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Category: Thrifted

Make Do and Mend?

I have to admit, I love to repair things an it’s only recently that I have begun to wonder why.

Thrift plays a small part in this. As a family we have always repaired and upgraded our own computers until they reach an age where they’re just not usable for our purposes any more, and as a mum I find myself forever gluing my son’s toys back together! But more and more I find that this is only a small part of why I almost always head for a pot of glue before heading to the shops to buy a replacement.

Whenever I visit antique shops the things that grab my attention are not large, impressive vases with exquisite detailing or grand pieces of furniture. I’m always drawn to the handmade, the obviously well-loved and well-used and things that have been fixed with skill, creativity, or both. Things that were used in everyday life rather than those intended to impress. They have a link to the people that owned and used them, a history.

The personal history of objects is just one of the reasons I choose to repair things. Some things have sentimental value such as the dolls in the photo below. When I visited my sister at Christmas she had a collection of dolls that our Mum made and they had been attacked by moths so I spent two days fixing them for her. Below that you can see my pencil case, which I repaired just because I like it. I’ve spent the last two years looking for another pencil case without being able to find one I liked as much, so why not fix it? I could have used tape to repair the hole but a fabric patch suited me better. I really should clean that smudge from Buffy’s face…

repaired dolls and pencil case

Sometimes I like to fix things creatively.

Holes and worn spots patched with, um, patches.

Hand knit blanket and cushion with creative repairs.

Baby blanket. I crocheted around the edge because it looked unfinished and covered any holes or tea stains with flowers.

Baby blanket with crochet edge and appliques

More holes and worn spots covered with patches. I also removed the tatty fringe.

Mohair blanket repaired with crochet circle appliques

Holes covered with a crochet patch and some loomed flowers.

Oddball sampler afghan with repairs

More holes covered with more crocheted patches!

Knitted blanket with rat applique repairs

Sometimes I like to fix things invisibly. I’m currently learning more invisible mending techniques so I can do this more often, especially with darned clothing.

At the top is a baby jumper made for my daughter (now 19). I replaced the neckband by undoing the original and knitting a new one on. Unfortunately I lost the cool bow button in the process 🙁

Below that is a blanket that I made many years ago and gave to my Mum. I replaced the red round of crochet. I needs a couple of more repairs now but it’s special because Mum did nothing for three days except darn in all the ends because she liked it so much.

Baby jumper/sweater and granny square jumper with repairs

Sometimes I buy things that are imperfect because they suit what I need. Then I fix them to make them into exactly what I wanted.

I had been thinking about buying a small tabletop ironing board for ironing seams when this one turned up in the local op shop for a couple of dollars. I had intended to replace the cover but a friend on ravelry suggested a removable cover, making it even better than new because now I can wash it whenever I need to.

Upcycled sleeve board and toiletries bag

The box is another thing I was looking for that almost suited my needs. Anyone who visits this site regularly will know that I have a bit of a passion for flower looms (a bit, haha). Anyway, I needed a way to carry them in my bag when I travel without the spokes getting broken off. No matter how hard I looked, all I could find was cheap looking makeup boxes until I saw this retro box at the tip buyback shop (a shop at our local garbage dump where people leave things other people can use so they don’t have to pay to dispose of them). The lining was filthy so I washed it, took out the bag and re-covered it with kitsch Christmas kitten fabric. I love how it’s now a very sedate looking retro men’s toiletries bag when it’s closed, and a total surprise of ridiculous kitschiness when you open it 🙂

It was also a very enjoyable challenge to work out exactly how to re-cover the lining of the box. The right order to do it in, the right technique, the size of the pieces and how to cover my mistakes.

Sometimes I don’t want to fix things at all but they’re important to someone else so I do it anyway 🙂

I took this blanket apart completely, remade about a third of the squares and then put it back together.

Remade granny square blanket

There are still things that I refuse to repair though. We have some nasty cheap book cases in our living room which I hate. They’re scheduled to be replaced with proper solid pieces of furniture as soon as they fall apart (which looks to be soon!). I also don’t bother to repair rips in cheap clothing, only special items or things like jeans, where a repair can be creatively done.

So that’s why I repair things. Personal history, a challenge, a chance to be creative, to turn something that’s “almost right” into something perfect, to lengthen the life of something useful, or to do something nice for someone else.

