Household mending-8th March 2022

Another stitch just in time

Mending tea towels? REALLY? Get a life, girl!

The obsession with mending things comes from a pig-headed streak in me, I admit it.

There was  a time when I had the same mis-matched tea towels as absolutely everyone else I know. I bet even the Queen has mis-matched tea towels. They are, without doubt, the most prosaic of household objects and I had dozens, in varying states of knackeredness. Different sizes, too. Who knew there could be so many different sizes? And I still have most of them even though they have been moved on to rag duty now.

Along with my pig-headedness runs a parallel streak of very slight OCD. I say slight because it is not obsessive. I can be a total slob one day and Mrs. Line-Everything-Up-In-Neat-Even-Rows the next day. The blue and white tea towels got ordered on one of the Mrs. L-E-U-I-N-E-R days.

I love blue and white things. The colour blue has always been my favourite colour- along with the whole of the rest of the world, apparently. The day I saw these I could just imagine them folded just so-

  • in half, top to bottom
  • in thirds, side to side
  • in thirds again, top to bottom

leaving a neatly folded parcel that will stand up by itself sideways, thank you Marie Condo.

They would all fit neatly, standing on their sides, in the wicker drawer of the big, pine sideboard in the kitchen, where I could whip out a clean one on a daily basis. It would be a visual treat every time I opened the drawer. Tra-la-la-la-la!

And so it was- at first. They all did sterling duty for the first year I had them and then-(cue shock-horror music) the HOLES started.  I had made the fatal mistake of buying cheap, of being seduced by appearances instead of doing my research into how well they were made, or not, before pressing the “buy it now” button.

They are 100% cotton so at least I know they will biodegrade when they get to that stage. Their problem is that the weave of the fabric just isn’t very robust. I would have known that instantly if I had been able to feel them before buying them. Lock down. Hey-ho.

So, when I am ironing them (“ironing helps to sanitize them and they will also fold away nicely in the drawer”, said Mrs. LEUINER) I just have my sewing machine open and ready to go. This is the fun part. I do use my old, beloved treadle Singer sewing machine for this part and I will tell you about that machine, and his friends, soon. For this mending job, I do not need to be hyper neat and tidy. I just want to strengthen the part of the towel around the hole and cover the hole itself. The old Singer 201 treadle has a reverse lever on it and, once I get the foot treadle going and start the fabric going forward, I can then steer the fabric with my left hand while operating the forward and reverse lever with my right hand. Back and forth I go, the treadle making a noise downstairs that inspired Rod to name my treadle machine “The Demented Hamster”. I do some back and forth rows going one way and then go over them again with the fabric turned 90 degrees to reinforce.  One hole takes less than one minute to repair. I dare not let them go through the wash again with a small hole as the small hole WILL come out of the washing machine as a much larger hole.

I am determined to get as much life out of them as I can and I still love the blue and white stripes. And I am also strange enough to quite love the little repairs. What can I tell you? The Wabi-Sabi thing again.

The moral of the story: pay a bit more if you are able to do so and be guided by the saying  “try to buy it just once”.

I guess I bought them cheap and so my saying now has to be, “repair it again, and again, and again.”

At least I get to play with my sewing machine.

Singer 201K Treadle

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  1. Ingenious!
    I love your thrifty response to holes. It’s weird but I don’t remember ever getting holes in my tea towels. Is that because they are made of linen? Or maybe I have too many mismatching tea towels!


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