The Sewing Area

Cleaning out a sewing drawer, closet or room is always a special project. I find fabric scraps and come up with new ideas of what to make. I always find a few unfinished projects, disappointed that I never finished them, I come away with a new resolve to finish them. And hope they are done by the next cleaning.


May 1984

To clean out sewing drawers is to review the last twenty years of one’s life. Here are all the bits and pieces left over from the small everyday jobs and the big mind- boggling projects. Each has a special significance.

As I open the bottom drawer I see a jumble of blue denim material torn from the back of overall legs. They’ve been saved to patch worn out overall knees. How hard it used to be to keep ahead of the fine assortment of holes three active boys and one farmer could generate without even blinking an eye.

Here is some pretty pink wool from a suit one of the girls made in home ec sewing class under Mrs. Bender.

Along with most other sewing drawers in Sedgwick, a red pleated pep club skirt is quietly awaiting the sounding of the last trumpet.

This heavy white cotton lace dress was worn and loved for years. Maybe it can be recycled into another life as a pillow top.

At the bottom of the drawer is an apron made by an eight- year- old daughter in her first year of 4-H. Here is the plaid wool material from Melinda’s last try to win the county 4-H style show. As was her annual fate, she ended a finalist but not the winner. This pink quilted polyester material is left over from a bathrobe Joy made me for Christmas. Ten years later I’m still wearing it even though a new ready- made one hangs untouched in the closet.

In the next drawer is a plastic bag full of scraps from the bridesmaids’ dresses at Beth’s wedding sixteen years ago. I still am compelled to save them. They would make such good doll clothes. Now, if only the supply of small granddaughters holds out until there is time to make them.

Here at the back is a pink, double knit shift with white braid that was never hemmed. The style went out of fashion before I got in gear.

In the top drawer holding smaller items I counted: 7 thimbles, 4 tracing wheels, 33 cards of buttons, 43 spools of thread and a broken seam ripper, my most valued tool in its prime.

There is a pile of old patterns, a boxful of zippers, and a Mountain Mist roll of quilt batting.

I carefully sorted through all this plus 10 times more, items I won’t enumerate. For two days I worked, ironed all the material and sorted it into neat stacks, separated the straight pins from the safety pins and sorted out the laces and rufflings.

I felt very smug and organized and resolved to keep the sewing supplies neat for the rest of my life even if I had to give up sewing to do it.

Then Melinda stopped by on her way home from work.

“Mom, I need a one- inch white button and some seam binding to finish the shirt I’m making,” she said as she hurriedly headed for the now immaculate sewing drawers.

“Stop! I shouted, “Don’t touch a thing in those drawers. It’s all organized and neat and I don’t want anything messed up. Let me get what you want.”

As I opened the drawer I brazenly hinted for a compliment. “Doesn’t it look just wonderful,” I inquired and waited expectantly for my well earned praise.

“Oh, I like the drawers best when they were nice and messy,” Melinda replied. “Then I knew if I rummaged around long enough I could find almost anything I wanted.”

TYPESETTERS NOTE: Leftover scraps provide a good reason for family and group gatherings! With “all hands” working together on that “special” quilt or pillow, it can be a real fun time. And the end product made from pieces once worn by members of the family makes a never to be forgotten keepsake.


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