Sunday, 20 December 2015

Mending…


 I am an admitted clothes hoarder. For the past couple of winters I've been resigned to the fact that the cranberry-coloured lambswool cardigan that I bought just before going to university has been wearing out at the cuffs. It wasn't an especially expensive cardigan, coming from Littlewoods (even the cheap end of the high street sold knitwear in natural fibres back in the early 1990s), but it's lasted 23 years so far. I've stitched up the loose edge of the cuffs in past autumns, but they are fraying rather more now. If it were more fitted, I'd shorten the sleeves for a 1940s look, but that struck me as a bad idea with this boxier shape. So the poor old cardigan was put on the pile for rag recycling.

Go go gadget hoarding instinct!

I couldn't send the cardigan away. 'Look at me,' it seemed to be calling, 'I've kept you warm all these winters and so much of me is good! Surely you can salvage me...'


It struck me that Liberty bias binding could be exactly what the cardigan needed. TheWeaversMill on Etsy was selling it fairly cheaply, so I ordered three different patterns so I could see which one worked best with the cardigan.  The patterns were (top to bottom) Wiltshire (1933, redesigned in 1968), Betsy Ann (a miniaturised version of a 1933 print) and Elysian (a 1920s pattern). I loved Elysian but didn't think it would go with enough of my other things, and decided in the end that I preferred the dark background of Wiltshire.

The mending job was simply a matter of placing the binding over the edge of the cuff and sewing it down neatly, leaving a small gap at the seam for stretch so my hands could fit through. Years ago I cut the original buttons off the cardi – shiny gold wasn't popular in the 1990s – so I'm thinking of getting some cover-yourself buttons and using what's left of the bias binding to make buttons to match the cuffs. It no longer really works with the pink and grey tartan skirt I used to pair it with, but that's okay: I plan to make something new to go with the skirt, and this cardigan will look great with some of my navy things, hopefully for a few more years yet.

I also repaired the lining in a favourite skirt, the ripped seam on my Heyday! bow blouse, and re-sewed the hem on a velour tunic which is one of the few remnants of my gothier days but is OH SO COMFORTABLE. I also darned a handknitted sock, though not very well - I'm rubbish at darning. The repairs took a while as they were all done by hand, so the Miss Fisher marathon on Alibi was most welcome.

That's not all the mending that needs doing in the House of Robots. A few weeks ago a shelf came away from the living room wall in the night. The bang woke me up, but I thought the kittens had trashed something in the dining room – they aren't allowed in the living room on their own in case they get up the chimney – and after checking that they were okay, concluded it had just been the sound of their romping around on the dining room floorboards and went back to sleep. The next morning I discovered that the shelf and all the books that had been on it had taken out a chunk of the stone fireplace and destroyed our wicker wastepaper basket and Mr Robot's paperwork boxes.

The paperwork boxes are easily replaced, the basket was actually a Christmas hamper sent to Mr Robot's workplace one year, and the fireplace was a horrid stained modern thing that was too big for the chimney breast and we'd always planned to replace anyway, so none of it was a big loss. It could have been terrible. If the kittens had been beneath the collapsing shelf, they'd have been killed. I was amazed and relieved that the China foo dogs, which my husband bought as a boy, and the Victorian vases we'd inherited from his mum, somehow survived unscathed. But now we need another fireplace. Ah well. We'll have fun looking for a reclaimed Victorian one. Maybe we'll get round to having the chimney repointed when we get everything done, and then we can have a real fire one day.
Before the shelf took off the left-hand corner...
Anyway, we're all ready for Christmas now. The gammon (we're having that rather than turkey) is ordered, I've made a stollen, and I'm going to come up with a special trifle recipe this year - I plan to make a cherry bakewell trifle. If it works, I'll stick the recipe up on Greedybots. All is well in the House of Robots, and I hope things are going pleasingly for you too.

19 comments :

  1. You've been a busy bee with all that mending! Mending is on my list for the next two weeks off work, I can't wait to get stuck in to an entire sack of things. Really great idea about the bias tape, thanks for the tip, and it looks lovely. Good choice. Oh dear about the fireplace but at least the kitties weren't involved. We don't know what we're having to eat on Christmas day but I have an emergency chicken in the freezer in case they sell out of whatever we decide. xx

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    1. The mending has been sitting around for weeks, that's why there was so much of it. It feels really good to have got round to doing it - it means I've ticked a job off my to-do list that's been on it for far too long, and those clothes are now wearable again.

      We're probably having a chicken on Boxing Day. We've got a nice recipe for portions baked with garlic, lemon and white wine which will make a tasty, but low-effort, meal.