Do you repair? Why? Why not? If you write a blog post about it let me know and I’ll add a link below.

Blogs I like about creative and useful repair:

Tom of Holland

Past Imperfect: The Art of Inventive Repair

Op Shop Finds

I don’t buy things at the op shops very often any more but I couldn’t resist these today.
I went out with Sortahubby to buy a light for making craft and music tutorial videos this morning, and on the way home we popped in an op shop to see if I could find some fabric to make a backdrop. We film on the dining room table which has a bookshelf behind it, so it has to be hidden when making videos 😛

We found all this:

Op Shop Finds

5m of navy blue crepe, which should work well suspended from the ceiling in front of the bookcase, and “Old Bear Stories” video that we don’t have, and lots of everyday needlework notions. Needles (hand and machine), bodkins (which I desperately need after bending so many safety pins when inserting elastic), transfer pencil, laundry marker, bias binding (for singercraft guide edgings), self cover buttons, puffy angel wings, and flower stamens.

All these cost about $20 and I wish I had a bigger budget because I could have bought lots more needles, bindings and bits!

Happy Birthday to Me!

Actually my birthday was yesterday 🙂

Miss Brittany, Charlie and I went op shopping for the day and had some really amazing finds.

I was making a list of what I was looking for the night before and it only had 2 things on it: 2 soft toys to make into handbags and interesting craft stuff. But then the thought popped into my head that I was going to find a flower loom that I don’t have in my collection. This would be almost impossible for 2 reasons: I have a lot of different looms in my collection already and they were never very popular in Australia (most of my collection came from a convent in the US).

Apparently this was not important because I found this

Not only did I not have this particular anonymous loom in my collection, but it’s also made in Australia. Amazing 🙂

Right next to it in the craft crap bin was this set of multi-looms (also known as magic looms)

Magic looms

Now I don’t have to worry about ruining my good ones if I decide to experiment with wire and video tape and other things that could possibly break a loom.

Earlier in the day I found this cute little pink plastic knitting needle gauge. It’s old but not as old as a lot of them out there because the plastic feels more modern.

Patons Beehive knitting gauge

and these handles (which the baby is playing with as I type this)

Vintage bag handles

That particular op shop occasionally has really awesome vintage craft stuff but I was really blown away when I found this unworked linen coaster/placemat set (there are 4 of each on the panel).

Vintage embroidery with ships

Vintage unworked embroidery with ships

Vintage embroidery with ships

This find was amazing because we live on the coast, and floral embroideries with ships on are my favourite designs. I have found a few already worked before 🙂
This chicken scratch deer will make a nice cloth for Christmas. I just need to hem the edges. It’s actually a really big piece of cloth, I just folded it under for the photo.

Chicken scratch deer

Some awesome fabric. The fur fabric is just right for a stole I want to make my daughter. I couldn’t find it anywhere new, but I found it in a op shop when I wasn’t looking for it for $1

Thrifted fabrics

The green 50’s-ish looking fabric is a HUGE piece of knit jersey.
I found my two stuffies to make into handbags and an Ikea rat.

Soft toys

and the interesting crafty bits also from my list: orange cord, 3 packs of bias binding, and 2 balls of yarn. When I was picking out the yarn I met a lovely lady and told her all about ravelry 🙂

Vintage yarns and bias tape

Charlie scored some toys for being a good boy. The giraffe was a gift from the op shop volunteers when he blew a gasket and I told him he’d been a good boy all day and it was ok to be tired and grumpy at the end of the day 😀

Thrifted toys

and finally, in the very last shop, an entire couchfull of t-shirt fabric, ribbing and a little fleecy for sleeves for some jackets I already have in progress

Knit fabric

All of the fabric on the couch cost Aud$33, which is the price of three cheap baby t-shirts in Best n Less :-/ There’s enough there to make over a dozen, possibly twice that!
That was my amazing op-shop score but then I got home to find out I’d won a rare flower loom on ebay for 2/5 of my maximum bid, then the unicorn handbag that my daughter missed out on from the Reverse Garbage creative re-use centre came back and was offered to me for $10 (including postage) if I promise to post a tutorial on how to make soft toys into hand bags, which I was going to do anyway.

What a great 40th birthday. I had a feeling it was going to be good when the baby slept in late and I got to have breakfast and a cup of tea before he woke up 🙂

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