Categories
Simplicity Wardrobe

Old Pants, New Tailor

“Grandma, can I spend the night?”

It has been ages since I’ve heard those words from my beloved grandson. Risk or no, I could not have refused to save my soul. I reasoned that since we’d both been at home (and not exposed to potential nastiness), that we should be okay.

He was fascinated as he watched me sewing masks. Question after question was asked while I worked until he finally discovered my bag of sewing scraps.

“Grandma, can I sew on this fabric?” Grandson asked.

Once I gave permission, he announced that he wanted to make pants for his G.I. Joe doll. A few minutes later, he reappeared at my side with the creation in the top photo.

Those pants would barely fit upon his fingers.

I praised his attempt and reassured him that his next attempt would get better. The next morning, I discovered his first attempt at making a pattern:

Grandson’s second attempt

It was time to find the kid a pattern. He was obviously determined. After a quick online search, I found a basic pattern to work from. I printed it out and we went to work.

Grandson cutting out the pattern.

Since I didn’t have the doll available to check the pattern, I sacrificed a pair of my old sweat pants to the cause. I’ve widened a bit over these past few months so they’d gotten a bit tight and they won’t be missed. The stretch in the fabric would compensate if the pattern happened to be a bit small, I reasoned. We cut out the pieces and then started sewing.

Grandson sewing his first pair of pants from a pattern.

While he worked, I told him stories about how men who sew are called tailors, and how tailors used to be much in demand for sewing men’s clothing. I made an effort to discuss male fashion designers as well because I know in this area many consider sewing to be the exclusive realm of women. I wanted to mentally prepare him to know that it’s okay for guys to sew.

He was so proud of his creation!

Grandson’s finished pair of doll pants.

I am so proud of him! He did really well on those pants. I told him to let me know if we needed to alter the pattern, so the very next evening after he left Middle Daughter messaged me. She’d had to buy him a sewing kit and he was happily creating an entire wardrobe for his G.I. Joe. I gather she’s trying to locate a small sewing machine for him because she asked if I would teach both of them how to use it if she found one.

I readily agreed.

Back in the day before corporations trained us to buy their mass-manufactured garbage we used to make the clothes that we wore and the clothes we placed on our children’s toys. We made our own curtains, sheets, quilts, and anything else we wanted. We even knitted our own socks! My grandmother was so skilled at it that she didn’t even need a pattern; she could just look at an item and “know” how to re-create it at home.

I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately as I sew on those masks. We would sew what we needed, wear it out, re-purpose the fabric into quilts and other items, and then make more, so we didn’t have a lot of excess clothing. Even better, we appreciated the clothing we had, but due to the mental programming we’ve received we now look at clothes as disposable. We buy it, wear it once or twice, and then pass it on to someone else, donate it to a thrift shop, or toss it in the trash where it ends up in a landfill.

What if we changed that? What if, instead of giving money to the corporations who have programmed us to buy and buy, we started making things for ourselves to wear instead? It would cost a bit more to buy the fabric but each individual piece would have a part of ourselves in them, and they could be tailored to fit us properly. We could even select fabrics that reduce the harm to our environment by avoiding synthetics. If we wore those pieces out, re-purposing them into quilts or other items, we could reduce the burdens on our landfills even more.

I believe that I am going to do that. As I wear out the clothing I have already, instead of replacing them with commercially sewn options, I believe I may make some instead. When I mentioned that to my daughters, they were delighted. Middle Daughter wants me to teach her how to sew and Katie has already placed a few orders with the shop of Mom. As I become more comfortable with that, I do believe I may be able to take it a step further by re-working hand-me-downs and thrift store finds, which would reduce the environmental impact even further.

Time will tell how far I take it but I like the thought of reducing my reliance upon mass market goods even further. I like the thought of preventing the greedy corporations from receiving financial encouragement to treat workers as disposable objects so this is a thought I am definitely pursuing.

Have you given any thought about reducing your reliance on mass-produced goods? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Categories
Frugality Simplicity Wardrobe

A Mother’s Work is Never Done

My Katie managed to score a day off from work yesterday, so we had the rare treat of sipping coffee together as we started the day. The conversation turned to brainstorming, since a relative had called to request some masks for herself and her son; she wants to pay and I don’t feel that it’s proper to accept money from her.

