In Jane Austen's novel Mansfield Park, Fanny's sailor brother visits while on shore leave and regales the family with the rigors of life at sea. Henry Crawford, a wealthy loafer, reflects as he listens...
He longed to have been at sea, and seen and done and suffered as much. His heart was warmed, his fancy fired, and he felt the highest respect for a lad who, before he was twenty, had gone through such bodily hardships and given such proofs of mind. The glory of heroism, of usefulness, of exertion, of endurance, made his own habits of selfish indulgence appear in shameful contrast; and he wished he had been a William Price, distinguishing himself and working his way to fortune and consequence with so much self-respect and happy ardour, instead of what he was!
He toys with these fantasies for a few minutes, before someone mentions hunting, and he finds is "as well to be a man of fortune"!
Per Austen's delicate genius, she tucks deeper meaning into the syntax of her sentences than the nouns or verbs: savor the careful past-perfects in this paragraph. Henry Crawford doesn't actually want to experience privations or work hard or prove his mettle; he wants to "have done" so! In the past. He doesn't want to build character, he wants to be on the other side of that building project, looking back with self-congratulation at what a fine man he's made of himself.
I once heard a tragic tale: a man ordered an expensive winter jacket from a sportswear company, and when it came in he eagerly opened the package using a blade... which went too deep and sliced right through the front of the jacket! The company wouldn't take the coat back, since the damage wasn't their fault, so there went several hundred dollars down the drain! True to my preoccupations, when I heard the story my first thought was that I wished I'd been around to try to mend it. I reckon some latex patches on the inside of each cut edge, carefully ironed with a press cloth, would have been a good start...
I'm such a sewing geek! So when a friend buys a shirt from Goodwill with a cut in it, I am pleased to take on the task of mending it.
One of my medium-weight jackets (a nice wool tartan labeled Moss Brothers Covent Garden*, which has been very serviceable to me) lost a button on Christmas day, while I was shoveling ice off the driveway. Since another button was loose, I took the opportunity to change all three buttons for prettier ones, and took pictures along the way! The original buttons were plain black plastic shaft buttons. The new ones are bronze flat buttons with maple leaves on them in bass relief. There was even a worn area that needed patching, which makes me childishly excited. If such things interest you (or childishly excite you), read on!
*It's a women's jacket, but I don't see any women's stuff on their website now, so perhaps they no longer make womenswear.
I recently darned a sweatshirt for a friend. Since I've already shown how I darn using Single Corded Brussels stitch, bridging the hole by throwing my thread across and then covering that thread with buttonhole stitches on the way back, I decided this time to use the more basic Single Brussels stitch, no cording, to show you something different. However, the Single Brussels stitch is lighter than Single Corded Brussels, so how would I fill the hole with something approximating the weight of the rest of the fabric? I decided on needle weaving. So now I have two techniques to show you: Single Brussels stitch being used to darn, and needle weaving. You can darn with needle weaving alone, but in this example I do a very slip-shod job of it only to bulk up for my serious darn, which is the Single Brussels stitch.
"The original has pockets... if it's not too much trouble, I'd like at least one pocket," she said. And "You don't have to replace the linings on the smaller side pockets, if you don't want. They're not torn..."
It's funny: if someone has a list of requirements, I meet them, but if someone gives me a bare minimum and tells me that they're fine with "just" that, I always want to exceed their expectations. I want them to be pleasantly surprised.
I never officially learned to darn... I simply figured out my own method after I learned some needlelace. My method is simple: first I used a doubled thread to outline the hole, giving it wide margins. Then I fill this outline with a Corded Brussels stitch. Where there is cloth, I sew the Brussels stitch through it, thus thickening the fabric. Where there is a hole, I just sew Corded Brussels stitch right over it, putting a layer of new cloth where there was none. When I'm teaching someone to darn, I use contrasting thread, but generally I match the sock color.
Quilting, dressmaking, and history plied with the needle...
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