Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Up to Some Mending Tricks

I was visiting my friend Mary Anne and we got into discussing mending, particularly a tricky zipper job that she wanted to do.  Then she showed me how she can slip a pant leg or sleeve on her sewing machine because of its space under the bobbin case.  I went home (fully loaded with a boppy, clothes, moby wrap, and baby extras she offered me - ah, the generosity of other mothers!) and went straight to my machine to see if I, too, had that handy space.  I do!


How has this escaped my notice for 7 years?  What is this called?  Does your machine have it?

 Of course, sliding a leg or sleeve onto this space means that I can't turn the fabric in all directions to patch a hole, so I use parallel stitching lines to mend.  For a really big hole, I think I would still rip out a side seam so I could really maneuver the problem area under the needle.

I slide off the plastic tray to reveal the smaller spaces where I can slide on a pant leg or sleeve.  I hope the photos make up for my lack of vocabulary for these machine parts!
But so often, I just want to quickly stitch up a hole and get the clothing back in service - I try to match my mending speed to the children's growth, which means I need to be fast.



When I started mending and darning, I was so proud that I took photos of every project.  Now, I mend so often that I rarely stop for a photo.

Recently, I mended these black pants for Ben - both knees had small holes.  They are knit pants, what we call "soft pants" around here and reserve for wearing at home or to bed, which is my attempt to preserve some dignity in public life.

Then I patched a strange hole near the hem of Genevieve's jeans.

I also patched a hole in my pajama sleeve that I got one morning as I was tearing (literally) out the back door with a full load of wet laundry to hang before we walked to school.


And then there was the loose flap of velcro on my husband's biking shoes, the unraveled seam on one of Ben's slippers, and the loosened stitching on a coat seam.  And I'm not even sure I could guess at how many socks I darned this winter - a lot, I know!  I love mending because it's so much faster than starting a whole garment from scratch.

14 comments:

Jan said...

You are on a roll!! Jx

Polly said...

How did I miss that birdie flannel fabric in your previous post? I have some of that in my cedar chest right now, waiting to be turned into a winter housedress. (Note: it's now spring. I won't be making that one for a while. My attention is now turned to crisp light cotton.)

Rhonda said...

I think it is called a free arm and it does make it much easier for some sewing of little things

BLD in MT said...

Mending is the bee's knees. Of course, I don't need to tell YOU that! :) Yes, that free arm bit of the sewing machine is quite handy for pant legs, though there are certainly limitations, as you mentioned. I used it a lot when Matt was working in the Fedex warehouse. The conveyor belts rubbed across his pant legs and always made holes across the mid-thigh. Sewing with others is so great just because of this sort of helpful tidbits!

Anonymous said...

Yes it is called a free arm, but having the flat plate is a lovely extra for flat things (quilts, long seams, etc.) I'd be lost without my free arm.

Doing odd shapes is a little tricky, but if you need to go on every angle, here's a way. Put the feed dogs down and you can do multi-directional stitching by just moving the fabric. Go slowly though (machine speed and hand speed) so that you don't get toe-catching big stitches. it's tricky, but kinda fun too.
Chris S in Canada

AmyK said...

I've been using my grandmother's sewing machine from 1962 and it screws into a sewing cabinet, so I haven't had the luxury of a free arm. When I've had smaller, circular things to sew I've wished for the chance to put it over the arm like your photo shows. However, that machine is basically done-for and I'll be getting a new one soon, which has a free arm. (I think most any new machine you could now purchase has a free arm.) I know I'll miss having the sewing surface flush with the cabinet top. Someday I may spring for a new sewing cabinet with one of the built in lifts where you can store the machine in the cabinet, raise it to be flush with the top or lift it higher to use the free arm, but that's not in the immediate future! Happy mending!!

Hazel said...

I put the feed dogs down like Chris, but I also bought a walking foot after seeing machine embroidery on a TV show.
It's open at the front, so you can be faster creating swirls and circles and machining over big holes. It was really useful mending work jeans at the side of the zip.

Sarah said...

Like AmyK above, I'm using an ancient machine attached to a cabinet, so I don't have that luxury. But, wow, you are accomplishing a lot. I just switched out our winter clothing for summer things for our family of 8 and now have a box of mending/alterations waiting for me.

Becky said...

I have a free arm on my machine, but even with that, I couldn't quite fit the skinny leg of a pair of pants a friend asked me to fix for her 5 year old son, so I had to do them by hand. Still only took a few minutes.

Margo said...

"free arm" - thank you, all, for giving me the correct term! And this is also impetus to figure out how to drop the feed dogs on my machine.

Anonymous said...

Your machine looks pretty new, if you have the manual it should explain where the button or lever is that controls the feed dogs. If you don't have the manual, I'm sure their website would help you out. I still have my mother's Bernina machine - it's a model most likely from the 40's, she bought it used - but I still love it more than my own machine. And I also love it because it was hers and I know the love she put into everything she sewed for her family.
Chris S. in Canada

Laura said...

Our machines are almost the same! Mine is a 240. I've done that for darning, but stitching patches onto very little pants is too much movement for such tiny pant legs, so I've had to do that by hand. Never thought of ripping open the side seam...

jenny_o said...

Yes, it's hard to keep up with mending the clothing of quickly-growing children, isn't it! Sometimes I was just a bit too slow and missed that window of opportunity :)

Sarah Barry said...

My machine does not have that space. Darn!

"Soft pants" I like that.

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