I cannot imagine simply throwing out (to landfill) every item that ceases to function perfectly.
Mending is definitely a skill worth nurturing. Some mending jobs are relatively simple while others are a bit more complex. Replacing a trouser zip definitely falls into the latter category in my opinion. It is not one of my favourite tasks. However, there is enormous satisfaction at restoring an otherwise useless garment to a functional piece.
The first step is to carefully remove the existing zip. Replacing a zip is made more difficult by the fact that it is not the final step when the garment was originally constructed. Unpick as much stitching as required to insert the new zip.
One side pinned in place.
I stitched the first side and worked out how to place and stitch the other side.
Here is the final result with the fly folded back to show the zip. It was a previously salvaged zip from a worn-out garment and I was fortunate to find a reasonable colour match and the correct length.
I retired from full-time, paid employment in July 2019 so it is now 15 months since I was last in the office. My finishing date was pretty much decided at least 2 years prior to my retirement. I did not really contemplate gradually reducing my hours or other strategies to ease into retirement. This bemused many people who continually quizzed me as to what I was going to do when I retired. I did not really have a clear answer which made them even more convinced that I would return.
The last 15 months has been somewhat of a rollercoaster. 6 weeks after my final day in the office, we headed overseas for a much-anticipated 9 week holiday. It was an amazing adventure which we thoroughly enjoyed. Towards the end of the trip GMan and I independently came to the same conclusion – that we would have a break in 2020 and not go overseas. What a fortuitous decision that proved to be. We had previously considered travelling to Scandinavia this year.
Upon our return from overseas towards the end of October we had barely 2 months at home before setting off on a road trip to Victoria. We spent Christmas with family and then planned to visit areas in eastern Victoria and south-eastern NSW but the worst bushfires in living memory crushed that plan. We did manage to visit more family in Canberra and experienced the impact of the smoke first-hand. Not a pleasant experience.
Home again in early January and we imagined that 2020 would be a time to settle into a steady routine. Enter COVID19 and the world seemed to be completely upturned. We were very grateful for the space we had – house and large garden, a well-stocked pantry as well as a garden which supplied at least some of our food requirements, not having paid work to try to do from home or children to homeschool. We were unable to see or visit family and friends for several weeks but this was barely a minor inconvenience compared to what some people have had to endure.
In fact, COVID19 gave us the opportunity to focus on projects around our home. A quick scroll through previous blog posts provides a bit insight. Compost bays, a cold frame, more raised garden beds and finishing the pergola are some of the outdoor improvements. Meanwhile, I prepared meals made predominately from our homegrown produce as well as sewing and mending. Furniture restoration completed.
As restrictions were lifted we resumed some of our activities and interests outside the home. Which brings me to the essence of this blog post.
It is easy to become immersed in a particular interest or activity to exclusion of most others. Therefore, my goal is to identify broad categories and try to include a mix of activities/interests. It is probably not feasible to try to do this each day but I think that it is possible within the timeframe of a week.
After some thought, I have come up with a list of general categories which cover most of the things I do. Yours may be a little different.
Administration Appointments Community engagement Craft and creating Family Friends Garden/outdoor maintenance Garden/outdoor projects Health and fitness Homemaking – regular/frequent tasks Homemaking – seasonal/occasional tasks Planning Relaxation Socialising and entertaining Travel
Of course, some of these definitely overlap and some activities may even cover 3 categories. The list is in alphabetical order so that no-one can question my priorities. I do not envisage making specific lists but it certainly helps to keep things in perspective.
Finally, to those people who were convinced that I would not have enough to do in retirement – you were definitely wrong. My days are occupied, interesting and most of all, fulfilling.
The current television series, ‘Fight for Planet A’, has opened some vigorous debate in some forums. Some people believe that promoting the use of renewable sources of energy is reckless as this is simply perpetuating the problem that is the ‘growth economy’. Unless we actually participate in degrowth the planet is doomed.
I am not totally of this mind, however, I do believe that much of our future depends on a serious change of mindset and questioning what stuff we actually need.
A really good place to start is to think twice about replacing broken or damaged items. I want to give you an example which confronted me this morning.
We have a laundry hamper in our bedroom and one of the handles snapped when I picked it up to take it to the laundry this morning.
I decided to mend the handle and found some strong navy fabric in my collection. It happened to match nicely, however, I would have used any colour or pattern if required.
I applied a small strip of double-sided interfacing to the wrong side.
The job was a bit tricky with the handle still attached to the hamper. I basted the 2 ends of the handle together and then pressed the interfacing to the handles.
The remainder of the fabric was folded over and around the existing handle. Here it is pinned and ready to stitch.
I stitched all around the patched handle and reinforced the ends and this is the result.
My repair effort is far from perfect but it is functional. I even managed to put a twist in the handle, despite my best efforts not to. However, this does not detract from the usefulness of the handle.
There is no right or wrong way to approach a repair so this is simply an example of what can be done.
The repaired hamper will hopefully last for many more years.
This is degrowth in action. Do not buy things that you do not need. Think laterally and repair or reuse what you already have. If you are not able to do you own repairs, check out your local repair cafe or ask a friend, neighbour or relative. We all have skills and we need to support each other in whatever ways we can.
