Just Plain Foolish

Just a chance for an old-fashioned, simple storyteller to say what needs to be said.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

The scrap bag

Oh, the joys of the scrap bag - that will sound odd, I guess, to anyone who has never been the happy possessor of one. I confess - mine is not only where I keep my *own* bits of cloth that didn't fit into a project - the bits to even up a hem, the fabric from inside the neckhole, the bit at the end of a bolt where the pattern went wrong. I've even cheated and bought (at very reasonable prices) the bits of cloth the local cloth store trimmed when evening up ends of quilting fabrics.

It's colorful, and fanciful, practical and thrifty. It's recycling from the old days. A rag bag is the place where doll clothes come from - anything from peasant to Empress (after all, how much use is left in that bit of leftover cloth from the table runner that turned out to be too long? A perfect skirt to be matched to the bit of gold satin ribbon left from holiday decorations and the trim found at the thrift store...) It's an inspiration before Halloween - Do you think there's enough of this red to make a pirate's sash, or is it the headscarf? Or maybe this bit would be the wings of a fairy if we glued it to a bit of wire... It's where little decorative, reusable bags for giftgiving come from. The tiniest scraps even can go into a small bag, for use in making homemade paper projects.

It's the starting place of quilts - where the hem trimmings from a dress might sit beside the fancy cloth from the quilt store trimmings and so on. The bigger pieces might be cut into squares for elaborate piecing, or perhaps used as they are with feathered embroidery stitches for a crazy quilt. I have on my couch a much treasured pillow that came from my mother's scrapbag - the scraps and bits that were left over from my wedding - my dress, the bridesmaids' and flowergirls' dresses all pieced together. Also on my couch is the first quilt I made, from scraps and pieces left over from making my sister and myself dresses one spring, and also the leftover bits from making the gingham curtains from my first room that I didn't have to share.

And before even making anything, there's the simple fun of rummaging through the bits and pieces - look at this blue, doesn't it look like the ocean? What about this green with the stars? Wow, this red is bright! And then laying them out, choosing colors and shapes - no cutting yet, just lay them out together, folding and layering to get the basic ideas... Maybe setting aside a few colors and bits that seem to go together particularly well - these colors look like a sky, or those like a cliff-face.

I think the scrap bag, like the button collection (yes, I cut them off clothing that has completely worn out), and the bag of stuff to be mended or repurposed (like the jumper I found at a thrift store that made a lovely apron) needs to be brought back into the modern consciousness. Energy goes into the making of that cloth, those buttons. Rather than cheating ourselves by allowing so much to go to waste, shouldn't we think about reclaiming all the use we can out of those resources?

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2 Comments:

Anonymous christine said...

Very insightful post. It reminds me of my Mother who was born in 1922. Mom still sews and mends, saving materials and buttons to use somewhere else, because that is simply what you do if you grew up during the Depression when materials of any kind were scarce, money was dear and goods were not readily available (like running across the street for a gallon of milk) when you lived twenty miles out of town. Parts, food and goods which you didn't grow, make or raise yourself (or obtained locally) had to come on the train to reach eastern Montana and it took awhile.

11/04/2007 6:48 AM  
Blogger Plain Foolish said...

Thank you. According to my mother, I am very like my grandmother who lived through the Depression - she didn't like *anything* at all to go to waste, and would hold on to bits and pieces of sewing thread - a habit I've had for a long time.

It was piecing together the bit that I'm doing for you that really made me think of it.

11/06/2007 6:39 AM  

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