Tidying and Repairs

Sewing Buddies: don’t forget that today is the final day to upload entries for Sewing Buddy Challenge #2: Color!  You have until midnight tonight to get your images added to our Flickr group.  Take care to label them “Challenge #2” and best wishes to all of you–the field is still wide open, and I can’t wait to see what you’ll come up with!

While I was working on Stitch Savvy (just a few weeks left until it’s here!), we were living in our rental house after selling our old house and while shopping for our new one.  We were in the rental a little over six months, and made the best of it: it was actually a little smaller than the old house, and my work space was significantly reduced, but after four years on the market trying to sell, we were delighted with the freedom to move and search for another home.

Having a smaller space meant a couple of things.  It meant less storage, and more things out in the open than before.  Which, when you have a 3-year-old boy, can lead to terror and destruction.  Like the Saturday that we lollygagged in bed while the kids watched cartoons, only to learn that our son had gotten hold of my (insanely sharp) applique scissors.  Not only had he cut a hold right dead in the MIDDLE of the hand-quilted whole cloth quilt that I had very nearly finished for the new book (quelle horror!), but he had also worked his way down the row of nesting storage baskets on the windowsill and snipped through each and every one of their handles:

While thrilled he didn’t snip off one of his teeny fingers, I was understandably…um, upset?  Put out?  Ruffled?  Yeah, something like that.  Now, in theory, I could have opened these up, removed the damaged handles, and replaced them with new ones.  But seriously, what sane person has the time to do such a thing?

They stayed that way for some time (I had to re-make that entire quilt before sending it off to the publisher, after all), and moved into the new house with us in that sorry state.  And then, this weekend, I finally cared enough to take the 15 minutes to repair them.

This is not a complicated repair, but I think it’s useful to know that it can be done.  There are lots of times when you get a rip or tear in a piece of fabric and think all is lost, but if you’re not super worked up about the final appearance of the object, this can be a great solution.  My mother used to repair all my step-father’s work pants this way–it’s basically a poor man’s darning, since no one I know actually does any real darning anymore.

Set your machine to a zigzag stitch–the wider the better.  The length can be on or near your “default” length, which on most newer machines is between 2.5 and 3.

Place the rip beneath the needle.  For me, that meant lining up the pieces just right so that the edges that had been cut butted up against one another.  Now,  I could have overlapped them, obviously, but I didn’t want to (a) shorten the handle and have it not match the one on the other side of the basket or (b) add that much bulk by lapping the two ends on top of one another.  Butting the edges together allows me to preserve the length of the handle without adding any extra bulk.

Get them right up next to one another, with no off-set.  This applies whether you’re repairing a handle or a torn pants knee.  If the edges aren’t flush and even, you’ll end up making a pleat-y-dart-y thing that doesn’t really satisfy.  Make sure the fabric is laying flat beneath the needle before you begin.

Using your zigzag stitch, sew over the tear so that the needle lands on opposite sides with each stitch, drawing them together.  Do this back and forth a number of times–I find five to be pretty solid.  Keep in mind that more isn’t always better here: if you go back and forth too many times, you might weaken the good fabric at the edges of the tear, and make a bigger tear.  So pace yourself and use a bit of caution.

When you’re done, that’s it!  Repair made!  It’s not glamorous, but it’s fixed, and it works for me.  If this is a rip in a garment, you’ll want to extend your stitches beyond the end of the tear by a bit, but in my case, I went to the edges and called it a day.  Now all my little baskets needn’t be ashamed of themselves any longer.  I’m sure you, like I, will sleep better at night knowing that.

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  • KerryQ
    October 2, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    Thank you for the thorough tip! It seems obvious, but it’s nice to have it laid out for me!

    • Deborah
      October 2, 2012 at 9:12 pm

      Oh, I’m so glad it’s useful for you! Funny how the little tricks and tips get overlooked sometimes, and then that’s just the thing you needed to complete a task that had been lying around! 🙂

  • Rachel at Stitched in Color
    October 2, 2012 at 9:05 pm

    OMG, OMgosh!!! The quilt. Quelle Horror indeed. The darning is great, but can we see the slashed quilt someday? Isn’t that a gory request? I’m like a Roman…

    • Deborah
      October 2, 2012 at 9:09 pm

      Oh, Rachel, you just made me spit milk out my nose!! This is easily one of the funniest comments I’ve read in a long while. Yes, it’s totally like the Coliseum–we just want to see the gore and then be able to have that catharsis without any of our own quilts being in danger, yes? There is a big pen mark and a giant–to me, it’s probably 2.5″ total–cut across the dead center of an all-white whole-cloth quilt, and then a bunch of little cuts in other spots. It was hand-quilted in part and FMQd in part, and was just waiting on the binding. Thought I would pass out when I saw. Spent a couple weeks wondering if we could just stage the photos so no one would notice! Ended up doing it ALL OVER AGAIN from scratch. Maybe I will share pictures once the book comes out–I just moved the Ghastly Remains down to the basement this evening, ironically!