Friday, November 21, 2014

Make Do And Mend

Visiting local thrift shops, I sometimes feel a bit sad.  A kind of emptiness that comes from over abundance settles within me. Seeing so many donated items - clothing and household goods - makes me wonder if we simply have too much stuff. Or perhaps we've forgotten how to make do and mend.  I try to curb my cravings for the new and improved versions of every thing, but my success is limited. I wander the aisles searching for treasures that might be restored or used again in some way. Once in awhile, I get lucky.

I spied a stack of simple and small gift boxes. Yellow with age. Stained by remnants of adhesive tape. Held together tenuously. Curious, I opened the first box - lots of T-pins. The second box held sewing notions - snaps, eyelets, seam binding, and thread used to repair nylons. The third box overflowed with wooden spools of thread.

 


The final box, number four, contained cotton twine carefully wound into balls and 8 crocheted doilies, like perfect little flowers.




These little boxes, a sewing basket of sorts, held the makings for creating and repairing. Wistfully, I handled my finds, feeling with my fingers the stories of a woman who mends.

My hands work in much the same way. I make quilts, beautiful and functional. And when need be, I repair a ripped seam, hem a pair of pants, or sew on a button.


And there's much to be said for the effort. Make do and mend.

Curious about the origin of the phrase, I did a little research.

Make Do and Mend was a pamphlet issued by the British Ministry of Information in the midst of WWII. It was intended to provide housewives with useful tips on how to be both frugal and stylish in times of harsh rationing. With its thrifty design ideas and advice on reusing old clothing, the pamphlet was an indispensable guide for households. Readers were advised to create pretty ‘decorative patches’ to cover holes in warn garments; unpick old jumpers to re-knit chic alternatives; turn men’s clothes into women’s; as well as darn, alter and protect against the ‘moth menace’.


I'm linking up with Kim Klassen and my Friday Find is a renewed appreciation for the joy of making do.

31 comments:

  1. These photos draw me in. I just love your photography and the stories your photos tell.

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  2. You sure did find some wonderful props and also props that are useful, the best kind. So wonderful the one of you and your hands mending. I come from a Mom who was so much into mending as that was her time during the depression. So much good came out of the depression era and we have lost that for sure. A nation of pure delight in getting it new and throwing it away. Wonderful thoughtful post as usual.

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  3. Oh my, I pored over each and every photo several times, and while they are all amazing, my eye kept being drawn back to the third one. The spools in the window ... it's absolutely stunning and so full of nostalgia and stories. Just a magnificent post and wonderful words.

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    1. Hi Barb, Thanks so much for stopping by. I've had your latest post on busyness on my mind a lot lately. As much as I love taking pictures and blogging, I do feel I've let my life swing a little out of balance - with making more work for myself than is needed. As we approach the holidays, I'm re-thinking a bit and making some adjustments. Your blog post helped me to ask myself some valuable questions. Also, I love your new banner picture!

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  4. The image of your hands doing the mending is priceless (i must get a remote for my camera). This post has my mind going through my mind's eye seeing my mom sew for hours. Women in my family were all very creative with their hands. One aunt had the most beautiful braided rugs (very large) in her home and when I inquired how she made them, they were make from men's wool dark suits she had cut into strip and braided, then hand sewed every row. Repurposing is something I enjoy as well, especially fabrics and buttons. Those wooden thread spools are a real treasure, and I adore the image of them lined up on the window sill! Thank you for sharing a special find this week Donna!

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    1. Beverly, I'm familiar with the rag rugs you refer to. I have a cousin who makes them, too. So much work, but a labor of love. Happy Thanksgiving you and your family!

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  5. What a charming post, Donna. I love your photos: the limited palate of colours creates such a timeless quality. Your shots are really pretty. There was a lot of going-without and making-do over here during WWII and right through until the early 70's. My parents were War Babies, and the experience has shaped the outlook of their entire generation. Curiously this hasn't meant that they have less clutter in their house than the rest of us. No, because they never throw anything out that still has a squeak of life left in it their place is jam-packed full of stuff! All the best for a lovely weekend, Bonny

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  6. Donna, your pictures are true works of art; masterpieces. I absolutely love them all, my favorite; I can't say because they are all so beautiful. The image of the spools on the window sill and the last picture look like oil paintings. In addition to that, the doilies are beautiful. I'm so glad there are people like you, who haven't lost touch in the art of needlework. I think that's wonderful!

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  7. What a delightful post, Donna! Those wooden thread spools and crocheted doilies are gorgeous! :)
    Thank you for sharing the origin of the phrase, too. I always enjoy learning new things.

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  8. The well used old spools of thread look like they have so many stories to tell. Your second image of the spools and the last one are my favorites, although they all are wonderful. The textures and tones take the well used spools back to their era. Beautiful. My mother loves cross stitching, not a necessity but still a work of her hands. With a new baby in the family she is excited to have more baby things to cross stitch. I don't stitch unless I have to, but putting buttons back on and stitching up seams does stretch out the life of some things. Have a great weekend!

