Mending was a big part of Nana's sewing, crochet and knitting life.
She also mended chairs, the clothesline, shoes and many other things as well. Nothing was discarded until she'd made sure there was no way to revive it.
"Make do and mend" wasn't just a slogan for Nana, it was a necessary part of homemaking life and by her example that natural inclination to repair and reuse became my way of life too.
Born in 1910 she lived through both World Wars and the Great Depression, and as a young mother with three children aged 2,4 and 5 she also took on her beloved sister's two children (aged 2 and 4) after Marie died of goiter.
Mothering five children under 6 through the Great Depression Nana had to draw on everything she'd learned from her own mother and grandmother, skills she improved on over time until at age 52 she once again became mother to a small child, me, and found them to be just as practical as ever.
That wonderful spirit of making something last, repairing or updating so that it's useful or beautiful once again - it's an art many people have lost.
Or perhaps they were never taught to be that way?
How blessed am I to have learned to make do and mend at Nana's knee.
I find it so inspiring to see how others breathe new life into old things because that's something I enjoy doing too, but mending is one skill that gives me more pleasure than any other around home.
A sense of accomplishment from knowing how to fix a broken footstool, for example, and make it useful again (something Mr E and I did together recently) encourages me to look for that option first before throwing an item away.
I admit there was a season in the past when I let this mindset slip, but once I began embracing the gentle domestic life again, and all that entailed, reacquainting myself with the skills Nana taught me became natural once more.
This month's free BOM design celebrates the gentle domestic arts of making do and mending and your pattern includes the two redwork stitcheries which you can use in any project you like.
I decided to make a needle-book and pincushion...
These small redwork blocks were designed and embroidered in 2014 and have sat unused in my UFO stitchery box ever since. Probably waiting for a time (or project) such as this.
The scissor keep was made by drawing a triangular shape around the "make do" block and fusing thin Pellon behind it. I then cut around my traced line before laying the block face down on a piece of backing fabric. A quarter inch seam was sewn all around, leaving a small opening for turning out.
After turning the scissor keep right side out I slip stitched the opening closed and pressed it flat.
The pincushion began with a 2 1/2" hexagon shape as the centre, then a round of narrow fabric strips sewn around each straight edge. I fussy cut the heart fabric for those borders - cute, huh?
I cut the stitchery into an oval shape and blanket stitched it onto the centre of the hexagon before fusing some scrap cotton wadding behind the completed front of my pincushion and hand quilting in the ditch and outside the hexagon border.
Once the front was made I trimmed the excess wadding away and made the backing from two pieces of the red fabric. Sewn together with a 1/2" seam, I left a small opening in the middle to fill the pincushion with ground walnut shells after I'd sewn the front and back together and attached the binding around the outside.
Once the binding had been sewn down and the filling added, I slip stitched the opening closed with very tiny, close stitches.
The pincushion is a generous size and simply lovely to use.
The scissor-keep was slip stitched to the front of my needle-book, leaving the top open to slip a pair of scissors in.
I made the cover and the inside of the needle-book separately, sewing them together around the outside edge just before adding the binding.
On the cover I also stitched a couple of small hexies and added a crochet flower and vintage button.
Inside there is a pocket for needle packs, a piece of doctor's flannel for storing pins and needles in use, and a magnetic hexie pin keep.
I also stitched in some vintage Ric Rac braid and cotton lace before finishing with a trio of red buttons.
My husband bought me some very strong tiny magnets and one of them was slipped into the pin-keep hexie before I stitched it down. It works wonderfully!
If you'd like some more specific steps to making your pincushions or needle-books visit my TUTORIALS page. There are plenty there, and most of these steps have been covered in one or another.
To download the free redwork "Make Do and Mend" stitchery patterns go HERE to my shop.
What will you be making from these designs?