Monday, October 29, 2012

Make Do and Mend, and a Blue Monday Give-Away

"Make Do and Mend" is a phrase from World War II that was more commonly used in Great Britain during WWII.  Food and clothing were rationed after about 1940, and frugal living was a necessity.

(This links with BLUE MONDAY bloggers because I love the blue banner! But wait, there's more!)

Smiling Sally
Did you have a grandmother or a great, or a great-great who saved string, reused aluminum foil and saved vegetable seeds from the past seasonal crops?  Of course, you say.  

One of my favorites messages about mending and reflecting on aspects not only referring to simply repairing clothes, but also speaking to the issue of healing spirits was written by Susan Kittredge, a pastor who read her message on NPR back in 2008.  Her entire story can be found here, and it is well worth the read.  She said, in part:
...I have come to relish the moments when I sit down and, somewhat clumsily, repair a torn shirt, hem a skirt, patch a pair of jeans, and I realize that I believe in mending. The solace and comfort I feel when I pick up my needle and thread clearly exceeds the mere rescue of a piece of clothing. It is a time to stop, a time to quit running around trying to make figurative ends meet; it is a chance to sew actual rips together. 
I can't stop the war in Iraq, I can't reverse global warming, I can't solve the problems of my community or the world, but I can mend things at hand. I can darn a pair of socks. 
Accomplishing small tasks, in this case saving something that might otherwise have been thrown away, is satisfying and, perhaps, even inspiring. Mending something is different from fixing it. Fixing it suggests that evidence of the problem will disappear. I see mending as a preservation of history and a proclamation of hope. When we mend broken relationships, we realize that we're better together than apart, and perhaps even stronger for the rip and the repair.
Now comes the part about cleaning and preserving needlepoint.

In this spirit of preserving, part of this past weekend was taken up in revamping a footstool I make twelve years ago with the ottoman top being made of a piece of needlepoint.  The best part?  The needlepoint is now about 100 years old.  Yes, really.  My great aunt made it in the early 1900's while living on her Texas farm.  It was under glass for many years, and was passed along to me.  I took the picture apart, discarded the frame and glass, and used it for that ottoman.  This is a picture I took several years ago of the needlepoint. had not been cleaned in all those 100 years until yesterday.  Granted, it was under glass for about 85 of those years, but for the past decade it has been used for feet, shoes and dogs to perch on.  Did I hear you say "yuck!"?

After scrub-a-dub-dubbing the ottoman skirt, sewing a seam on the bottom ruffle, ironing the fabric, re-adhering it back to the box base with staples, washing the needlepoint three times (you should have seen that dirty water in the first soaking!) and giving new trims, it is almost ready for use again.

The roses are much brighter.  All it is lacking is a knitted edge found here. I'm working fast and furiously on it.


If you leave a comment on this post and tell me something about Mending and Making Do and what you have done to make do and mend (or just that you went to the NPR site and read Kittredge's post...again, the site can be accessed here), your name will be put into my give-away for a piece of needlepoint my mother made many years ago. I will pick a name and let you know the winner once I have completed the lace edging for the newly renovated ottoman.  Then I'll show a picture of the "mended" and cleaned ottoman and announce the winner once that edge is finished.  Comments will be collected through November 6, 2012.

Here is the lovely yellow needlepoint piece, still damp and being blocked, 13.5" x 13.5" that you can win:

It is so fun to win something, and I do hope you will leave a comment.  I just won a digital download from Kepanie yesterday that she posted on her blog Knitspiring Odyssey.  It is an e-book entitled Autumn 2012 Accessories  Thank you, Kepanie!

Also linking to Time Travel Thursday:


  1. I believe in Make Do and Mend, too. In fact I mentioned it in a post I did for the 1940's US Census Project. It's title is "1944 Handmade Handbags" and can be accessed from my Sidebar 1940 US Census Project Page. I think you will enjoy seeing the bags as well the info on the post.

