Thursday, March 14, 2019

Mending on Wednesday

On Sunday, I changed my bed sheets and washed the flannel set that had been on my bed.  On Monday, when I folded the laundry, I noticed that there were several tears in the fitted sheet, in an area that was worn thin and faded.  Always, it seems that the bottom, fitted sheets are the first to get worn out and tear!  Then, I am left with the still good flat sheets, which I use as chair covers to protect the family room sofas from Dancer's fur!  When I was growing up, we only had flat sheets for our beds, there was no such thing as a fitted sheet as far as we knew!  Even now, one of my cousins prefers to have flat sheets, rather than fitted sheets.

I bought this sheet set  (flat sheet, fitted sheet, 2 pillowcases) from Costco.  I can't remember how much I paid for them (it was under $25, though, because I wouldn't have paid more than that!), or quite when I bought them, but, I know my mother was alive at the time and she died in 2006.  I am going to say that these sheets are at least 15 years old.  They are the only set of flannel sheets I have, so, I've used them every winter for the past 15 years. They've given me good service.  I had a decision to make:

- Do I get rid of the fitted sheet (I'd have to toss it as it is too worn out to donate; even the animal shelter wouldn't want it, as it would probably shred when they wash it.)?

- Do I, then, become a minimalist and use only the two sets of sheets I'd have left (good way to declutter the linen closet)?

- Or, do I buy a new/replacement set of flannel sheets?  (That includes thrift store shopping)

- Or, do I try to buy only a fitted sheet in a color that would coordinate with the flat sheet and the pillowcases from the snowman set?

- Or, do I try to darn the tears and mend the sheet?

- Or, do I cut up the sheet, salvage the good portions to make dusting/cleaning cloths, and toss only the badly worn out sections?

There was one fairly large tear:

Poor Snowman lost his stomach!

No, this is not the "wrong" side of the fabric - the color has really faded this much!  There were a couple of smaller tears, as well:

Another smaller tear

One of the smaller tears

What to do?  My daughter suggested that I bought myself a new set of flannel sheets.  Yes, I could do that.  BUT, I hate to toss things (well, anyone who has read this blog knows how I struggle with that!).  Plus, I hate to spend money!  I especially didn't want to buy more sheets without trying to salvage this set, first!  So, if you guessed "darn and mend" from the above choices, you guessed correctly!  LOL!

Except, the fabric is really so worn out that, even if the darning held, the sheet would just tear in another spot!  So, what can I do?  Well, patch it, of course!  I decided to sacrifice one of the two matching pillowcases for the purpose.  I cut off the seams that had been serged and unpicked the wide hem at the opening.  There were two worn out areas in the sheet (although only one area was tearing) so the two halves of the pillowcase provided patches for both worn areas. 

I sewed them in the sewing machine, first sewing a straight stitch as close to the edge as I could and then, sewing a zig-zag stitch, right round to help keep the patch as flat as possible.  The hardest part of sewing on the patches was feeding a queen size sheet through the arm of my sewing machine! 

The Patch

Patch Close Up

Now, I had the option of either cutting away the worn fitted sheet under the patches, or leaving it in place and darning the holes.  I suppose there is a way to darn with a sewing machine, but I don't have a fancy sewing machine with programmable stitches, etc.  And I wasn't going to sew back and forth with the amount of fabric I had to manipulate.  So, I darned by hand.  Using embroidery thread.  Because, I had read somewhere that embroidery originated from darning, as people sewed fancy stitches and designs to cover up their mending. 

One of the smaller holes, darned

My Helper
"I'm keeping the embroidery thread safe for Mummy!"
There are different ways to darn, but, this is the way I learned it:  reinforce the edges by sewing a running stitch around it, then, sew back and forth, catching the fabric where you can and drawing the thread in long stitches, in one direction, over the hole, and then, in the other direction, weaving in and out of the threads that are already there:

Reinforcing and long stitches


This way of darning is a type of needle weaving; you are weaving a new fabric with thread and your needle.  I am using a full strand of embroidery thread, which consists of six individual threads.  After I did that, I straightened out the outside edges of the reinforcements, to neaten up the edges:

The completed darning

This was the larger hole in the snowman's stomach.  It looks a bit like a woven box, or basket, doesn't it?  And then, I saw the faint outline of the snowman who was on the other side of the fabric (this is the wrong side of the flat sheet; the right side has been covered by the patch I sewed earlier, with the pillowcase).  Do you see him?

