Autumn is for Mending

Spring cleaning is about clearing out stagnant energy. Fall cleaning is about carefully picking through the contents of your life to find what to keep and what to pitch. It is for opening your closet doors and laying all your clothes on the bed, for pulling out your fall and winter gear and inspecting it. Those gloves and scarves and coats you carelessly packed away six months before get an airing out. You wash those that need it. You pair up gloves, toss those what are missing partners, or, as I do with my son’s gloves, pair them up with another lonely one to make a mismatched set.

This is the process I’m going through now. I am trying to bring order to a house I never properly set up. Our move-in was hasty and chaotic, and the last year didn’t afford me much time to purposefully arrange things. This fall, however, has brought me the time and energy to tackle such housekeeping details.

Ripped Skirts
5+ years old, these skirts have seen better days.

I’ve started with my clothes. By virtue of my life spent mostly in my home, my daily wardrobe consists mainly of pj pants and T-shirts. Those times I have to venture into the outside world, I will exchange the pants for one of my skirts. This has been my daily uniform for the past five years, and my clothes are beginning to show it.

Handful of scraps
I’m really just happy to be able to use up some scraps, to be honest.

I began with the shirts. All the T-shirts riddled with holes went under the pinking shears. In thirty minutes I had reduced them to rags for cleaning. They replaced the previous rags that had come to the end of their useful life.

Mending Skirts
There are so many holes, I just pinned scrap fabric to where they were.

This last week I moved on to my skirts. Currently I have four every day skirts, one “fancy”, and two that haven’t made it into rotation yet. All of them are handmade. One skirt went into the bin, so torn up and run down it wasn’t even fit for rag duty. The other three are threadbare and torn at the seams. If I toss them now, I’ll be short of outside wear, though, so I’ve decided to mend them enough to get through the next month while I make new skirts.

Fancy Patching
This is what it looks like when I take my time to patch my skirts.

I’ve patched these skirts before. Those times I was careful with my fabric choice and my stitching. This time, knowing that I just need to keep my underwear from showing, I set to the task by first grabbing a handful of scraps. The result is haphazard, but serviceable. And that’s all that’s warranted. Once I’ve made up new skirts, these will be retired. I’m considering remaking them into a throw, something cozy for the winter nights ahead.

Less Fancy Patching
My patch jobs this time were less careful and more quick and dirty.

This upcoming week the target of my fall cleaning will be the pj pants. Several need some light mending and I’ll probably make a couple of new pairs, as well as retire a couple that are as ratty as the skirts. Then I will move on to the winter clothes: sweaters, sweatshirts, long sleeved garments, as well as tights and leggings. By the time December rolls around I should be well sorted out to survive the winter.

Sewing Birds & Thimble Cats

It started with a pair of scissors.

While browsing Pinterest late at night (as one does) I stumbled upon a pair of scissors in the shape of a witch. They checked all the boxes of my relevant interests: a sewing tool that incorporated magick. The fact that the scissors were made to commemorate the Salem Witch trials just underscored the appeal.

I’ve seen at least one pair of these on Etsy and I have a mighty need.

I have a lot of scissors: Several pairs for fabric, pairs for paper, one pair solely for duct tape, not to mention the rotary cutters, pinking shears and embroidery snips. They are all practical, mass produced pieces that have served me for years. The fanciest (i.e. most expensive) pairs I have are the Ginghers with their colorful handles. They’re pretty, but they’re no stork handled clippers.

Imagine using these scissors in fertility magickal sewing.

The witch scissors kicked off a Pinterest spiral. I spent more time than I care to admit looking at scissors in a variety of shapes. I kept thinking about the ways they could be used to imbue sewing with magick. There is a running joke / rule among crafters that there are “special” scissors non-crafters are banned from using. It doesn’t take a great leap to come to the conclusion that the witchy sewist could use a pair just for magick.

I cannot stress this enough.

And as is usual with Pinterest sprees, I got caught up in topic drift, finding other unusual sewing tools. There were pin cushions and thimbles, sewing caddies and tape measures. Several of these items aren’t really used any more. Button hole cutting knives are specialized tools that look really handy, but with the decline of hand sewing, they’ve become a specialty tool. I had never heard of them before now, and when I went searching to see if they were still sold today, what I found was something that is a chisel set. It’s utilitarian, to be sure, but it just doesn’t have the same romance as the original cutters.

Which looks more impressive? “Granny’s Little Shank” on the left, or the chisel on the right?

On the more whimsical side of things sit the thimble holders. Cats stand at attention offering a thimble for when you need it. Acorns hang from chatelaines. Birds perch next to eggs that open to reveal not a hatchling but a thimble. At a time when everyone sewed by hand, it makes sense that every sewist would want to keep their thimbles safe and at hand.

These tools weren’t all about providing some charm to what could otherwise be a monotonous task. The sewing bird was a useful tool that acted like a “third hand” for sewing. It is a tool that has gone “extinct” thanks to the advent of sewing machines. I have to wonder what other sewing implements were necessities in years gone by that would be mysterious curios to today’s sewists.

All these little items, useful and necessary and common, were made with not only their function in mind, but with an eye towards making work a little less dreary. It’s a hard concept to wrap one’s head around when sewing now is a hobby to most people. I think, though, that there’s a place for just this kind of fantasy even today. I look at the thimble holders and I want one, even though I don’t have a thimble. I’ve already forged a working relationship with my Fiskars and I have no need for a sewing bird, and yet I like the idea of having one perched on my sewing table. I long for a tape measure shaped like a turtle.

Should you also have a desire to indulge your inner Clotho, Lachesis or Atropos, head on over to my Pinterest Board to check out the plethora of items I’ve pinned there.

Header image by Thomas Hendele from Pixabay