Last weekend I did a bit of sewing that I didn’t share. Honestly, it wasn’t that interesting to anyone by me but I thought I’d share the story as it might motivate you.
Twenty years ago I was fairly fresh out of college and working in my chosen field of radio broadcasting making about $5.50 an hour, working odd overnight and early morning airshifts and the odd DJ gig at various bars and roller skating rinks. If it sounds glamorous let me assure you it was! I was being paid in fun and for a 21-year-old you really couldn’t ask for more. I needed a nice winter coat and it had to look smart because working in radio in the 90’s with deregulation and small stations being bought up by larger companies you never knew when you came in for work each day if you would have a job or if your station would have new owners and would have fired everyone. Hence I had to look good for my constant hobby of interviewing for new jobs. I went into TJ Maxx on a mission and found the most beautiful burgundy wool coat that was tailor-made for me it seemed. It was double-breasted, knee-length with a fabulous weight and the perfect color. It was also $60 so I thought long and hard about buying it as it was easily half of my take home pay that week. I bought it and never once regretted that purchase. I rarely carry a purse so my keys would rip holes in the pockets which I mended. I replaced buttons after they gave out from getting caught in the holes of my laundry baskets from my pre house owning trips to the laundromat and later getting caught in shopping carts lifting my kids for cart to car seat. That coat saw me through many adventures.
About 2 years ago I had to face facts, the pockets could no longer be mended and the lining was in tatters. Mending might not be able to cut it this time. Feeling fairly competent I bought a couple of yards of burgundy satin (for $8 at Mardens-a local discoutn fabric store) and a matching spool of thread and decided I would sew a new lining for my coat. Now, I am the type of person who needs to jump in and do a project the moment I get inspired because If I spend to long thinking about it or researching different ways to do it I get overwhelmed. I read too many tutorials, I asked to many proper sewists how they would do it and ultimately I did nothing. The coat sat in my closet unworn while I grabbed lesser coats to wear outside. Because I felt fat and dumpy in my other coats I didn’t want to go out often in the cold. I didn’t pop into the library to grab a book and chat with the librarian when I was out, I didn’t feel good about myself in those coats so I would simply wait in the car to pick up my kids, heaven forbid if anyone saw me. All that wasted time, even if it was just a few minutes it was wasted.
As you know over the past year I had held each of my possessions in my hand and asked if they “sparked joy” and my old red coat still made me happy yet I kept those other very “unsparky” coats because I needed something I could actually wear outside (and quite frankly if you are going to do any serious work or play outside in the snow you want a machine washable parka.) Because of undergoing the Konmari method from the book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up I had fallen down the rabbit hole of other mindfulness and minimalism bloggers and last Saturday I happened to be reading an article about fast fashion. The article referenced a documentary on Netflix and I had a burst of motivation. I grabbed my sewing kit, beautiful coat and fabric and set to work on mending my coat as I watched the documentary. I started by cutting out the pockets and using them as templates to make new ones out of satin. I sewed them on my machine then hand stitched them in to my coat. I examined the lining which was the most overwhelming task and realized that most of the tears were on seams so I hand stitched the small awkward rips and machine sewed the rest. Turns out it was not as big of a project as I thought! By the end of the hour and a half documentary (which was not that great) I had a fully functional coat! I dug out my Dryell home dry cleaning kit that I haven’t used in over a decade and cleaned my coat (and I was super excited to see they still make Dryell! It is such a fantastic invention!) and it looked fabulous. I realized it had lost a button at some point but I had a matching one in my stash so I stitched that on and it was as good as new. Maybe better than new because the satin I made the pockets from was thicker and sturdier than the original. It also made me glad I didn’t rip out the lining because I think the satin might have been too stiff to work as a lining fabric. Here is my 22-year-old coat as good as new and still my favorite!
The old saying goes: “They don’t make them like they used to…” and in this case I agree. I had tried on other coats over the years thinking that I could just replace my old beloved red wool coat but the coats I found felt cheap, flimsy and just didn’t feel right or make me feel the way I wanted to in them. I think we often try to buy something because we think it will rekindle the feeling we had when we bought a similar thing. That’s why fast fashion has such popularity, you can buy something new and cheap to replace something old and dull but the novelty soon wears off. I think that the amount of thought you put into a purchase is related to the enjoyment you will get out of it.
I have grown a lot over the past year of decluttering. Two years ago when I bought the fabric and spool of thread to take on this project I thought I was being smart and thrifty. Turns out I already had a spool of thread in the exact color I needed and I only really needed enough fabric to make pockets and not replace the entire lining. I could have done this repair with 1/4 yard of fabric at $1 vs the 2 yards of fabric plus spool of thread for $10. Also I would have actually done the project quickly because I would not have been hung up on what I thought I needed to do instead of what I really needed to do. Still its way less wasteful and less expensive than buying a new coat of that quality which would cost about $200. I hope this post inspires you to tackle a task you have been meaning to do but overwhelmed by. Do what needs to be done and enjoy life now. It’s usually less work than you think it will be and always worth it because even if you mess up a project you learn something new! What are you going to do today? Let me know in the comments below and til next time happy crafting!