Do you see a snowman?

Aw, he was just a shadow of what he used to be!  Well, now, I couldn't have that, could I?  To paraphrase a song from the movie. "Frozen"..."Do you want to sew a snowman?"

Snowman in a Basket!
Yes, what you have here, is a snowman in a basket (at first, I thought of making it the basket of a hot air balloon, but thought that was a bit too much; instead, I think he's using it to go sledding!) and a woman who is embroidering on the under side of a fraying sheet and procrastinating on paperwork!  LOL!  How's that for creative procrastination?

I tried to not sew through the patch, but, I wasn't careful enough!  A few stitches got through and showed up on the right side!  So, we have this snowperson, on the right side, apparently throwing a handful of what looks like confetti over his/her head!

Whee!  Confetti!
I know my darning will hold, but, I've no idea if the worn fabric will fray in the next wash and develop new holes!  If that happens, then, I might just cut off the worn parts and leave the patches in place.  I probably should have done that in the first place, but, then, I wouldn't have had the pleasure of whiling away the afternoon, darning and embroidering snowmen!  I might have had to do paperwork, instead!  

Now that I have used up one of the pillowcases to make the patches and have only one pillowcase left, that leaves me with the question of what am I going to do for a second pillowcase?  Well, that's where the fabric stash comes in!  I had a piece of blue flannel, leftover from sewing a took me less than an hour to cut and sew myself another pillowcase.  Not matching, but that doesn't bother me.  Hidden snowpeople in boxes and others throwing confetti deserve a coordinating pillowcase with blue and white stars!  

Starry Pillowcase
My daughter just shook her head when I video chatted with her, later in the evening, and told her about my mending; she said, "Just buy yourself a new set of sheets!  Splurge a bit on yourself!".  It's not that I can't afford to buy myself a new set of sheets.  It's just that I don't want to spend the money if I can avoid it!  Sleeping on patched sheets might not be for everyone.  I just think it is being frugal and a bit of a challenge to see if I can get more use from something I have, before I spend money to replace it.  Or, maybe, I'd rather spend the money on something else - like more fabric for the stash!  LOL!  

Besides, mending the sheet is environmentally friendly as I am not sending it to the landfill (yet), I am reusing/recycling it, and I am saving money (for now).  Eventually, I might have to replace it.  But, when I do, I will do so with a clear conscience, knowing I tried my best to be frugal and environmentally friendly, first.

Today, I am grateful for:
- A sunny day
- Last night's gale didn't cause any damage except knock down a potted plant
- This morning's 2.9 earthquake was mild (although I felt it!) and didn't cause any damage
- Rescue inhalers (yes, I had another asthma attack, today)
- A fun, relaxed day, sewing and procrastinating taking it easy!

How was your Wednesday?  What would have been your choice from the options listed above (toss, manage with the remaining two sets, buy a replacement set, mend)?  What else might you have done with a frayed sheet? 


  1. I am totally with you on this one - I patched a favourite duvet cover after a visitor put her toe through a worn part! But I did a double patch putting fabric either side of the hole. I didn't have the patience for darning! I like the Japanese SASHIKO decorative darning technique. We will make do and mend, save the planet, and smile politely at our well-meaning daughters who encourage us to 'throw it away and buy another one, Mum'

    1. I think I might have to put a double patch, myself, Angela, because the fabric is so worn. Sashiko stitching reminds me of quilting designs! Both are so beautiful.

      I thought of you and your Lent challenge options as I was mending - about being able to go 40 days without buying something new. Obviously, I am not doing a Lent challenge, but there are ways in which to avoid having to buy something new, if one wants to. :)

  2. Now that was a fun mend. I love it. I, too, have a set of sheets that I just figured out have worn thin and have holes in them. I have been pondering what to do and I've thought about all of the things you did. I don't think I'm going to mend them. The fabric is just too thin to hold for long. However, I am thinking about making some pillowcases with the good parts.

    1. Yes, using the good parts to make pillowcases is a good option. Or, maybe make cat beds! That is something I am thinking of doing, if the sheet frays more! I could probably put the frayed parts inside to form the padding and sew up a little quilt for Dancer!