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  2. Good idea on the bias binding! I love it when an old favourite lives to fight another day. We aren't having Christmas dinner at all this year, just a big, lazy, late breakfast and tea at Mum's house.Have a wonderful Christmas. x x

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    1. Lazy is good! We really enjoy cooking, so we go all out for Christmas (any excuse!) but if people want to do something else, they should be able to. Are you having something special for breakfast? We'd got into the habit of having Eggs Benedict with Pete's mum, but he doesn't fancy that this year.

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  3. From one hoarder lady to another that was a brilliant save. The bias binding was an inspired touch. It makes your cardigan look very posh vintage
    The covered buttons will be a lovely touch. That was scary about your shelf. Thank goodness the kitties and the china were safe. Cherry bakewell trifle sounds like heaven. Xx

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    1. Yeah, if there's one thing this year has taught me, it's that things are just things and living creatures/people matter more, so I'm mainly glad the cats were safe. But I would have been upset over those particular ornaments.

      I love a good trifle - usually I make an apricot one, but came up with a black forest one last year. I always make my own custard with eggs and double cream. It's probably the least healthy pudding on the planet, but soooo sumptuous.

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  4. I live in fear of collapsing bookshelves/cases.
    So you're not even the tiniest bit tempted to stick in one of those artificial glowing space heaters that look like a computer monitor with logs, huh? You have good taste, I'm sure whatever you replace it with will look lovely.

    *nods head* Bias tape...what a genius idea. That's such a great colour, I;d have a hard time parting with it too.

    I've just spotted your beautiful stollen in the sidebar under Greedybots, so I'm off to have a look. Save me a slice.

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    1. I think we'd overloaded that shelf - it was the top one, and had all the (large) photography books on it, plus there were more balanced on top. Factor in our shonky Victorian wall plaster and it was bound to happen, really.

      We want either a proper Victorian or good repro fireplace, preferably with tiles on, to match the house.

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  5. Blimey, that's a lot of mending, well done you! I love all three of the Liberty bias bindings you got, they're so cute, but definitely think you went with the right one. So glad you managed to save your beloved cardigan for another year!

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  6. Blimey! That could have been disastrous, the shelf falling, thank goodness it wasn't. I'm currently ignoring a bang in the attic. If I were in a crime novel, I'd get a ladder and never be seen again. Instead I'm waiting for him to come home and investigate. Top marks on the mending. Great idea for the cardi. I do love thrifty solutions! Xxx

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    1. I've seen too many crime dramas to investigate noises in the attic - though in our terrace, it's usually a sign that someone on the row hasn't been keeping on top of their anti-rat measures!

      I just couldnm't throw that cardi out, I'd had it too long.

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  7. Mim, dear...
    Nothing warms my heart more that knowing that I'm not the only one in the mending-world. There IS a relationship between us and our items, and there always was that one thing I don't like letting go of.. yet. Not yet, because "there's still life in it", right?
    I also mend clothes.. honestly, everything I now wear is mended.. even my office wear (that is what you get when you purchase a house and end up broke!) :)
    However, strange is it may seem, I get praised for always looking so "new" - since I get a lot of clothes for cheaps, I get to change a lot. :)

    ..
    I've got your card, it's absolutely lovely!!!
    M.

    P.S.
    I hope mine is on the way..

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    1. If stuff can go to the charity shop, I'll send it there, but that's usually stuff I don't like all that much... when I like something, I wear it and wear it and wear it until it's no good to anyone else. And then I mend it! Besides, there's a skill to mending.

      Yeah, when you shop secondhand, you can buy so much more (and usually better quality than a lot of modern clothes).

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  8. Scary stuff! Thank goodness no kittens (or robots) got squished. Great reason to buy yourselves a snazzy replacement. I can spend hours searching the "Architectural Antiques" section on eBay.
    Love the cardi rescue. That bias binding is the business.
    Xmas Day curry at the posh Indian for us with cheese and a You Tube disco for afters. xxx

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    1. I really love Liberty fabrics. And the binding has given the cardigan a completely new personality.

      Curry followed by cheese sounds like a heavenly meal. I'll probably cook a curry or two between Christmas and new year.

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  9. That looks fab! I just saved Andy's work Harrington this way, though not Liberty ;)

    So glad the kits are okay, how scary.

    Wishing you, Mr Robot and the kitbots a very merry Christmas xxx

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    1. The kitbots are having a noisy Christmas being scrounging little sods! They had scrambled egg for breakfast on Christmas day, they loved it.

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  10. That is such a clever, beautiful way to jazz up a cardigan (or sweater). I love that it's something that most non-sewers could tackle, too. Thank you for sharing this this stylish and completely clever idea with us, dear Mim.

    Big hugs & joyful Christmas season wishes!
    ♥ Jessica

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    1. It's dead easy. I can knit and embroider but am no good at practical sewing, and it still looks okay.

      I hope you're having a fab Christmas.

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