DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
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13 April 2016

Warm complexity

You can save quite a bit of money if you learn how to do some basic sewing. Sewing on buttons, mending a torn sleeve, taking up a hem, replacing a zipper and turning a collar are all skills that can be learned and put into practise when needed. By doing these minor repairs you'll be able to keep family clothing in service longer.

My favourite summer nightgown started fraying on the yoke a little while ago. There was a time when I would have seen that as a signal to go out and buy another one but I'm wiser now, I mended it and saved myself some money. I used a piece from an old cotton tablecloth that I'd used for other repairs.


This is the easiest kind of common sense sewing.  I just cut out the yoke and used it as a template to cut out the replacement fabric. I made it a double thickness so I could pin the bottom of the nightgown in between the two layers, tidied up the fabric where the new seam would be, pinned  and  sewed it together on the sewing machine. 

I had to make sure I had both sides of the new yoke sewn securely in place. I did that by pinning it together before I started sewing.


I guess it took about 30 minutes to complete this task; it would have taken me longer to drive to the shop. Saving money was the bonus and now I have my favourite nightgown to wear for another couple of years.



 The recipe for this is in The Simple Home.

Another thing that took a small amount of my time was making elderberry tonic for Hanno. He picked up a nasty virus while we were away and even after three courses of antibiotics he couldn't shake it.  Two weeks of tonic and a fourth course of antibiotics has it almost under control. We've been harvesting elderberries from the tree in the backyard over the past few months and freezing them. I still have three bags of berries in the freezer so I'll make a few more batches of this tonic as we go into winter.



I also harvested all the chillies and will dry and crush them to use as chilli flakes in my cooking. This particular variety is too hot for us to eat as they are. Even Sunny has problems with them and she loves hot chilli. As chilli flakes I'll still be able to use them and they won't go to waste.

It was a month late but we got started on the new season vegetable garden this week. We have more planting to do this coming weekend, when I'll take some photos to show you what's happening out there. It's always an exciting time for us getting the year's garden underway. Soon we'll be harvesting to our heart's content.

It feels good to have the time to do these domestic odds and ends again. Pottering around the house and garden during the day, working on small tasks, keeping our little homestead going and being satisfied by the work rewards me with a rare kind of joy. It may not be rocket science but there is a warm complexity that swirls around each day. I don't pretend to understand it. I just know that life is enriched by working in my home and that warm complexity and a slow, simple, quiet life go hand in hand. And that's enough for me to know.

This is my latest monthly talk on ABC radio with David Curnow. This was broadcast over Queensland last night. Have a lovely day, my friends. ♥︎


29 comments:

  1. I love your night gown repair. I have done that. I also will take something apart that I like and remake it in new fabric. I got a vintage sheet at the Salvation Army thrift store a few months ago. I plan to make a summer gown of it. I have a gown, very much like yours that I love. I took it apart to make another gown years ago. It has served me well as a pattern. This 'new' gown with have cost me 50 cents. There is enough fabric in the sheet to make 2 gowns if I do not make them really wide. More straight/shift type. Still very nice and comfortable.

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  2. HI Rhonda,

    I too had a phase years ago where if something was torn etc...I'd think that's it, I need a new one. I'm surprised at myself as my mother was extraordinary at mending everything and making things last longer. But I think the fact that everything became so cheap just sent common sense out the window!

    I'm back to taking great pleasure in mending things and making them last a bit longer. As I'm now much more careful to only buy what I really love and make sure it's good quality, there is extra incentive to keep it going as long as I can. And the rising cost of living is certainly making me much more careful about looking after what I have and not wasting money.

    Madeleine.x

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  3. Good for you for fixing your nightie! My experience is that I go out to buy a replacement of something I love and cannot find anything as nice. Also, it is hard to find nice cotton garments.

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  4. Simple complexities-thats a great way to say what I've been thinking over the last few months. I retired (early at 62) and my life has gained a wonderful simplicity and calm. Thanks for the words and sharing!
    Rita

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  5. "Warm complexity" - yes, that's beautiful <3

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  6. Listened to the ABC broadcast last night. Enjoyed it very much. cheers Maureen

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  7. Rhonda, I can't wait for my bush to produce enough elderberries to make some tonic. I did see a few a couple of months ago. We also have some really hot chillies growing. That's a good idea to dry and crush them. They are too hot for me to eat. I hope Hanno is on the mend at long last.