As we worked out a solution that would make everyone satisfied, Katie turned somber. “I know you’ve got a lot of masks to make, but if you get time would you mind patching one of my shirts? I love it but I can’t wear it now because of the holes.”

“Let me see it,” I grumbled good-naturedly.

At some point my daughter had acquired a camouflage button down Army Surplus shirt. While it was well-made, the years had made themselves known in the form of two holes that had appeared in the fabric. Katie wanted to patch the holes but she didn’t want the repairs to be too obvious. Fortunately, she had recently picked up some mask fabric in similar colors, so I offered to use that to make patches. She readily agreed.

I spent the remainder of the morning stitching those patches upon her shirt. She was so delighted that she made plans to wear it today:

Close up of Patch #1
Close up of Patch #2

While the images above make the patches seem noticeable, when she dons the shirt you can’t even see them unless you know where to look. I was quite pleased at the fact that I was able to repair that shirt using bits of fabric that I already had on hand.

Once that task was completed, I settled down at the sewing machine and worked on the masks. After a while I decided to take a break. I felt grubby so a bath was in order. Just as I began to relax in the soothing warm water I received a phone call from Middle Daughter. She had picked up some more fabric and was on her way to my home.

I didn’t even get to soap up. I climbed out of the tub and quickly toweled off, barely managing to pull up my pants before she arrived. She displayed her fabric finds, looked through my fabric stash, gushed over her excitement at being able to have Mommy make her some more masks (“I want to wear a new one every day!”), and asked how soon I could have them done.

“Let me finish my current batch, okay?”

“But Mommy! I want to wear a new mask! I like showing off your masks! No one else has masks as pretty as the ones you make!”

I ended up compromising. I would cut out the material for a single mask and whip it up along with the current batch, but she’d have to wait a day or so on the others. At 2 am this morning I’d just finished up, so, knowing that she was excited, I snapped some quick photos and sent them to her:

One side of Middle Daughter’s Mask
The opposite side of Middle Daughter’s mask

So my butt is tired today. Once I publish this blog post, I’ve got to finish up this current batch, arrange to ship the ones to my elderly relative, and start the batch of masks for Middle Daughter. At some point, however, this old woman is going to attempt to take another bath. I didn’t even get to soap up during yesterday’s attempt.

~#~

If you happen to find this post helpful, would you consider sharing it with a friend or on social media?  Thanks!


I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

Categories
Finances Frugality Simplicity Wardrobe

The Shoe Patch

A few years ago the kid bought this cute pair of “boat shoes.” I liked the shoes so I watched her enjoy them because I knew that, in time, she would get bored of them and pass them to me.

One night I noticed she had tossed those shoes in the trash can, so I fished them out.

“Why are you throwing away your shoes?” I asked.

“They’ve got a hole in the toe,” she responded. “I wore them out so I knew you wouldn’t want them.”

I examined the shoes carefully. One little hole had formed upon a single shoe, right where the big toe rests. Deciding that they would still work for running around the house, I added them to my collection.

That was a year or so ago. The other day while I was wearing them to mow the yard I noticed that the other shoe was developing a matching hole. Since the original hole was growing larger, I realized that it was time to make a decision. I checked the soles to discover that they were still well-secured and in good shape and then headed for my sewing kit.

Two tiny scraps of denim later and I’d repaired those holes. It was a challenge to sew on the scraps with a straight needle, but I’m happy with how they turned out. Not only did I use what I already had to repair them, I used up stuff that most people would have thrown away to save something else that most people would have thrown away. Even the thread was something that most would discard – it’s so old that the spool is made out of wood!

I’m rather proud of the fact that I repaired those shoes. I saved them from going into a landfill far before their time despite the fact that they were engineered to be used during some trend and then discarded.

To my surprise, I am enjoying the fact that I am able to do things like this. With every stitch, the joy I felt at doing my part to defeat the consumerist programming we have all received was immense.

Think about it. What do we all think when we find a cute pair of shoes that we like? We go out and buy a pair for ourselves. What do we do when those shoes fall apart if we really like them? We toss them in the trash and purchase replacements.

