Thursday, July 19, 2012

Creative Space :: Winter sewing

There has not been a lot of sewing around here of late. Since the inevitable relinquishing of my sewing room, finding the time and space has been the main issue. Without a space to leave messy set-up for sewing the possibility of quick moments to sew has vanished. Now I have to factor in the clearing of the dinner table, the getting out of the machine, the setting up and the putting away time.....which usually leads me to just pass on the whole idea. The overlocker has sat unused and unthreaded for months as there is never the time to get out both machines. When I really have to get everything out it is usually for the most mundane of sewing tasks like mending. Thankfully there are enough handmade hand-me-downs going to keep everyone clothed.

But I did recently manage to do a whole lot of sewing of the most unglamorous yet practical kind. Sewing hankies. Kids winter hankies to be precise. 

We have always used cloth hankies and have accumulated over the years (with each new family member) quite a collection of vintage children's hankies. They are often very sweet with cute prints and the like, but really they are way too thin for the likes of one of my children with a full blown cold! I'm not a fan of tissues either; they are also too thin (causing you to double them up and risk it not being large enough, they leave the skin around your nose dry, red & raw and one always makes it into a washing load. 

When I pulled out our flannel fitted sheet to wash at the start of winter it immediately protested about its years of service and literally came apart. Where it was worn it was very worn but around the edges it was still thick and soft. I remembered my thrifty mum telling me about how they had used an old flannel sheet as hankies.

First I removed the elastic (cutting that into sections for staking tomatoes this coming season) and then cut along the corner seams so the sheet sat flat.

Using the rotary cutter I cut copious amounts of hankies (about 10" squares) 

I used 100% cotton to hem these as my plan is that they make their way into the compost eventually and I don't want to be fishing out polyester thread from the garden in years to come. These were then hemmed over a number of evenings. To overcome the mind-numbing boredom of this type of sewing I would watch something from TED or iview with earphones on to hear over the machine. I just turned the edge over once and used a wide and fairly close together 3-stage zig zag stitch, with a rough and ready reverse over the corners. These have been washed SEVERAL times and the hem is lasting fine.

In the midst of a snotty bout I just throw the hankies into a bucket to soak and then wash them as per normal and hang them in the sun for at least half a day for a good dose of sunshine. 

And all that super soft thin flannel from the centre of the sheet?

I just ripped it all into strips and then cut them to fit into a box to use as disposable kitchen wipes or hankies. Because despite now having a vast quantity of hankies (that pile up the top is about a quarter of the flannel hankies we now have) when the household goes down with everyone sick and snotty (fingers crossed as we have avoided that this winter), inevitably the washing falls behind and these are a great back-up.

It would be worth just having a box of these disposables in your cupboard for the next round of winter nose-blowing if only to save you from that red, raw nose.

Now I'm off to look at some other creative spaces of the more glamorous kind so I can imagine they are mine (in my parallel universe where no-one ever needs old-sheet-hankies and gets by with a light vintage hanky for their mild sniffle)


Seaweed and Raine said...

You are so right - regular hankies ARE too thin (and I'm always shaking the washing out it seems to get rid of that one ellusive tissue that got washed!). I'm almost looking forward to when the sheets wear out... almost. :)

Jackie @ Fred-and-Cissy said...

Fantastic! I've been wondering about making some more hankies for my boys, but felt that all the cotton fabric in my stash was a bit on the rough side. Now I have a use for that worn-out-in-the-centre sheet that I kept for the sake of the edges. Love the idea of some 'disposable' ones in a box too.

Brave New Fiona said...

Such a great idea Angie! I drafted a post today about not knowing what to do with all the thrifted flannelette sheets I have piling up in my wardrobe. At least this is one idea to throw into the pot, and a brilliant idea it is! Hope all the lurgies leave your home soon. xxxFi

Leigh @ Toasted said...

We're a a hanky-lovin family too. But I find that whenever we have colds (a) no matter how many hankies we have, it's never enough, and (b) lots of hanky use gives us red raw noses (weirdly opposite to you!)

We only buy tissues when we're down with colds. I get the aloe vera infused ones and our snouts cope so much better. The upside of this approach is - it feels like you're treating yourself like royalty when you go and buy them tissues you never otherwise do. Aaah - such simple pleasures.

Tricia said...

Great idea Angie. We did something similar - but our flannel hankies aren't as fancy. I simply ripped squares (If that makes sense?). the edges have frayed a little but we're still using them.

I'm also a huge fan of thrifted hankies. I often find lovely old embroidered hankies at the op shop for 20c.


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