Daily Archives: September 7, 2010

Oh, but we can MAKE it for much less

Long ago on a shopping trip with my mom, Queen of “Oh, we can MAKE it for much less”, I spied a dress that I really wanted. All I remember is that it was brown. But for some reason, I really liked it, so she pulled out a pad of paper and began drawing as she checked out the dress front and back. I probably sighed and rolled my eyes. Did we ever make that one? Beats me.

Back then, I just wanted to buy it. I probably understood the value of money — I just didn’t appreciate it. Eventually, that penetrated my brain — probably when it was my own money. I no longer cringed at the term “homemade.”

So you see, if there is one thing I’ve learned from my mom it’s that homemade is often better. This applies in a number of areas: clothing, food, household items.  This is why I blame her for the fact that I can’t just make a decision to buy something; I have to look at it, think it over and then mull over the possibilities of how I could make it better. This is not a bad thing to have learned from one’s mom. Some might label us cheap. I like to think of it as a good use of one’s resources. And cheap. Very cheap.

This habit has served me well over the years. Just think of how bored I’d be if there were no projects sitting around waiting for me to get started and/or finish. There are, in my sewing room, at least 10 such projects underway. Okay, that’s a lie. There are at least 15. To my credit, I recently polished off a few of them.

For example, we have a butterfly chair that dates back to the late 60s. My parents built a study on to their house; this was my dad’s domain. It featured an orange cone-shaped wood burning stove, an ancient gigantic wooden desk that I think Dad resurrected from the old science building at the college. (The top of this is now my cutting table in my sewing room.) There was also the butterfly chair which began with a black canvas sling. Over the years, it’s been replaced in various colors, but when the previous one wore out, I decided not to buy one. Instead, I would make one using the old one as a pattern.

So I bought some lime green canvas about a year ago. Well, maybe 9 months ago. I started cutting the sling seat in May, but life and my abdomen got in the way — delaying work until last week. This is kind of like the bridge on Spring Street. It got started, delayed, started, delayed…and you get the picture.

Still, I finished my project. The bridge guys haven’t. My 40-year-old butterfly chair is back in circulation. And the cost? Oh, MUCH less than a purchased one.

Ike guarding the old cover, cut up to use as a pattern

New cover on 40-year-old frame

Which reminds me, a few years ago, daughter number 1 came home with some terrific fabric sling bags labeled “Whole Foods”. They hang over the shoulder and across the body and are terrific for the farmer’s market. Unfortunately, WF was no longer selling the bags. And I wanted one. Really wanted one. So…I took one apart, made a pattern out of old newspaper, and began making them out of random pieces of fabric. These bags have become my favorite gift and/or can be used as a gift wrap. As I was finishing up the butterfly chair, I noticed the bag pattern — it appears I have more to make.

Then…daughter number one just held out an old “Threads” magazine to me, commenting on how much she liked the shrugs made from a rectangle of fabric and two seams. Sort of. It’s a little more complicated, but basically that’s it. “Can you make me one?” Absolutely. I’m on it. That makes project number 16.