Small, useful sewing projects have been my favourites lately.
For example, I converted two pairs of old pyjamas into some cloths that we use for cleaning baby hands and face after a meal. They are very raggy because I left the edges un-hemmed. These cloths are square and each is two layers of flannel sewn together around the edge, since in practice we have found that a double layer is easier to use and launder: it likes to pop out flat, instead of crumpling into a hard wad. I even used the leftover strips of the fabric, pieced together as you see.
Shortly after my resolve to shop more carefully, I was looking at my set of scorched oven mitts, which I have considered replacing a few times. They had a burn hole that was both ugly and rendered part of them no longer heatproof. So I decided to patch them. I covered both holes with a simple patch, and reinforced the burned-away filling with some shredded scraps of fabric beneath the patch. Homely, but otherwise working as good as new.
Speaking of patching, I did something I would never have suspected. I patched a pillowcase. I had just been reading my old sewing book about patching, and laughing to myself about who, these days, would ever patch a tablecloth or sheet. If it’s worn through, then it’s too worn to be worth the time to patch, right? Mere days later, two mysterious gashes showed up on one of our pillowcases. Since the bedding set is otherwise in good condition and we still love it, I decided patching was the way forward. I used that old sewing book – the one I laughed at – for instructions on how. Each gash was hand-sewn, much like a buttonhole, with stitches which join the edges and simultaneously cover the raw ends. Then I used my machine to stitch patches behind the tears to reinforce the area. It’s visible, but viewed from a distance with its normal wrinkles and shadows, barely noticeable.
Finally, I hesitate to mention this, but I have been sewing cloth menstrual pads. I saved this till last because I figure only my most dedicated readers will make it this far, and hopefully will all still be my friends after reading this…. Why do I hesitate? Only a sense of awkwardness, I guess. Truth be told, I love cloth pads, and they are one zero waste swap that, far from being a sacrifice, is undoubtedly an upgrade. (In fact, switching to them predates most of my other zero waste changes.) Cloth is superior in function, comfort, and price. If you know me in person, ask me about it and I’ll wax poetic if you want to listen; otherwise, just believe me that I have spent many happy nights with my sewing machine making these from leftover fabrics.