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  9. Great post! I LOVE the spools on the window sill! Outstanding!

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  10. Beautiful photos as always Donna, I love them all, the tones are lovely. Your words and the image of the little doilies made me very emotional actually....I wondered about the woman who had created those beautiful pieces and thought how sad it was that all her treasures had ended up at the thrift shop ......
    On another note , I took photos a couple of days ago of an old cotton reel I found too, although I have yet to post them :)

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    1. Caz, I know what you mean. I felt kind of bittersweet about the whole experience. I can't wait to see your pictures of the cotton reel, and only wish we could work and play together taking these kinds of pictures. Your work and your words and your beautiful smile are always an encouragement to me.

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  11. we are a world of excess! I mend, as my grandmother taught me . . . not as much as I should, but I still do. What a lovely find for you!

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  12. your images made me squeal...literally...those spools of thread...the hands that have unwound the thread...to repair or mend...safely cradled in their cardboard box...now taken home by you...to continue their usefulness...whether to actually be used in sewing...or just exist as beautiful props...and if I had been with you, I would have snatched those boxes first!

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  13. What a beautiful presentation of the old treasure. I had a similar find in the legacy of my great grandmother. I think in the next gray days I'll try some stills too. Thank you for the inspiration. LG Su

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  14. what an exciting find!! it's the sort of find we dream to fall upon but it rarely happens! I'm so glad that you could buy these old notions and use them as vintage props and even use the thread to sew your buttons and the doilies for another project maybe... I was lucky to find old sewing notions too on flea markets at times and when it happens I'm so excited looking at each spool, each ball of cotton.... trying to imagine the woman who owned these treasures, treasures for us because of their vintage style but just practical tools for the woman who had to work with them everyday... I love your series of pictures, all of them, bur still more the spools in a line on the window sill, great and wonderful art.... and the last one, I love the idea of using a silverware bowl for your rustic spools...

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  15. Very wonderful post and elegant photography ~ I agree ~ I am working on 'simplifying' and making do with what I have ~ taking a bit of time ~

    Happy Weekend to you,
    artmusedog and carol
    www.acreativeharbor.com

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  16. Lucky you. Open a box (I. Magnin!) and find those snowflake doilies and wonderful wooden spools. I love the ones that look like they'd been wound by hand. Imagine taking the time to do that. You have a gift photographing notions. That blue crochet thread looks just gorgeous against the linen. It's an unexpected winter picture. Best of all, I loved hearing how you took those photos. Spools of thread have never looked so good!

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  17. Love those wooden spools. I have a few of my grandmother's from her sewing and notions basket. I wish I had more. Your shots are superb. Love the history on the phrase. So interesting. I always put off sewing on buttons even though it really doesn't take that long. Glen had one shirt that seemed to lose a button every time I washed it. I think I have finally sewed them all back on and they have stayed on so far.

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  18. Your images are simply beautiful. Every. Single. Doggone. One. Of. Them.

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  19. Your words brought back so many memories of my grandmother sitting in her chair next to the window with her box of thread and needles close by as she hand quilted and did her weekly mending….Sweet memories indeed….
    Each one of your shots is just gorgeous. I really enjoyed visiting with you today….

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  20. Be still my heart....I love those old spools of thread! What an amazing find and photographed so lovely!

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  21. What an amazing find! The captures of the cotton twine balls are my favorite especially with the curly piece unravelling. So special!

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  22. I have to raise my hand up on your question do we have too much stuff. I do. And I collect everyone's old stuff. All in the name of art : ) A wonderful Friday Find! Such a beautiful post - and I agree with many, the spools on the window are just stunning! How many photos do you take of each object to get that one that you love?

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  23. What treasures you found and what beautiful images you created! I love old wooden spools of thread. And yes, count me as one of those who simply has too much stuff. But just yesterday I was hunting through antique stores for more stuff....

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  24. What great finds you presented today...oh my, even for a person that doesn't sew...well, I can do a button, but I love all the photo's and the lace and the spools...your tones are perfect for this collection and I hear in your words how excited you were to receive this find...
    Great job and I'm sure we will see more art from these props...

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  25. A great post with gorgeous photos !
    Such great finds ... those wooden spools are wonderful, I have a small collection myself ...
    I love your new profile photo ... you look great, Donna !
    Have a nice evening,
    Sylvia

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  26. Oh what a glorious find! I just love old twine and cotton strings.

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  27. What a treasure box! I have some bits of this 'stuff ' and it speaks to me of my mother and grandmothers. Your still life photos are beautiful!

    xoxo

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  28. You have keen eyes for details! Lovely shots as always.

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