Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Thrift in action

There is a lot of talk about thrift at the moment, and I note that dear Floss is posting daily. Such valiant efforts are quite beyond me, but to enter into the spirit of things, I thought I would take you on a journey on one of my little hobby horses.


It used to be said that if you sat around too long in Pomona's cottage, you would be turned into a bag, but today's thrifty little idea is even easier than than that: a quick way to give yourself a warm glow of economic domesticity, and assuage the guilt you feel when you catch a glimpse of the immoral quantities of fabric and yarn you have stashed out of masculine view.

First, take your husband's shirt - preferably an old one, unless he has been particularly tiresome this week. You will note that shirts often wear out around collars and cuffs, or have mysterious indelible stains down the front, but the back provides an expanse of pristine fabric. You do not even need a tubby husband with voluminous amounts of shirting - a modest size 15 will be enough for our purposes.

Now, after thriftily removing the buttons and tucking them away into the overflowing box full of boring shirt buttons, for which you will find no earthly use except to be bequeathed to your children, you can snip and rip out the back panel (ripping is more fun), and consign fronts and sleeves to the oily rag drawer (Thrifty Hints 1 and 2).

Iron the back flat and remove any little gathering stitches, then we need to straighten the edges and cut out a big square - you might have guessed by now that your husband's shirt is metamorphosing into a hankie.


If you are feeling nice, and the pattern is not particularly fetching, you can make the handkerchief for him (I tend to keep the more attractive fabrics for myself). For a big, snorty man-size hanky you need a square of 18-20in (45-50cm), 14-16in is more ladylike, and 10-12in is moving into the realms of dainty and child.




So taking it that we are going for snorty, straighten the edges (easiest to use a rotary cutter and ruler as in the pictures), fold the fabric into four and cut a 10in (25cm) square.


Put the scraps in the compost bin - cotton is compostable (Thrifty Hint 3).

Now you need to turn a double hem* - 1cm is quick and easy, but you could always go narrower or even rolled if you are feeling skilful.



*For a double hem fold over 1cm of fabric and press, then fold over another 1cm and press again.  I find that 1cm is easy to do by eye and iron flat, thus avoiding the need for pins.


In fact, I do the two steps in one making it even quicker. This is not tailoring - all measurements can be very approximate, and I usually do the whole thing by eye.

Stitch all the way round - remembering to check that the bobbin is full, the tension setting is correct, and you are also using the appropriate presser foot. Don't ask me why I am reminding you of such simple things ... but if you stitch the whole way round with an empty bobbin case the bits won't stick together, and your daughter will point this out to you. (You will then realize that you really do need to go and get your eyes tested, and most probably have to buy some new glasses, or possibly just wear the ones you have more often.)

And hey presto! You are the proud creator of a recycled handkerchief.


I always stitch a couple of little hearts on the corners of the hankies I so kindly fabricate for my husband using the fancy stitch on my machine (just the ordinary thread, though, to remain thrifty), as a small reminder to him of how wonderful his wife is (Thrifty Hints 4 and 5).

A word of advice: cotton shirting and dress fabric is a perfect weight for hankies, but those blue Oxford shirts are quite thick and scratchy - not suitable for delicate flowers like ourselves, but absolutely fine for chaps with big, snorty noses (Thrifty Hint 6).

And on the strength of a little hankie-making, you will find that your reputation for thrift is only enhanced by returning from the shops with lots of carrier bags marked 'SALE'. Just remember to save the bags for when you want to go to the shops outside the sale time - those big bags hold an awful lot of fabric, yarn, or whatever you want to smuggle back into the house without tarnishing your thrifty halo (Thrifty Hint 7).

So that's it: a week's worth of Thrifty Hints, and it honestly took less time to make the hankies than it did to write about it. Take it from me - just start ripping up his shirts, and make the world a better place.

31 comments:

Lola Nova said...

Wonderful post! Not only thrifty but, rather a joy to read. At the moment I have two snorty sized man shirts in my mending basket needing a good re-purposing and this is just the thing. I might even get a dainty child size out of it for a napkin to put inside the girl's school lunch box. Hooray!

Florence and Mary said...

Oooh now I want to go around finding mens shirts and making lovely hankies with them!!!

Victoria xx

marigold jam said...

I'm so glad you're back Pomona I have so missed your witty style of writing - love the way you tell it!! Must admit I have never made my own hankies although I do use hankies and not tissues but I save such fabric for cleaning cloths, table napkins, lavender bags and such like if not large enough to make ironing board covers (must be cotton for this or a hot iron will singe your pristine new cover!)

As I said Welcome back!

Tabiboo said...

Hello.

I normally turn old shirts into the age old tradition of messy aprons - for the kids, but I love this new twist.