I did neither. I fished those shoes out of the trash. I wore the heck out of them, and then I repaired them so that they will last even longer. I’ll wear the soles off of those things for sheer spite, because fuck the corporations who have programmed us to buy-buy-buy. Fuck the corporations who are now spreading fear over our food supply because they got caught allowing sickness to spread in their factories for the sake of their millions. Do you think they care that the Coronavirus could possibly contaminate our food supply? You can bet your bottom dollar that they don’t.

I spent my entire childhood believing the lie that we’re supposed to buy solutions to our problems. I spent my entire childhood watching my father complain when he had to repair things due to lack of money. To him, it was a shameful thing to wear patches on his clothes because he considered it a sign of poverty.

Well guess what, Sunshine? We’re all going to be struggling for money before this is over. Well, the average person will. I’m not so sure about the millionaires. If we continue to listen to their lies, we’ll continue to buy their stuff and they’ll continue to weather this in the Hamptons. Oh, they’ll complain because they can’t afford to hire their private jets as often but I really don’t consider that to be struggling, especially since so many of us are having to rely on food banks just to eat these days.

Every penny that we can avoid giving the corporations, every penny that we can keep for ourselves will not only help us weather this storm, it will slowly add up until it begins to hit their pocketbooks. All of those bailouts that the US government is giving to the major industries won’t do a bit of good if no one buys their stuff once this is over. It will only delay their inevitable collapse.

I am now looking at this as a challenge. I now look around and ask myself: what can I do to prevent making the rich even richer? What can I do to show people that we’re throwing too much perfectly usable stuff away? What can I do to counter the programming?

And it’s apparently working. My youngest daughter hauled in a pattern and some fabric so that I could make her two pairs of pants yesterday. She’s remembered that, while initially more expensive to make, that the clothes I make at home not only can use the fabrics and patterns that she prefers, that they last a lot longer than almost anything she’s been buying at the store. Her friends are admiring the purse I made her a while back and realizing that they can make their own purses out of the fabrics they choose while building in features that make them more durable than one can find in a store. Even business owners are contemplating the financial impact of paying over $1 each for cheap disposable masks over having a seamstress construct masks that will last for the long-term.

I know. As they’ve seen how well the kid’s masks are holding up, they are starting to come to me for quotes.

I don’t know how this is going to pan out, folks. All I know for certain is that our current state of affairs is not sustainable. We’ve reached a choice between buying their disposable crap or conserving our funds just to eat. I see no point in letting the rich get richer while we go hungry.

I’ll start on the garden when this rain stops. I’ve already planted a few items in salvaged containers that I’ve repurposed to get a head start, and Dolly Freed’s logic of raising rabbits for meat has become oddly appealing. I don’t know if I’ll go that far, at least not here, but I’m going to keep my options open as I monitor the situation.

~#~

If you happen to find this post helpful, would you consider sharing it with a friend or on social media?  Thanks!


I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

Categories
Finances Frugality Minimalism Simplicity Wardrobe

The Art of Recovering from Disaster

A friend’s house caught fire over this past summer. He was at work. By the time the firemen departed, the house and its contents were destroyed. My friend was gutted. He’d not only lost everything he owned, he’d lost his trusted companion, a pet he’d had for almost a decade.

He took some time to grieve and then started the process of recovery. He rented a new place and began anew.

We can all learn from my friend. While disasters take different shapes and forms, the sense of pain from the loss is the same. With the right mindset, we can turn that loss into an opportunity to recreate ourselves from the ashes.

I started that process yesterday. By releasing the burden I’ve hidden for almost a year, I wiped the slate clean.

I had a good cry and then asked myself “what do I do now?” I found the answer in my friend.

It’s time to pick my butt off the floor and start over.

I knew that this was coming. I fought against it. I tried every trick I knew to how to try in an attempt to avoid my reality. I didn’t want to sacrifice the beliefs I’d held for a lifetime. I didn’t want to surrender to the madness. But ultimately I am a survivor, so I refuse to let what I learned defeat me.

I have no power to change the world. I have no power, no authority to do any damn thing but eat and shit and die.