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  8. I too keep old clothes and bedding to use for darning and making. It accounts for a large part of my fabric stash but it is so useful, isn't it. I used a t shirt of my husbands to make a small bag to hold a game in it, in fact nearly the whole present was made from bits and pieces that were 'leftovers' or bits I had in my drawer. It is immensely satisfying isn't it.

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  9. I'm looking forward to having elderberries to make tonic etc, it might be a while though, the tree I planted in September died due to an extremely hot summer & shortage of water & I have just planted another one.

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  10. That tonic looks rich and luscious, I hope it continues to help Hanno.

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  11. I'm nearing the end of a work deadline (I'm a freelance editor and proofreader) and I'm looking forward to having the time to putter more, as you said. Lately I've just been tending to the most urgent things (kids, critters, and garden, in that order, with work fitting in any available time left) and doing the bare minimum to keep up elsewhere. The house needs a good (belated) spring clean and clear out first of all, and then I'll see what I get up to. :)

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  12. My mom mended and I find it quite stressful. Recently I been thinking about getting back to sewing. It been a while and I was surprise that fabric cotton that is around $10.00 a yard.
    But since my sewing machine had since the 1980's died. Looking and researching on buying a new one.

    Coffee is on

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  13. I too mend things...but truthfully it is not always cheaper to make something new these days with the high prices of fabrics...and worse than that, here at least in USA, there are few places and most carry what I consider substandard fabrics for the most part. To I will often go thrift shopping and if I cannot find just exactly what I want, will maybe buy something to make something else out of because the fabric is good quality. I always keep some fabs around however, as I do enjoy sewing. My favorite part is the hand hemming. Enjoy all you share on your blog!!
    ELizabeth in WA

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  14. Hi, Rhonda. I am just learning to sew "again" after many years where my sewing machine sat idle. I can only do very basic things but I am learning. For encouragement, I promised that this year I wouldn't buy any new clothes for myself (except underwear...no way am I up to sewing my own!) So far, so good! I've made a top for myself and the other day, I was looking at an dress I used to wear to work and thinking about how I could make the bottom into a skirt. I envy that you can just "cut" into things so confidently. I need to cut across the waistline of my dress and I'm still hesitating! Meg

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    1. Meg, it's good that you're sewing. There are plenty of tutorials about turning a dress into a skirt. Google it and choose the one that suits you best. Basically you cut above the waist and that forms the waist band. Good luck, love.

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  15. Loved listening to the broadcast recording.

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  16. Today I received your second book and I love it. I'm still making quilts and I'm sewing a lot. Now it's seeding time in France! I know it's your birthday this month because it's mine too. Congratulations Rhonda!!! In 2 years we will be 70!

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  17. Your chillies--- oh my goodness I grew the same variety as you Rhonda and then I made the Hot Sauce recipe and it was so HOT I put a label on the bottles that says " eat at your won peril!!" We don't even like hot food ourselves and I make the sauce to give it as gifts. I have had to be very careful who I offer it too and I forewarn them before they get a bottle. The dad of my eldest granddaughter can handle it and he says " just waiting for the sweats to come now!!" One thing is I won't be growing them again.

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  18. I have been mending a quilt I made quite a few years ago that began to wear in places. I thought " what would the pioneer woman have done" and I decided they would have patched their quilts as they began to wear so that is what is did. I made new patches and edged them and then hand sewed them over the top of the worn ones and it is good and strong and will last more years now. As each area gets a bit worn I will do the same thing. One thing is I made the quilt originally as a patchwork quilt so you can not hardly see the repairs that have been made to it

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  19. My husband is 6'5" and was frustrated with the short sheet on our bed so I used another old sheet and add extension to it. Now his feet stsy covered!

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  20. So right! I have clothes in my closet I have had for more than 15 years, and I follow the Project 333 method! I work full time, and have two outfits good enough for weddings and funerals, six outfits for work, and three outfits for garden and house work. But I think keeping high quality clothing in good repair makes way more sense then throw away clothing - I stay out of the shops unless I have a real need for something, and then I watch for deep discounts - 80% off is my favorite number!

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  21. Last week I had a sheet shred and it was interesting because it divided the household. It could have been made smaller but alas it was never going to fit the big beds again.

    Today was a happy day because on attempt number three I finally have "The Simple Home" in my possession. Yesterday I drove to Montville and Maleny and visited your beautiful corner of our world. I have some pickling onions to preserve, knitting and quilting are waiting for me. I have lamb shanks cooking and the world is more relaxed than last week.