Some would say that these shorts are not worth mending. They are at least 25 years old and once upon a time they were 3/4 length travel pants. After much wearing the knees finally gave way and I cut them off into a fairly unflattering pair of shorts. They were only ever destined to be worn around the yard but they get a good workout fulfilling that role. An incredibly comfortable pair of shorts that are lightweight and perfect for our hot summers.
They have been patched several times but the most recent rips almost saw the end of them.
I decided to make an attempt on one more patch.
I selected a piece of strong cotton fabric which would generously cover the two large rips. I then cut a matching piece of double-sided iron-on interfacing and ironed it to the wrong side of the patch.
Remove the paper backing and place on the wrong side of the area to be patched. Make sure that the rips are closely aligned then press again to fuse the patch to the garment.
Use a wide zigzag stitch to stitch over the rip. You may need to do several runs to cover it. Finally, use a narrower zigzag stitch to finish the edges of the patch.
The outside and inside views when completed.
This is not invisible or even particularly neat so is really only suitable for clothes where looks are not important.
We spend a significant amount of time in the garden or painting and renovating so functional ‘old’ clothes are a must. It makes sense to extend the life of them as much as possible.
My shorts with multiple patches have survived to see another summer but that is a few months away yet. It is good to be prepared, though.
What does doing the washing mean to you? Grabbing an armful of used clothes and tossing them into the washing machine and then transferring them to the dryer? Or do you have a careful sorting and separating process?
I sort my washing into light and dark fabrics, check the pockets for errant coins, tissues or slips of paper and then turn the articles so that they are the right side out. They are then washed and hung on the clothesline under the verandah. When the clothes are dry I sort them into the items that need to be ironed and those that can be folded and put away immediately.
All of this process allows plenty of opportunity to examine items for any damage or wear and tear which requires repair. The old adage, ‘a stitch in time saves nine’ is very true.
This week I found a small hole and run in the front of one of GMan’s merino thermal tops.
My darning skills are somewhat limited but I do have a rudimentary understanding of what is required. Since this is an undergarment, a perfect result is not essential. I found some similar coloured tapestry wool and split it to extract a single strand to use.
The end result is functional if not particularly pretty.
Regardless of the type of garment, it is worth checking clothes regularly to ensure that they are maintained which will prolong the life of the garment. Things to look for include loose buttons, hems coming down, breakage of side seams near pockets or armholes.
I have seen the following text and similar being shared in various posts on Facebook over a number of weeks.
Two can play that game China
Threaten our economy
All products from China will be left on the shelf !
Who’s With Me
However, there never seems to be any commentary from the person sharing the post as to how they actually propose to achieve this goal of not buying products that are made in China.
I believe that wherever possible we should be buying food produced in Australia. Fresh and unprocessed food are generally the best nutritional option. Additionally, packaged food may be produced in Australia but presented in packaging from China or elsewhere. It is highly unlikely that you would be able identify where the packaging was sourced.
Food is not the only thing that most of us buy. There are clothes, shoes, homewares and hardware supplies. When was the last time that you checked where your purchase was manufactured? Does it matter?
In my opinion, it is more important to be a conscious consumer generally rather than targeting goods from one particular country. Buy only what you need (not want), understand what is ‘enough’, care for and repair what you have and source pre-loved items where possible as ways of stepping away from over-consumption.
Over-consumption means that we are drowning in ‘stuff’ that is cheaply mass-produced in countries such as, but not exclusively, China. Become a conscious consumer and you will immediately significantly reduce the products you are buying from China.
The topic of tonight’s post is relatively minor and almost insignificant. On many occasions I would not have even considered it as a potential blog post.
However, it has recently occurred to me that a lot of what I do and take entirely for granted are activities or skills that would be completely unknown to many people. Therefore, this year I am going to make a concerted effort to post about some of the little things that fall under the broad category of life skills.
I made a sampler of different sewing stitches when I was 8 years old. It was a laborious task undertaken in school sewing lessons in Year 3. The sampler is framed and hangs in my sewing room these days. There are 6 different stitches, one of which is blanket stitch.
I don’t think I have ever used blanket stitch in over 50 years since that sampler was completed.
Nevertheless, when I noticed the stitching at the end of a blanket coming unravelled today, I immediately knew that I would mend it using blanket stitch. It was a bit like riding a bike – you never forget.
The blanket is one of a pair that we have owned for 40 years so I guess it is not too bad that it needed some running repairs. I simply threaded a large needle with the unravelled thread and restitched the edge with blanket stitch exactly as I had done on the sampler.
The left hand side of the photo is the existing machined ‘blanket stitch’ and the right hand end is my repairs.
The lavender flowers are not the only purple in my life. Today I was ironing one of GMan’s shirts which happens to be purple.
This shirt is one of his favourites and the cuffs had worn out some time ago so I cut the sleeves off to turn it into a short sleeve shirt which continues to be worn, albeit, not as frequently as when it was a long-sleeved business shirt.
I was ironing it today and I caught the tip of the iron against the edge of the back yoke seam whereupon the stitching gave way across about 2/3 of the back. After my initial shock, I examined it closely and realised that the cotton thread had simply worn out.
The fabric is faded and I know it will not last forever but I have restitched it and there is quite a bit more wear in it yet.
It makes good environmental and economic sense to repair items and retain them for as long as possible so I am very pleased to have been able to extend the life of this shirt.