Spend less, Mend more

One way to slow the pace of fast fashion is to mend more. Adding patches, mending zips, sewing buttons back on and stitching tears all prolong the life of an item of clothing, and stem the tide of buying more. It also takes little time, saves money and is much easier to do than you might think (but if you’d rather not do it yourself, it’s also easy to find tailors/ drycleaners who provide mending services).

In the process of packing my bags for Glasgow and preparing for the course, I’m making sure all my clothes are in good shape, and getting a bit of sewing practice in too.

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holey pocket: before

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holey pocket: after

I learnt most of my mending tips and tricks from my granny’s little pink ‘Make Do and Mend’ pamphlet, which contains specific instructions on different types of fabric and wear, with very helpful illustrations. I’ll blog some more information and images when I’ve remembered which box it’s packed in.

In the meantime, here are a few half-decent instructions I found online.

How to sew on a button – Instructables

Fix a zip – Wikihow

How to patch a hole – Martha Stuart

Deathshead Buttons

Talking of buttons.. these are the ultimate for me. Handmade true-to 18th century buttons with the best button name in the world.

Please take a look at the rest of Hannah’s blog – it shows all the other incredible things she does on her Costume Interpretation course, like recreating 1860s underwear and a 1770s French Sack Back (made with handprinted fabric).

Hannah Sutherland

My third and final uni project is a 1770s Sack Back with compere front. Like many 18th century buttons, the ones featured are known as “Deathshead” (or deaths head). These are created by winding lengths of thread/silk/yarn around a button mould. Today i got far too into trying to conquer the art, so i didn’t stop to take progress photos. I have 12 to make in total, so plenty of time for that. I’ll try and do it step-by-step as i found it really confusing trying to follow the written instructions i had initially. Thank God for YouTube!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=deRMQ0I16TA

So these are the buttons i need to recreate…

 

and with a little help from the wonderful people at WM Booth, Draper. (http://www.wmboothdraper.com/)I managed to create these..

 

 

It took me about 1 1/2 hours to go from knowing nothing to making these 3, so it wasn’t too…

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The Button Queen

Yesterday I paid a visit to the Button Queen – a unique little shop on Marylebone Lane near Oxford Circus that’s dedicated solely to selling buttons. The owner told me that his parents had started the business, his mum being the original ‘Button Queen’ when she sold them on Portabello Road market. There’s a video on the website with more about the shop’s history.

I picked out some simple little ones for the shirtwaister, whilst ogling some in faux-marble and stone. Now for thinking up a garment to go with them.

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On the way back to Euston I passed half a dozen magnolia trees bursting into flower, until this one forced me to stop and get the camera out.button6button7

Wool House III + Tom of Holland

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My last few pictures from Wool House (sigh!).

More sheep, some wool couture and a darning session with the very delightful and diligent Tom of Holland. Holey socks, darning thread and mushrooms at the ready, he showed a flock of wool enthusiasts the power of darning. There was much lamentation and sympathy over the destructive capacity of clothes moths, but not enough to dampen spirits, darn it!

Inspired, I’m determined to a) fill my wardrobe with sprigs of lavender against the winged wool nemeses and b) scour local charity shops for a darning mushroom of my own.

wool12wool13wool14wool16Goodbye Wool House! Until next time…(there will be a next time yes?)wool11wool17

Nålebinding Tutorial

After a slow start, I’ve finally got round to finishing my first attempt at nålebinding – by making a möbius strip (a mathematical object which is a surface with only one side and one edge). Here’s a step-by-step tutorial. I’m left-handed and so is this tutorial, but I hope my instructions are clear enough for right-handers too.

Nålebinding Tutorial

Nålebinding is a technique used to make a knitted structure. Instead of using two needles to create rows of loops, the loops are sewn with a threaded needle – creating true stitches. Unlike two-needle knitting, nålebinding does not unravel, and the yarn must be continually rejoined because the entire working length must be pulled through each stitch (it doesn’t work with a ball of yarn!). It is thought to be much older than two-needle knitting, possible originating in Egypt. These Egyptian socks in the Victoria & Albert Museum date to around 250 to 420 AD.

Möbius strip bracelet

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Materials

  • A few grams of yarn, any type
  • A large blunt needle (a tapestry needle is ideal)

Casting on

Step 1

Cut a length of yarn about 1 metre long and thread the needle.

Make a loose knot with the yarn, leaving a short tail.

Step 2

Insert the needle into the loop of the knot, and underneath the working yarn.

Step 3

Pull the yarn through, until you have a loop about the same size as the first one.

Repeat steps 2 and 3 until you have a row of about evenly sized loops about the circumference of your wrist.

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Joining the loop

Step 4

To make your mobius strip, put a single twist in the row of loops, then join the loop by sewing a single stitch into the very first loop and pulling the yarn through. Alternatively you can make a straight tube by leaving out the twist.nal16

nal17The first round

Step 5

Start the first round by inserting the needle into the join of the first two loops of the cast-on row. Pull the yarn through to make a loop.nal18

Continue making a new round of stitches in this way, working in the opposite direction to the orientation of the needle.nal21

Rejoining the yarn

Once the yarn becomes too short to work with, knot a fresh length of yarn to the end and continue stitching.nal23

Continue working rounds of stitches until the band reaches the desired thickness. Sew in any tail ends to finish.nal24

Happy Nålebinding!

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Eivor Fisher’s ‘Swedish Embroidery’

In an earlier post I mentioned finding this beautiful book on Swedish embroidery, written by Eivor Fisher for an Anchor series in 1953. Here is a sneaky peek to show you how inspiring this book is. I loved reading about the traditional bridegroom shirts, made by their future wife to be worn on their wedding day, and “often not used again until needed as a shroud”.