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.


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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:

Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

20 thoughts on “The Shoe Patch”

  1. I love your visible mending! Apparently it’s a “thing”, there is a book and website about it too. I hate getting rid of anything with life left in it too. Masks are definitely in demand, especially starting May 11 here (I’m in Kentucky too). Maybe you can make a little extra money with your sewing skills?

    1. Hello, fellow Kentuckian! Oh it is so nice to meet another Kentuckian on here! So glad you stopped by!

      I actually had to start charging a bit after I made the first batch of masks. I passed out the ones I made as gifts to friends who are essential workers, but then their friends wanted more and more until I could not afford to give anymore away. I don’t make much for my time (maybe $2 an hour) but it will help keep body and soul together for now. I include a warranty on my construction since I do design my masks to last for long-term use, which hopefully justifies the fact that I’m charging, but as people see how well the masks I gave to my friends are holding up, day by day I receive more orders. I’ve started keeping pre-made ones on hand so that people can pick which one they like and move on, plus I do custom orders for those who want a certain design.

      The kid is now trying to persuade me to open an Etsy store to sell my masks but I’m debating upon logistics. It’s a two-mile walk to the post office. I’ve a few ideas about how to resolve that but it will take a bit of investigating before I decide.

      If you have any suggestions for posts that may be helpful, please let me know. I’m running on adrenaline at the moment so I may miss something important. Thank you!

      1. Yes I think selling on Etsy or eBay is a great idea! I sell on eBay and just print my shipping labels from home (you get an online shipping discount) and you can schedule a USPS pick up where you don’t have to leave home. I have not done that myself but might be worth a try. The masks would ship first class for around $3 so factor that in to your cost. I bought a few fabric masks for family recently and paid $10 each with free shipping. If you need any polymailer mailing bags to send them in, I have extra I can send to you 🙂

        eBay has been a mostly fun way to make some extra cash and get rid of clutter too. It is fun to see what you can sell & make a decent amount even with all the fees!

        1. Thank you, Bethany! If I ever get caught up on the local mask orders I will definitely start brainstorming. I may see about creating items from recycled fabrics, creating a story about what I know about the original items with each creation. My auntie is gifting me the sewing machine that she used to make clothes for herself and her kids on decades ago; it needs a bit of work but I’m certain that I can get it operational. We’re also in hopes of scoring an ancient treadle sewing machine to get up and running. I love the thought of sewing on a machine that doesn’t require electricity for this project, to lower my energy usage and promote more thoughtful consumption habits.

          It will take some time to work out the details, but I’m getting a bit of encouragement on this project, to my surprise. I don’t know what will happen, but I like the thought of creating beauty out of something that others no longer consider worthless.

          Thank you so much for the tip about being able to schedule pick-ups! That will DEFINITELY come in handy when I’m ready to take the next step. You are awesome!

  2. What a great idea! You have inspired to fix the holes in the toes of my tennis shoes. Thanks for the inspiration.

    1. You are more than welcome, Tina! When I was debating over the fact of those shoes I mended, the fact that the tops were made of fabric made me unable to resist. I believe they turned out well, and I may end up putting another small square patch or something on them as pure decoration. The kid tells me that mock-repaired shoes are a fad now so why not?

  3. I checked my bean supply the other night. 8 lbs of beans… I see bean prices are going up ($3 a lb on amazon for non-organic ones???) … We had rice and beans last night for dinner and I made some apple crisp for dessert from some locally grown apples. I’m trying to start seedlings… not easy in CTs crappy growing season, but I’m trying! I’m still working on hand sewing my patchwork couch cover to replace the one I wore out. I’m freecycling things that we don’t want any more. This week I got rid of a huge bin of Barbie stuff! Triple win- didn’t go in the trash, decluttered part of my house AND someone got free stuff that she was thrilled to have for her kids to play with. 

    DS2 is looking to buy his first car. He’s looking at a 1997 GMC…  While some people might say that’s too old, I support him and am trying to help him out. It’s got surprisingly low miles and comes with full maintenance history and has under 100K miles on it…  
    I’m mending clothing now that I have time. 

    Annie, you should look into making purses to sell… It’s a great use for old jeans and I have made some patchwork ones that people really love. So you don’t even need to have loads of fabric for them. 

    Last night I broke my wireless mouse. It had been dropped on the floor one too many times after serving me well for years. Thankfully I saved an old spare one. It got new battery and it works just fine. 

