23 September 2007

Sewing and mending

I moved into my new sewing room yesterday. I haven't got everything exactly as I want it yet, I'm using pieces of furniture I'd rather not use, but I'm in there. The room used to be Hanno's office, it's where he did all his after hours work for the shop, and even now he has a cupboard in there, and drawers, as well as space on the desk. In Australia we have to keep business and tax records for seven years, so all that is being stored in "the sewing room". I'm pretending it's not there. : )

The room overlooks the front garden and there is a radio, so I expect to be quite comfy as I work on my mending and sewing. I'd like to eventually replace the melamine furniture with old wooden pieces and I have a friend, who is like a hawk collecting old bits and pieces, on the lookout for me. I'd like two old tables, a cupboard and a chest of drawers. But in the meantime I'm happy to work with what I've got and I'm thankful that I have this room as a workspace.

In the past few years I've discovered the "stash". I know those who patchwork and sew will smile at my innocence. Who knew there would be such beauty in all those pieces of fabric.

Early on in my search for a simpler life I realised that sewing, mending, knitting and homemade gifts would play a big part in what I did. I'd never been interested in crafts before, although my mother did try to teach me and my sister is a talented quilter. I toddled off on my own path, convinced they were old fashioned and would eventually catch up with me one day. LOL Oh the shame. I think my mother would love to see me know. I'm living like she used to, and what a fine roll model she is for me, even though she's been dead 14 years. I still remember how it used to be in our pre-plastic days and the skills my mother taught me all those years ago are finally being used. I am a slow learner sometimes.

I am trying to improve my sewing and knitting, I think they are skills that develop with repetition. Often when my sister visits, I get her to teach me how to do something I haven't been able to manage on my own and slowly I'm becoming more confident and happier with my finished work. Suzanne, who runs the sewing circle where I work, is going to teach me how to darn. I have a couple of jumpers that have small holes in them and they will have many more years of service when I fix those holes. Darning was the way women used to mend socks, jumpers and precious hand made clothes. Most women knew how to darn and mend but along with a lot of other useful activities, it's no longer common. In the past, women made do with what they had and it was seen as wasteful to throw something away simply because it had a hole in it. We need to get back into that mending mindset because the true cost of "cheap" clothes is damaging our environment.

One of the handicrafts I've discovered is stitchery, or as my grandma would call it, fancywork. I love drawing patterns and stitching them to see what they look like. They make wonderful gifts as they can be tailored to suit the person who will receive it and although they look complicated, they're quite simple and straight forward to make. Pictured above are two works in progress that will be given as Christmas gifts this year.

I have big plans for my little sewing room. I hope it will be a place of homely creativity, where clothes are given a second life, where my sewing talents develop, where fabric and stitch combine to produce beautiful gifts and where all aspects my simple life will continue to emerge and sustain us.

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