Nina x

Elizabethd said...

Full of brilliant thrifty tips!

Michela said...

Thank you for the good laugh Pomona, you're so clever and funny at the same time!
x

janie said...

Welcome back! I've been checking in on you and am glad to see you blogging again. You are so talented!

Serenata said...

Yeah, Pomona is back and in full swing! I really did miss you and your wonderful posts. Never thought to make hankies before - great idea. I will make some for my Dad - he still uses cloth hankies...not sure I will be able to convert hubby from his 'man-sized tissues' he buys. LOL

Mousy Brown said...

Oh Pomona I am sooo glad to have you back - I haven't laughed so much in weeks! I will never be able to post a thrifty pattern without a smile from now on....now I am off to do some thereputic ripping of shirts! :D

Ruth @ The Butterfly Bush Diaries said...

Hoorah! You are back!! I missed you! I had a blog change too (I was your swap letter partner last year).

Lovely to see you back blogging!

Ruth :)

Lucille said...

So glad to see you here again. I had a stack of old shirts just waiting for your instructions.

Floss said...

Oh, I loved that! What fun! You have reminded me that I made my father a silk hankie for his birthday once, when I was a teenager. I wonder if he still has it? He's quite a hoarder...

Thanks for your link and your thrifty baking comments on my post. Have you been to see Betty at Mrs Yappy Dog? She's hosting the Thrifty Week.

Greedy Nan said...

Where ever have you been? It's been an absolute era since you posted and I've missed that. Don't mind now because you're back.
Love to use a 'proper' hanky myself but not to wash other people's. Any ideas?

VintageVicki said...

Great post - have missed your humour.

Poor MrVV won't have any shirts to wear but he will have the best hanky collection!!

potterjotter said...

That hanky looks too good to use! I am no good at sewing, but I do have the tubby husband, so that's a start, isn't it?

jus said...

Lovely to see you back! x

Frances said...

Pomona, you are a very amusing lady, and your how-to-turn-a-shirt-into-a-handkerchief is terrific.

Alas, until I find myself a husband, and a husband who has such shirts, I will have to file this important info away for future use.

Perhaps filing info away is also a form of conservation? Of keeping something available until its moment arrives?

Best wishes!

anna said...

lovely to have you blogging again :)

what's that little tool you show in the hem photos, and what does it do? it looks like it might make hem turning easier/more accurate and if so then i need to buy me one!!

alice c said...

How lovely to hear from you and know that the Cottage is open for tea and chat again.

Chrissie said...

Oh you're back! I couldn't be more pleased - just thinking about you last week ... and wondering ....

Hip hip hooray for Pomona!!!

diana said...

Oh Pomona, you queen of Thrifty Tips!
You solved one of my piles!
Glad to see you posting again...

elizabethm said...

Delighted to find you posting again and now my only problem is to part my husband from his shirts! He has a system of cutting through the labels to indicate the shirt has become a work shirt and thus doesn't need ironing. This worked fine when he was younger but the older he gets the more the workshirts proliferate. Sadly they never wear out as the point of a workshirt is its dilapidation. Wonder if the promise of hankies would do it.

...Miss...Maddie's... said...

A perfect little project.
I enjoyed the line about the stash out of masculine view. How does one hide it when it becomes a pile?
Have a lovely Easter weekend.
Susan x

The Weaver of Grass said...

Hello and thank you for visiting my blog - yes we do have a lot in common as I also sew and embroider and bead. Keep in touch - I shall put you on my side bar now.

Pipany said...

Love ths post Pomona and am on a bit of a thrifty bings myself (if thrift can be binged!). Have fun x

Melanie said...

I loved reading your hints :) It is really strange, as only today I have started a group on Ravelry called Thriftiness, where anyone and everyone can post their thrifty tips about anything and everything :) Isn't been thrifty fun :) xxx

Shirleyanne said...

Good to see you back Pomona! A lovely post with yet more recycling ideas!
Brillianr! At the present, I'm in the process of making bunting from old clothes. Take care!

BusyLizzie said...

fab thrifty hints. Brilliant. Enjoy the weekend. Lizzie

Arianwen said...

Thanks for visiting my blog. Love yours. Are you totally self sufficient in your cottage? If so that is amazing. All of my husbands shirts are hanging in the living room waiting for ironing - do you think he will notice if I turn them into bags?

Karen L R said...

great tutorial!

sometimes i use the front button placket from shirts and blouses as a closure at the back of pillows.

xo

Mommy en France said...

Fantastic tutorial! Et ├ža tombe bien, as they say, given that my dear husband has just trashed another dress shirt and Father's Day is coming up. I can also practice embroidery and add his initials. Ooh, fun project here. Thanks again!

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