Wednesday, 7 January 2009

My new thing for today is... frugal ineptitude

I grew up in the 1970s, and my friend Joanne was a very cool friend to have. She had blue jeans with tartan bottoms like the Bay City Rollers.

We didn't have a lot of money, so one day my mother took a pair of my outgrown orange trousers (look, it was the 70s, remember?) and sewed some blue floral fabric on the bottom to lengthen them. She then presented me with this frightening item, saying: "Look! You'll be just like Joanne!"

I don't need to tell you I looked nothing like Joanne.

The reason I am dragging up this sorry story once again is that times are hard in the Coffee House at present, and making do and mending is back on the agenda. I've spent the morning turning the heating off, reading Misssy M's list of vests and browsing the net for January sales of thermal underwear.

If that weren't tragic in itself, I have also been making the poor Littlest Latte her first pair of Frankenstein pyjamas. The Eldest Latte, due to her disability, often crawls at home rather than looking around for her elusive crutches, so holey knees are an occupational hazard. Recently I trotted down to the market haberdashery to buy an iron-on patch for her jeans that said Girl Thing!. Oh, I thought I was so clever as I ironed it on! I was appalled to see it peeling itself obnoxiously off the first time I washed it.

Anyway, anything she passes down is similarly challenged in the knee area, which makes the Littlest Latte look like an urchin as she climbs the stairs to bed.

The thing is, I know that some of you sit around your house of an evening handsewing beautiful things. (Ali, I'm looking at you.) And I'm not going to post a picture of these pyjamas after their knee surgery with a worn-out pink top but let me tell you, even the four-year-old looked scared. I am out of my depth and this is one thing that I know I can't ask my mother about.

So please, if anyone knows how to mend my children's clothes without them looking even worse than I did in my orange trousers, let me know.


  1. Don't look at me. I did not inherit my mother's sewing gene. Nor her sit-down-and-play-something-on-the-piano-beautifully-having-never-seen-the-piece-before gene, while we're at it. Damn it all. (Good luck...)

  2. I'm good at making, less good at mending - which explains the holes in one of each pair of my lovingly handknitted socks (grrrrr).

    I have heard duct tape works quite well ...

  3. I think you have to fully embrace the bad patch fabulousness of them.

    When I was an impoverished student, living in a freezing house I found men's thermal long johns to be warmer than PJ bottoms. I aquired a (new I'm sure) pair from a charity shop. My family unkindly referred to them as 'dead man's drawers' but I loved em. When they sprang a hole, I patched them with a bit of an old shirt hem. Sadly the new patch proved stronger than the old fabric and they sprang another hole. I doggedly patched over it and so it continued till there was more patch than original garment. But I loved them dearly as each little scrap of patch became part of my wardrobe history.

    Evidently the (long winded) answer is more holes! And more patches, preferably with lurid thread.

  4. I'm totally with you on the iron on patches, iron on - wash off.....
    the holes in the knees in this house are usually due to playground scrapes, and I resorted with the last pair to putting the patch underneath and zigzag stitching the hole closed over the top. I like Ali's theory to embrace the patch, make them not matching, think vintage chic.......

  5. Couldn't you pretend that the holes are Designer Holes? MasterM has extra special jeans which were pre-holed when he bought them. He has added frayed ends because he refuses to wear belts and so they drag on the ground but you may not wish to achieve this level of designer decay.


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