… and sewing too…

Although sowing (actual and metaphorical) is an important part of being sustainable, I think that sewing is too…

I was mulling this over yesterday as I repaired the curtain (drape for my US friends) that covers our front door. I say ‘repaired’ but perhaps ‘reassembled’ might be more accurate

If only this was all she did with the mail!

If you don’t have terriers, you may not be aware of their propensity to eat the mail as if comes through the front door (yes, we have letter slots in our doors here in the UK, not those box things on posts that seem to be the norm in the US). Maxwell does not participate in this activity, but Samantha makes up for his lack by being particularly exuberant. This means that if the curtain is open, the mail is grabbed and shredded if no one is around, or simply grabbed if someone it there to yell at her. If, however, the curtain is closed, she grabs the mail through the fabric. This means that the weight of a fairly hefty terrier is taken by the curtain on a regular basis. The result being that the curtain fabric had become progressively detached from the rufflette tape (that’s the stuff that you draw up to make gathers at the top of a curtain).

The curtain is made from a very heavy fabric, selected for its insulating properties and its ability to take the weight of a dog. The thread used to stitch the components together, however, turned out to be less robust. I bought the curtain from a company who sell fabric made only from natural fibres, so it was a surprise to discover that it had been stitched together using nylon thread. The problem with nylon is that it’s slippy, so once it starts to come apart it tends not to stop. But, with my trusty sewing machine (a 16th birthday present, so it’s lasted well) I was able to reattach the tape and lining to the curtain. Each seam now has three rows of stitches, so I think that it should stay in one piece for some time.

A skill like sewing is, in my opinion, greatly undervalued. Too often these days sewing seems to be considered either too old-fashioned to bother with or to be a frivolous hobby… fit only for creating fancy items. I was taught to sew by my mother, my grandmother and an old family friend, but we also had classes at school. These days, media studies and computing seem to be deemed more useful… shame. Wouldn’t it be great if all our kids grew up learning how to create and mend real, not just virtual, things? I learnt to make clothes as well as to do embroidery, needlepoint, darning… you name it.

The ability to repair an item like a curtain provides a way to save money, but is also a valuable addition to our sustainability toolbox… in the same way that Mr Snail-of-happiness can repair electrical items such as my radio. You will often hear exponents of things green talk about the three Rs: reduce, reuse and recycle, but I think that we should add a fourth: repair. And, in our house at least, this is what we are trying to do… sewing the seams of sustainability, perhaps!

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  1. Sewing is very useful. I wish they taught it here, but at least in my county they took home economics (including sewing, woodshop, and cooking) off the curriculum in between my sister and me, so I had to learn woodshop at summer camp and cooking on my own. Sewing by machine is my next goal – I can do it by hand but I can’t imagine sewing a whole curtain by hand! (Well, ok, I can imagine it, I just don’t want to DO it!)

    Your dog is adorable – perhaps you could sew a bag that attaches to the mail slot/door to capture the mail before it hits the floor? We have a mail slot (and we live in the US, and yes they are quite uncommon here despite how convenient they are) but only a cat, who is not interested in the mail unless she can sit on it, which so far hasn’t been a problem 🙂


    • Max quite likes sitting on the mail too, if Sam gives him a chance!
      A sewing machine is a great tool, I wouldn’t be without mine. You can get very fancy (and expensive) ones now, but mine is quite simple: forwards, backwards, zigzags and buttonholes are the only functions I need. In thirty years I’ve only had it serviced twice, so it’s been good value!


  2. Great post. I love your fourth “R”–repair…….if only we all followed this sage advice.


    • Thank you!
      What I particularly hate is things that are designed so that they can’t be repaired… or where it’s cheaper to buy a new one than get something repaired. I guess that’s how manufacturers make their money, but it shouldn’t be!



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