I can work with that.

You see, I may not be able to change this world but I can change myself. I may not be able to change this world but I can control the choices I make and the things I do. I may not be able to change the world but I can go into the long night content with the knowledge that I did what I could.

“If you find yourself confronting an unjust and corrupt system, it is much more effective to learn its codes from the inside and discover its vulnerabilities. Knowing how it works, you can take it apart – for good.”

– Robert Greene, The 50th Law

I have fifty years of experience in how this world works. Corporations convince us we are lacking to persuade us to give them our money. They use the money we give them to further their own purposes; their purpose is to make the rich richer by draining the rest of us dry.

To stop that scenario is simple. To stop the corporations from draining us dry we have to remove the source of their power.

The only way to remove their power is to stop giving them money.

The milennial generation stumbled upon this truth some time ago. They stopped giving their money to support certain industries. When those industries felt the blow to their pocketbooks, they began to scream with pain. Do a search for “industries milennials have killed” if you want to read the details.

I may be old and uneducated but I’m smart enough to see from the evidence that the process works. I’m humble enough to learn from their experience so I have chosen to follow their example. I may not be able to execute it perfectly but if I can arrange to give the monsters less, I can help starve them out in some small way.

I’ve already began that process. Instead of following their instructions to buy new clothing, I have chosen to use what I already own until it falls apart. Instead of following their instructions to discard the excess clothing I have thanks to the little washer I own, I placed the items in a box for future use.

The longer I can go without buying clothing, the less I will feed the monsters. Even better, there will be less clothing entering our landfills. That is a wonderful bonus.

For far too long I’ve fallen for the lie that I needed to look and dress a certain way. The only reason they want us to look and dress in a certain way is because it makes them richer. In the end, as long as we’re clean and our bits are covered, the details only matter to them.

We have a surplus of clothing in our thrift shops. We have tons of clothes rotting in landfills because of their programming. I may not be able to change that reality but I can refuse to participate in it.

Is there a way you can stop feeding the monsters? Please share your stories in the comments below.


It is hypocritical to run a website about buying and living on less while begging your readers to buy your crap so I refuse to do it. That said, I live on the money I receive from book sales, so if you can find it in your heart to pitch in I would be immensely grateful.

I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

Categories
Decluttering Frugality Simplicity Wardrobe

The Sock Rebellion

I cannot remember the last time I purchased socks. One day I realized that I owned far too many pairs and decided not to purchase any more until the ones I owned wore out.

It is finally starting to happen.

This morning I grabbed a pair out of my bin to discover that both socks contained holes. As I examined them I realized that I could read my computer screen through the heel of the pair.

It is finally time to let them go.

It is amazing to think that I’ve owned a pair of socks for close to a decade. If a pair of cheap socks will last that long, why do we so frequently purchase new?

More importantly, what else are we discarding before it reaches the true end of its life?

This makes me wonder just how long it will be before I wear out the clothes I currently own. In the months since I placed a moratorium on clothing acquisitions, my wardrobe has barely budged.

How much of what we’ve been spending on clothes has been a waste of money? I mean, if a pair of socks can last a decade, how long will a tee-shirt or a pair of jeans hold up if we resist the urge to replace them?

Heck, I’ve got a zip-up hoodie here that I purchased back in the early 2000’s and it’s still going strong.

So why are we still buying clothes if our closets are overflowing and the ones we already own are still functional?

It’s definitely something to think about.

What’s the oldest item of clothing that you own and still wear? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Categories
Success Wardrobe

The Difference a Shirt Can Make

One of the hangups I have with my goal is the fact that I cannot conceive of possessing a lot of money. The thought of spending or gaining a lot of money makes me choke.

That’s what happens when you’ve always been poor.

And that’s okay. I’m aware of my limitation. The burning question is how do I overcome it?

My daughter helped me come up with a solution. She loves to visit the new stores that are opening in our town so one day when we were both off from work she suggested that we grab a bite to eat at a local restaurant and look around.

I felt my pulse quicken as soon as we stepped into the very first shop. It was a boutique; every single piece of clothing in there made me quail when I looked at the price tag. How could people afford to pay so much? I thought as I looked around.