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    1. Well that sounds like progress has been made. :- )

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  22. Rhonda, I think I have that variety of chillies in my garden. I learnt the hard way how hot they are by mistaking them for small capsicums.... I bit one in half!! My mouth was on fire and my lips went numb. Lesson learned. They are hot indeed.

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  23. Hi Rhonda,
    Just wanted to say how much I love the sound of your voice.
    Have a great weekend!

    Vicki
    Trinidad & Tobago

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  24. I absolutely adore that brand of night gowns! Definitely worth the investment and perfect to wear on hot summer nights.

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  25. I need to finally learn to sew! We have so many clothes to repair and a new sewing machine sitting in a box that I have not managed to touch. Thanks for showing what you did to fix the night gown. I think I will start with making a few bandanna bibs for my 7-month old. The elderberries look amazing by the way - I used elderberry lozenges this winter every time my throat hurt but would love to try the real deal.

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  26. What a lovely piece of mending, makes my heart glad! In my dreams I see myself doing the same, but in real life I have given up keeping the torn or broken clothing for repairs. Turned out that I never had the interest in mending the clothes and they caused me an inordinate amount of guilt, balefully eyeing me from their basket... BUT I have found a good seamstress who specializes in mending so I have started to keep the torn clothing again! Not sure if this is a good or bad thing yet.

    I've been reading your blog on and off for at least a year, probably more. Never commented before but now I just had to as you mentioned something I am really into - viruses and antibiotics! (as an explanation, I am a microbiologist so these things thrill me) What really caught my eye was your news about Hanno's illness caused by virus. Antibiotics do not kill viruses, they are only good for bacteria-caused illnesses (like having sreptococci in the throat, you know, the white dots and horribly sore throat) so no wonder they did not help. Usually the body is able to overcome viral infection by itself. In case of, for example, the ordinary flu (not the influenza which is more serious), the only things that really work are those that help alleviating the symptoms. Making sure that the body has enough ingredients and energy to make virus-killers is a good idea, so good (as in "tasty" to make sure that the ill one will eat up at least something) healthy nutrient-rich food is paramount, as well as resting. My granny always told me to wrap my throat in a warm red scarf if I had a sore throat, funnily enough it has turned out that keeping the throat warm slightly increases the temperature inside, which makes is more difficult for the viruses to replicate - so it really helps a little bit (colour red is optional). Drinking warm fluids has the same effect because it warms up the throat and flushes the viruses off the pharynx. Viruses replicate most on the surface cells in the throat, so constantly flushing them off to be killed in the acids in the stomach keeps their amount low which in turn makes the recuperation quicker.

    Now that poor Hanno has had to take so many courses of antibiotics, it is quite likely that a significant portion of the good and useful bacteria in his gut have been killed too. Bad bacteria are nasty because they often can take higher doses of antimicrobials than the useful ones, so it is possible that the relative amount of bad bacteria has increased. It would be a good idea for him to eat plenty of food that contains useful bacteria to make up for the deficiency. Yoghurt is good, so is buttermilk, sauerkraut too, really any fermented food product (eeh.. well maybe not beer in large amounts...)

    Sorry for the long rant! It is just that the knee-jerk reaction of giving antibiotics to almost everything has started to backfire badly, the unnecessary antibiotic treatment increases the occurrence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria which has become a big problem within the last few years. Of course antibiotics are needed sometimes even with viral diseases, to keep down the bacteria taking advance of the immune system weakened by the viruses, but they should not be an automatic treatment and not the first try - at least if the illness is typically viral. OK I ended up lecturing again, sorry, all the best for Hanno and I hope he has overcome his illness and is back to normal by now. I have quite a lot to catch up in your blog so I am not quite up to date yet!

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    1. Thanks for your explanations. I instinctively wrap my neck in a warm cotton scarf whenever I have a cold.
      I didn't explain Hanno's illness well. It started with a viral infection and terrible cough and turned into bacterial pneumonia. The virus hit him when we were in Melbourne in March, the pneumonia was diagnosed when we came home in April and he still has the cough, so I can't say he's over it. At 75 I know it takes longer to recover from these things and so he's still on the honey and lemon tea and elderberry tonic. He has yoghurt every day and often home made sour cream, cultured butter and sauerkraut. The probiotic supply is constant. Thanks for taking an interest. It's always a good thing to get information from an interested expert.

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