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More Notes From A Country Kitchen - 10/3/11

Fri, Sep 30th, 2011
Posted in Columnists

Took a survey at work the other day to see how many of my co-workers knew how or actually "mended." Not too many!!

Some relied on their mothers or mothers-in-law, some hired a seamstress to do it, and some just tucked the ripped item away!! A couple of them did repairs and mended on a regular basis! Good for them! Mom never taught any of us how to "mend." She taught all of us how to sew a button back on and how to quickly sew a loose pant hem. She fixed all our rips and tears herself and usually by hand. When I got married, I relied on my mother-in-law, who was a great seamstress, to fix any of my husband's ripped jeans. However, when we moved to Silver City, Iowa (down in the southwest corner of Iowa), I couldn't count on her any more. We usually only came back to Minnesota at Christmas time and Den thought he needed his jeans repaired a little more oftener than once a year! I had a nice little sewing kit that I had gotten as a shower gift, complete with assorted needles, thread, scissors and seam ripper. I tried hand sewing a patch onto a ripped bluejean, but it was near impossible to get the needle pulled thru all the fabric. I even tried pulling the needle thru with a pair of pliers! When Den saw how much trouble it was and how I was not enjoying "mending," he took it upon himself to buy me a sewing machine that he saw for sale in the newspaper. He paid $20 for a used black Singer that was mounted in a cabinet. It only went forward and backward - no zig zagging or fancy gadgets. It had a knee lever you pushed to make the machine run. Between the two of us we managed to get the machine threaded, and I started playing around with some worn-out material in order to get the "feel" of the thing. Managed to get my finger in the way a time or two but didn't have to go to the emergency room! Eventually, I felt comfortable with the machine and decided to tackle my first pair of jeans. Was a small rip by the back pocket. I carefully cut out my nice square piece of material from a really worn out pair of jeans and placed it on the torn spot. I nicely pinned it down and was ready to start sewing. I sewed all around the square and then made a few more cross stitches so the patch would really stay on. Looked really good, except for the fact that I forgot to separate the front of the jean from the back of the jean and my stitching went right on through. My patched pocket was now stitched to the entire jean! Guess what - I got to use my brand new seam ripper and tear that patch out! Eventually I got the patch on and Den even wore the jeans to work the next day. I did learn a few tricks to "mending" though. #1 - it's best to put the patch on before you wash the jeans. Once you wash the pants you have lots of frayed edges and tons of string that have to be cut off and trimmed out. This tends to make the hole even bigger!!

#2 - spend some time deciding if the patch should be sewn on the outside of the jean or on the inside, and if you put it on the inside made sure the dark colored side is showing through the torn opening.

#3- sometimes ironing the edges down before applying the patch to the outside makes for a nicer looking patch.

#4-if you ever get a chance to buy iron on patches - do it!!!!! They work really, really well!!! I have upgraded sewing machines and have a nice one that Den also bought for me at an auction. I really like the zigzag feature!! That really keeps the patch on!! And having an open arm makes life much easier too. I still do a lot of mending, but mostly on jeans. One summer I did buy a simple pattern to make myself a top and it went quite well. Didn't have any buttons or zippers, so I bought some cheap fabric and made about six tops from the same pattern. Wore them when I cleaned house and mowed the yard and fed the pigs and weeded the garden. Didn't want anyone getting too close a look at my "sewing" attempts!! Chalk that up to one of my many not too successful attempts in life!

Several people have asked me for that "crazy cake" recipe that I described in one of my previous articles. It is quite long so I have not printed it in my column. If you would like a copy, stop in at the bank in Harmony (where I work) or send me your address and I will be glad to mail you a copy.

Today's recipe is from Kathy Whalen. She made it for a party I was at about 25 years ago and I loved it!!!

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