’d done. And that’s worth any amount of spending thrills in my book!

Just thought I’d also let you know, the biopsy did come back negative, like we were expecting. The radiologist was extremely confident, but he was also very thorough and wanted it for my peace of mind. Thank you to those who emailed (love you Sharon!) and commented and sent me happy thoughts.Happy Crafting - Cassie.

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One Response

  1. So pleased for you, Cassie … enjoy your good news!!! 🙂

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