That was when it hit me. I could afford clothing like that as well. If I applied minimalism to my purchases and treated them well, the items would last for quite a long while. Just a couple of shirts, combined with a few little trinkets, would give my wardrobe a completely new look.

Even better, they would make me feel wealthy.

I noticed my mindset shifting as I admired the items on display. I could feel the difference in how the fabric played upon my skin. A far cry from the handmedown tee shirts that I’m accustomed to wearing, the items felt luxurious as they started speaking to me.

They told a story of wealth, of success. Of looking like the person I want to become. What would be the harm in saving up for a shirt, I asked myself as I began to admire them. As I looked, I discarded the trendy items in favor of more classical ones.

I checked out the prices on the pieces that would look tasteful regardless of the year or the season.

I imagined what I would look like wearing them as I walked down the street or worked on this website.

I reminded myself of the stories I’d read about paupers who saved up for nice wardrobes and used them as a tool to make the right connections.

I could do this. I could save up the money to buy the occasional shirt, I realized.

I remembered reading in the Napoleon Hill book The Law of Success about how upgrading one’s wardrobe could improve your whole outlook on life. Looking successful attracts success.

I wanted to look successful.

I calculated my budget in my head; I couldn’t afford to buy one right then. Maybe next month, I thought as I moved to place the shirt back on the rack.

“What are you looking at?” my daughter asked as she browsed nearby.

I showed her the shirt. “I’m going to see if I can buy it next month,” I shared. “Do you think it suits me?”

“Yeah, I do.” She plucked the item out of my hand and examined it. “It goes well with your skin tone,” she remarked.

The conversation moved on to the items she planned to purchase. She wanted a new outfit for when she went to attend her fiancee’s graduation from BASIC training and had selected a few to choose from.

I helped her make a decision. As she headed up to the counter, I noticed that she still had the shirt I’d admired in her arms.

“You forgot to put the shirt back,” I pointed out helpfully.

“No, I didn’t,” she replied.

To my absolute shock, she bought the shirt for me.

“Why did you buy me the shirt?” I asked as soon as we left the store. “You didn’t have to; I was thinking of saving up for it.”

My daughter smiled. “Remember all of those times when I was a kid when you put back stuff to buy things for me? This is my way of saying thank you. You gave up a lot to spend time with me and I wanted to show you that I appreciate it.”

I blinked back tears as we continued down the street.

I wear that shirt with pride now. Every time I don it I feel wealthy. I carry my silver round in my pocket, hold up my head, and tell myself that I am a success.

Since that day my daughter has gifted me with even more trinkets. She’d noticed the silver I carry and decided to add more to my collection.

First, it was a pair of earrings.

Next, she surprised me with a silver Yggdrasil pendant since the founding father of my mother’s family had been discovered as a baby beneath an ash tree. She even purchased a small container of pure silver to add to my collection.

I’ve added a couple of trinkets to my collection as well. I found a vintage ring on eBay some time back and today I allowed myself to splurge on an inexpensive bracelet that matches the pendant my daughter gave me. It’s not silver but it makes me feel wealthy just the same.

To my surprise, people treat me differently when I’m wearing that shirt around town. I can’t put my finger on it but it’s like they treat me with more respect now. Instead of dismissing me even the waitresses seem more attentive.

They actually seem happy when I walk in the door.

It puzzled me at first until a friend helped me realize the difference when I saw him walking through town. I waved but my friend didn’t respond.

Thinking that he hadn’t seen me I approached him for a hug. It’s been a tradition in the years that we’ve known each other to always say hello.

“Oh, wow, I didn’t recognize you!” he gushed as he wrapped his arms around me. “You look like a completely different person.”

Come to find out he’d noticed my wave but had been certain that it hadn’t been directed at him. He’d never seen me “dressed up,” so he hadn’t even realized it was me.

Clothing can make a difference. Just a simple shirt completely changed how I am perceived as I walk through town.

I am going to play with this as I move forward. I intend to look through my wardrobe and select dressier items to wear before going out in public. I’m curious to see what will happen.

Have you ever noticed a change in how people treat you based on the clothing you wear in public? Please share your stories in the comments below.