When I was writing about buttons in the previous blog I was thinking about how the generations just before mine lived...the generations that went through the Depression and two World Wars and how much more careful they were with their belongings and resources. They had witnessed a time when certain items were impossible to get and many of the ones that were available were rationed. They were thrifty if not by choice by necessity.
It was the buttons that reminded me that when a piece of clothing was absolutely unwearable it was not tossed away but rather...the buttons removed and stored for later use, as was the zipper if there was one. The fabric was either cut up for rags or if the fabric had life in it, it was made into something else. My Grandmother took my grandfather or father's old suits and cut and sewed them into little skirts and vests for my sister and I. She also took my father's Navy uniforms and made us each a little summer outfit with a sailor top and shorts. I'm not suggesting we do this....I couldn't if I wanted, she was a master seamstress, but it does give us something to consider as we do our best to Reduce-Reuse-Recycle.
A few Christmases ago I got one of my sister's names in our gift swap. She's whiz in the kitchen and quite sentimental. I had somehow ended up with several tablecloths that had been handed down through the family. Most of them had rips or stains but one of the classic red checks had enough useable fabric for me to make an adorable apron for her. It turned out wonderfully and she was happy to have a piece of our family's history.
Those vintage tablecloths and kitchen towels that aren't in good enough condition to actually use for the purpose they were intended.... REPURPOSE them and turn them into pillows, napkins, kitchen curtains and kids aprons. They can be cut up and turned into patchwork tablecloths or quilts. And for old quilts that are not salvageable make pillows or stuffed animals out of them. It's a wonderful way to pass along a well-loved piece of family history to the next generation. My other sister did not make these herself but she took a gorgeous old quilt, which had been nearly loved to death by all the kids in the family, to a seamstress and she made two adorable teddy bears for our nieces.
And as we are at that time of year you may want to take useable fabric and make Christmas stockings. I have made them out of old quilts and beautiful fabric from skirts I have found at thrift stores. You could also make them out of sweaters and linens. One of my favorites was made from pieces of an old crazy quilt, velvet from a skirt and lace from a stained vintage hand towel. Imagine for a male, a vintage sweater with a cool design that is not wearable, cut up and sewn into a stocking. Whatever strikes your fancy and has the beauty and nostalgia you're looking for will produce a Christmas stocking that in it's uniqueness will suit the recipient perfectly and be so much more lovely than the overdone, predictable ones that are certainly more expensive than the home-made versions.
I haven't tried this yet but I have seen Native American blankets that are too worn to display cut up and made into pillows. In addition, old sweaters that are out of style but still useable make wonderful soft pillows. Both are great ways to give a beloved piece a new life.
It's good to remind ourselves that many things in our disposable life still have life left in them and it's fun, if not a duty to try our best to lengthen the life of items rather than add them to the garbage heap.
Not to put too sharp a point on the 3 R's but I recall my grandparents saving their paper napkins if they weren't too soiled, clipping them with a clothespin with their name on it and re-using the napkin until it was "doggone good and ready to be thrown away"! Now that's re-using!
Please send me your ideas...I would love to know what others are doing to make a difference in our world. Check out this Blog from one of the Entrpreguerls...the Fru-Gal.