A Patchwork Planet and Stitching Together the Fabric of Time

sinister?I’ve been trying ever so hard to be conscientious about buying (or more accurately not buying) clothes.  This also means I’ve been thinking about what to do with clothes once they are no longer serviceable as such.  Goldilocks generally manages to out grow clothes before they wear out too badly and so can be passed on to her younger cousins and friends.  I tend to wear things to the point of falling apart and then they become part of my cleaning arsenal.  I don’t darn, patch or stitch things back together though and I think perhaps I should.

My jeans are the worst offenders.  What’s more the stiffer fabric doesn’t lend itself so well to cleaning chores and so I’ve quite a few pairs slumped in the bottom of the wardrobe.  I wear jeans with holes in the knees quite happily, I should patch them at this stage really. But what generally happens is I wait till they are peeling away from the knees  and a bit beyond my rather shoddy needlework skills.  And like everyone else I’m pretty good at pleading time poverty.

The pile of denim is daring me to chuck it out.  I’ve decided to start patching them afresh into something new to avoid the temptation.   What the new is I’m not exactly sure yet.  I’m not always keen on patchwork, it can look a bit twee.  Still there should be a happy medium somewhere in between Laura Ashley and Tracey Emin.

I’ve decided to do all the stitching by hand.  This isn’t some worthy attempt at powering down.  I have an electric sewing machine it’s just I don’t have a place where it can be left out.  Chunks of time where I could clear a space and put it all away again are at a premium.  It would just never happen.  I do have small patches of time though in which it is feasible to thread a needle wherever I happen to be.  This is as much an exercise in stitching together patches of time as it is patches of fabric.

In nineteenth century New England young women were expected to stitch together (presumably in their spare time) a bakers dozen of quilts as part of their dowries.  The last and thirteenth being the quilt of the marriage bed.  I’ve managed about nine patches in a fortnight, Miss Haversham will get married before me!

I’ve started with some rather rudimentary squares on the grounds it shouldn’t be too complicated even for me.  A couple of The Man from Salford’s tattier shirts have been pressed into use. They have useful checks and lines and make cutting easier although it would be nice if he had a taste for something a little more exotic, purple paisley maybe?   

As denim is prone to fraying I’ve used paper inserts to give me a straight edge.  It was once thought women would stitch in love notes, though  social historians have pointed out only the literate and well-off  would have had access to any useful amount of paper.  Such women didn’t really need to be stitching at all, it was just one of several means to keep them out of trouble.  And where would I be if women hadn’t occasionally caused trouble throughout history? (Married  whether I liked it or not?) 

I am of course recycling paper for this purpose and it will make it’s way to the compost bin once I pull it out of the end product.  I’m slightly ashamed to admit two sheets were an article I’d printed off about deforestation! Will do better!!!!!! 


I’m trying to use every last scrap of the jeans. I’ll use the long strips down the seams for piping.  The rivets make quite pretty decorations, so every so often when I’m bored of plain stitching and squares I’ve made shapes to applique to the less-than-thrilling patches.  I tried using a bit of zip and some buttons to make a happy smiley face but the result seems a little, well vaguely disturbing and sinister.  Let me know if you think zippy should make it to the finished article.  


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3 comments to A Patchwork Planet and Stitching Together the Fabric of Time

  • Oh yes, the teetering pile of holey denim taunts me at my house too! The sewing machine is out, but there is hardly any elbow room and I tend to just end up piling things on top of it.

    I love the patches you show here though, that one with the zippy mouth is fab. I always intended to do little sewing chores like this in the evenings but in this vile weather I find myself knitting instead…

  • Jane

    I love your stitching!

    This is my first time to your blog, and I’m very envious of your home – what a great location. I too have a pile of jeans and thick cotton trousers waiting to be made into something useful, as my brother wears out a pair about every three months (what does he do to them? Just fidgeting can’t make that many holes, surely?!) and I too thought about patchwork – maybe a skirt, using the waistband and top parts of ones that fit, and patches below. But I also thought about a rag rug – one you push through holes in hessian – very hardwearing, and warm to do on winter nights!

  • goo

    Hi Jane, thanks for dropping by. I like your rag rug idea, don’t be surprised if I pinch it and end up writing about it! New ideas are always welcome here!

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