    Now about your 100 year old Needlepoint...what a treasure, and I love it that you are using it. I bet your great aunt loves it, too. Your project is more than make do and's an effort of love on a Family Heirloom.

    Thanks for sharing Susan Kittredge's words and link. I feel exactly the same way ... I can darn socks and repurpose so many things...never throw it away! I even use my scraps of thread, yarn, fabric, batting etc. for pillows and dog beds.

    What a special GiveAway! I am a needlepointer and recently took an older piece from a frame and made it into a pocket for a knitted bag. You can see it on the post entitled "Fall Inspired Stitching" listed under this months archives. Thank you for entering my name in your would be treasured.

  2. So pretty! I love yellow!
    I am reusing the polka dot fabric that was on my school walls for (drum roll) CURTAINS! Ha ha! I really am! I went through my dresser drawers today and I found two VERY old baby dresses. I shall make a lovely frock for Lizzy. That's two! I hope I win!

  3. what a beautiful work of art! I come from a long line of make do 'ers and re do' ers, I unravel the foot part of the wool socks I knit my husband and then knit new feet on them he always wears the heels out, I put s much work them I can't bring myself to pitch them out!

  4. Nancy your heirloom is beautiful although I think I should opt out of the giveaway as I recently received a lovely dragonfly flag from you... however, just wanted to join in with the comments - my grandma taught me to sew - I learned to turn collars, mend holes and make my own paper patterns - my 21st birthday present from her was a tailors dummy although sadly it could not be used as it was very old and 'stuck' in the size of her body measurements! It's the thought that counts - I am so grateful for her make do and mend skills - when I first set up home with my hubby I often turned his collars to make his shirts last as we were on a tight budget! Betty

  5. way you can opt are in the drawing, girlfriend!

  6. I do lots of mending and re-using;). Recently instead if ordering a new shirt to wear to Alex's Softball games, I sewed a cute polka dot bow over last year's name! I was so proud, saved that money AND my Daughter loved it and wanted me to do the same to hers! Enjoyed this post dear friend. Big hugs

  7. Wonderful post and I LOVE needlepoint, too. I remember my Grandmother would make do in so many in particular I remember was that she washed Ziplocs and re-used them...she grew up in the Depression and had a hard time throwing things away that could be used again. She would also 'make-do' by filling up the soap bottle with water when it was almost empty. Hope you're having a great week, enjoyed it!

  8. First of all I love the blue poster from the 1940's. Thanks for your visit today--I love football and basketball-especially college. This post is so inspiring Nancy, I too am a re-user of anything old. I have my grandmothers chest of drawers probably from the 1950's and use it in our bedroom. I'd rather have it than anything new. I reuse aluminum foil, baggies--seems silly to throw it away.I also love to take vintage clothes and remake them. I read the story and I love all her words of therapy.

  9. Thanks for sharing the blue banner.

    I'm sorry to take so long to comment, but my computer acted up.

    I look forward to reading your comment on my blog.

    Happy Blue Monday, Nancy.

  10. I love to repurpose old fabric. It breathes new life into them. But I tend not to mend that much, preferring to cut the shirt or pants into fabric for a quilt or a bag.
    You are very generous to give away a piece of your mom's needlepoint. I would hoard it.

  11. Here in the UK we have been watching a fabulous series on TV called 'Wartime Farm' I don't know if it was shown in the US?? It was brilliant and of course all about make do and mend! we could all learn something from these brave people who lived through WW2 and kept the country fed in terrible conditions!

  12. Nice post Nancy. The needlework is beautiful. I save glass jars to use for leftovers, wash and re-use storage and freezer bags. I will save heavy duty foil. I save old cotton T shirts and socks for washing windows and I use white vinegar in my washer rinse cycle. I mend clothes. I use glass bottles and jars to discard cooking oil and grease. That`s about it.

    Have a nice weekend my friend!

  13. Such lovely artwork! Goodness you gals are so talented here! Love your giveaway! Always a pleasure to say hi!


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