  3. I certainly can see now why this mending post had to be a post all by itself. I admire you for being frugal and environmentally conscious. It would not have been my first choice, but that is what makes life interesting. This HAS happened to me, so I know what I have chosen to do. Usually, I take the sheets of my bed to launder and then put them straight back on. I have one spare set that I occasionally use if the need arises. When the bottom sheets wear thin, I cut it up to repurpose or to use as cleaning rags. I have used old sheets as curtains in the past, or recovered toss cushions. A plain solid coloured fitted sheet or a plain white from a thrift shop can be paired with almost any surplus top sheet. They don't have to match. But you had fun and you were creative and you got a break from all that paperwork, and that should count for something. *laugh* BTW, your darning skills look pretty good.

    1. Susan, you were very creative with your repurposing and reusing of old quilts! I think I need to do another post - "101 things to do with worn out sheets"! LOL! I have made curtains with bed sheets, myself. I agree with you that the sheets don't have to match. Very often, my pillowcases don't match, either! I have four pillows on my bed and most queen size sheet sets come with only two matching pillowcases. I had fun, sewing; if nothing else, it will count as a leisure activity! :)

  4. I don't use fitted sheets. Actually I use one as a mattress cover, and only use flat sheets. And I always have a blanket on the bed no matter what the weather is. :)

    I'd have either repaired it or cut up and used as rags depending on my laziness level on that day.

    1. Nil, you are like my cousin; she, too, uses flat sheets, not fitted. My daughter, on the other hand, doesn't like flat sheets, so I just buy fitted sheets for her bed!

      Cutting up to use as rags would have been a good option, for me, too, once I saw how worn the sheet was! But, I was procrastinating on doing paperwork and so, nothing seemed too difficult or time consuming; I've been known to wash walls and clean windows, etc., when I am avoiding doing paperwork! :D

  5. I applaud your mending and mending skills. I would have cut the sheet into dust cloths and bought a new sheet (set of sheets) If I felt something even slightly uneven in the bottom sheet I would never be able to sleep. I am extremely aware of tactile changes and if something is even slightly askew it wakes me. I would keep the top sheet and use it sometimes. As funny as I am about touch, the visual of using 2 mis-matching sheets would never bother me.(Unless they felt different)

    1. No, patched sheets won't work for you with your sensitivity to tactile changes. I use these flannel sheets only during winter and then, I wear socks to bed, so I probably won't feel the unevenness.

  6. I think I would save some good parts for cleaning or put the whole sheet in a bag marked "Clean textile waste" and put it in a particular donation bin (there is even one at the local landfill for this) Such fabric can be used to make flock for filling.
    I think you did a really good job of patching and darning, though, and from an environmental standpoint you made the right decision. We are all too ready to toss and replace in this day and age.
    Regarding spending the money, here's another viewpoint - time is actually more important than money. We can always find a way to replace money but we can never replace time. However, you enjoyed the challenge of mending and saved the environment so it was time well spent.

    1. Bushlady, I shall find out if there is an equivalent to "clean textile waste" here, too, for future reference. It would be a good thing if there is a similar program here, too.

      Yes, you are right, we can never replace time. I don't know why, but I never seem to take my time into consideration when I do stuff to save money! Just the cost of the material! Like when I knit myself a sweater, as opposed to buying one. As long as I spend less on the yarn than on a ready-made sweater, I think it is cheaper to make one; never mind how long it takes me to knit it! I need to take my time into consideration!

    2. But like me, you enjoy knitting those sweaters, so it is time well spent!

    3. That is true. I spent a couple of hours knitting, today, while I watched some TV. :)

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  8. I’d have cut the sheet up and saved the better pieces for future use. The thin and frayed pieces would have gone in the bin. You have a lot more patience than me 😁

    I prefer fitted sheets now as shoulder problems make it difficult for me to make the bed with a flat sheet ... I find it difficult to tuck it in properly now. Fitted sheets aren’t the easiest to fold though!

    1. I might end up having to do that, anyway, Eileen - cut up and toss the thin parts. We'll see how the sheet fares the next time I wash it! Fitted sheets are very difficult to fold properly! Often, I don't bother and just roll it up!

  9. I love your creativity! <3


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