Make do and mend

Something happened to my favourite pair of ripped jeans. 😦

Overnight, they developed pale blotchy brown stains splattered all over the legs. I have no idea what it is. And it won’t wash out, I’ve tried everything. I think it’s something plant-based from out in the back yard, perhaps dating from a rather vigorous pruning session. Rips I live with happily, it’s part of the ‘worn-and-loved-to-death’ look, but these stains just looked, well, dirty.

So instead of throwing out a perfectly good pair of jeans I love, I resolved to patch them. It’s the way I was brought up, by a mother who raised 4 small children, my older siblings, during WWII. ‘Make Do and Mend’ is deeply ingrained in my psyche as a way of life, in all sorts of ways.

Screen Shot 2015-09-16 at 10.29.35 pm

According to the British Museum website: “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’. An updated version of the book was recently released to coincide with the economic recession, offering similar frugal advice for 21st century families.” (My italics).
©The British Library

Some of the stains were very small. Others were bigger. I tried ‘pretty decorative patches‘ in nice fabrics. It looked…. meh. And then I thought: Where does it say patches have to be square?

You know what’s coming, don’t you?  What’s my perennial go-to patch(work)?  Yup. The hexie.

Screen Shot 2015-09-16 at 10.06.36 pm

Bye bye, brown blotches. Hello, happy hexies!

I may or may not do a bit of random embroidery on them too. I’ll see how I feel tomorrow.

I’m Hexcited to announce yet another scrap project completed!

41 thoughts on “Make do and mend

  1. Love the hexies: you could take it one step further by fussy-cutting the hexies. (Sorreee! I don’t mean it)

    Make do and mend was the bane of my WWII childhood: as the youngest in the family I had to wear 3rd time re-made clothes. Mum had a pre-war tailor-made pleated dress that I loved, in dark green and white houndstooth check. wool. By the time I wore it it was a boring skirt which crept up my thighs as I grew out of it.

  2. knitnkwilt says:

    I remember darning socks; now it is hard to find a darning egg.

    • katechiconi says:

      I suppose if there was a worldwide movement to return to darning, the wood-turners would start making darning eggs and mushrooms again. I have a marble one, which is cold and heavy; I’d prefer wood.

  3. knitnkwilt says:

    PS your jean solution is clever and cute

  4. Well done you – I love refashioning clothes! I too ahve a Make Do and Mend Book – it’s a republished one from the war and has all sorts of hints and tips. Love it 🙂

  5. We should be doing that in good times as well as tougher times. So much creativity comes out of pure necessity. I LOVE what you did to those jeans. They are adorable and should make you happy every time you wear them. Hmmm. You’ve got me thinking. 🙂

    • katechiconi says:

      They surely do make me smile to look at them! I have a shirt waiting in my sewing room to be patched and mended for the umpteenth time. It’s a favourite, and I won’t let it go peacefully until the mends and patches join up!

  6. tialys says:

    I see you couldn’t avoid another pun at the end there 😉

  7. knettycraft says:

    Lovely and colourful hexies!!! I like it. I did sth similar with yoyos on a linen vest with frayed edges. My grandma’s had to raise there children during WWII and there where many improvised cooking receipts from these days (like floursoup with bread)… I have a lot of children photos showing my father wearing clothes made from adults clothes. My grandmas were very creative in it. I remember light blue anorak I owned as a child – I really disliked it. I was glad when it was too small… the arms were too short – and my grandma added selfknitted wristbands to it so I could wear ot one winter more!

    • katechiconi says:

      Yes, dreadful when clever people make it possible to wear something you hate even longer! And my mother was a soup demon too – I can still make soup from the most unlikely scraps and leftovers.

  8. Hexies really are the answer to everything. I am pretty sure I have that book and its companion that gave cooking tips while living on rations and without eggs and butter.

  9. EllaDee says:

    A good well earned stain/rip or evidence of long wear I can live with but when a hole appears or seams goes within months/weeks it annoys me. But still I mend unless it’s obvious the article has become a car/bike cleaning rag, and get my footwear repaired. Because I get attached to my old things. So I love your favorite old jeans, and the clever patches. You’ll get years more wear from them 🙂

  10. anne54 says:

    I love the jeans. The clusters of little hexies are so cheerful, and then there are the ones floating down the legs. Clever you!

  11. Lorij says:

    I’m a child of the 50s. Mother raised 3 of us on her own. I’m the oldest and I wore many second hand things and a lot of time there was no choice. Some times there were new clothes but they were usually underthings and socks. I have small feet so I always got new shoes for school and, I’m not rough on shoes so they generally lasted the entire year! Once in awhile something would be given that I really liked and you know those things we wear a lot 😊. I remember mending socks and wearing home made slips.
    Although the times were hard they were good. I’m glad for some of the experiences because they helped me to survive as a young woman and mother raising 2 children alone. I’m glad for the gardening lessons and washing and other things that I could not have learned any place else. Mother is gone now but, I’m eternally grateful. Not wasting any thing is in my blood 😊. I really enjoyed the blog today, made me again know how blessed we really are.
    Your splatter of stains truly gave me a much needed lift! Thank you 😄😄😄

    • katechiconi says:

      I’m glad it has brought you such strong and important memories! One of the earliest memories I have is my mother winding balls of wool from the freshly washed skein I was holding up on my little arms: an old pullover unravelled to make a new one for me, so it was very exciting!

  12. Magpie Sue says:

    So I’m behind the times here, finally doing a bit of catch-up. I LOVE the idea to use hexie patches! And yes, I think some embroidery is totally called for. Mentally you just need to move up a few decades to the 1960’s and the hippie era. ;- )

  13. Kirsten says:

    “I’m Hexcited” . . . boom, boom! 🙂

  14. Love. My skill level only permits me to turn holes into monster faces and dragon faces, but fun all the same.

  15. Lynda says:

    In high school in ’71 I had a pair of jeans that I patched. Mostly about the seat, pocket slits and leg hems. Patched and patched again through to ’74 when I was in the Navy. All through my travels I found interesting items to add to the mix. Two favorites were:
    The brilliant, red, corduroy heart on the left buttock. I made it when I was 18 and sick in bed with a terrible fever. It featured an embroidered black widow just off center. The other added glory was a found bit of gold, sequined, trim that I discovered when I went to Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Louisiana. I took it back the the barracks with me and stitched it down along and outer seam on one leg.
    I have no recall of what happened to those jeans. But I have some very good memories of wearing them. Yours have a lovely start! I think I will enjoy seeing how they progress over time. 😉

    • katechiconi says:

      They sound fabulous! The trick for me here will be knowing when to stop; in this climate anything too heavily encrusted with ‘personality’ will be too hot to wear!

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