    I need a replacement shower curtain liner. I want larger tupperware containers… sometimes we have to do what I call “wait in the uncomfortableness” of something. Especially when it’s not an urgent need… We have to wait for a creative solution to come up… Thrift shops are all closed here due to the virus. Normally that would be my first place to go to look for those items…  But I can’t. So I have decided to wait in the uncomfortableness of not having those things. Do I NEED them? No, not really. I just want them more than anything… so it’s not imperative. I will not go out to walmart and buy them. Instead I am making due with what I have. I don’t always have to have a spare handy at all times…  I have gotten used to having a spare for some things, like the shower curtain liner…  As for the tupperware, well I am just having to use glass jars to store leftovers and ziplock baggies, although I don’t really like to use those, it feels wasteful… 

    Some things I can’t seem to get by without. I recently had to buy a pack of sewing needles. I have not looked but chances are they were made in China…  not feeling great about that. But I paid less then $2 for them and I bought the largest pack they had. I will take care of them, keep track of them and hopefully not have to buy (hand) sewing needles again for 20 years. I’m feeling a little slowed down in my progress with Freecycle and the free sites all kind of on hold along with the thrift shops. 

    Thank you Annie for your writing. It’s inspirational and keeps reminding me why I am doing what I am doing. 

    1. Thank you for sharing your progress, Sheila!

      I sympathize with your struggles while “waiting in the uncomfortableness.” I’m looking around, watching this, and I feel a burning need to stock up on certain things myself. Just the other day I ordered several cones of black thread and some more needles for my sewing machine, and I would feel a lot safer if I had some bolts of fabric on hand to make things while this gets sorted. I am trying to resist this urge; it is not a need per se; it is my feeling of insecurity driving me. I think: what if my grandbabies need clothes? What if I grow out of my clothes since I’m stressed and eating more? What if fabric becomes harder to acquire than it is now? And what about meat? My chest freezer is full but I want so badly to call the local slaughterhouse and place an order.

      Then how do we justify buying from corporations at all, when they have shown that they don’t care about the people DYING to make the items that they sell? That one really gets to me. I don’t have the answers, but I do believe if we simply become more thoughtful with our purchases that, over time, we can at least reduce our reliance upon the corporations sacrificing people on the altars of their Money God.

      I believe DS2 is onto something by investing in an older vehicle. New vehicles – heck, newer everything – are designed to fail in a few years to force us to buy new. That’s why I’m holding on to the sewing machine my Katie gave me and why I’ll eventually invest in a spare. The newer ones have plastic gears that are not designed to hold up for long-term use. That’s also why my computers are all older machines. The newer ones aren’t designed to be upgraded or really even repaired these days.

      Hang in there, Sheila. We’ll get through this.

    2. Sheila – thanks for the info about beans. I’m in Ohio, and I’ve noticed that plain old dried beans (store brand, nothing fancy) have skyrocketed in price and are in short supply. I have several bags that I bought last month, but I’m constantly on the lookout for more. Not hoarding them, but since they keep well, I’m trying to lay in a decent supply. I’ve found several good recipes for baked beans, bean soup and red beans and rice that have helped stretch my grocery dollars. My kids roll their eyes and complain, but I notice that they eat what I make! Take care and hope you are well.

  4. Dear Annie,

    Just a short message today, letting you know I’m still alive over here across the Big Pond and – as always- following your blog.
    Loving the shoes and wishing you and yoyr loved ones the very best.
    Take care luv,

    1. Dear Trixie,

      Dried beans are becoming rather expensive (and in short supply) here as well. My kid has also been attempting to acquire a bag of corn meal for several days without success, though she did manage to snag us a bag of flour.

      I suspect that prices will continue to rise (at least for the short-term), so I’m trying to at least maintain my current supply just in case they reach the point where I cannot afford them.

      Good luck, and please keep us posted on prices in your area!

    2. Carolina!

      I was just thinking of you the other day. I am so glad that you are safe. It’s not looking very good here. While I happen to be in a state with a governor who is doing his absolute best, there aren’t enough tests to go around and, in the words of a friend who lives nearby, the people in my little area are “dropping like flies.” They messaged me to ask if I’d noticed it too.

      Middle Daughter recently had a coworker die from this; her boss tried to blame it on a stroke and claim that the Covid listed on his death certificate was a lie. I had the painful task of notifying her that this stuff is causing blood clots in major organs (including the brain) based upon a report I read the other day about the recent discovery.

      I am so thankful that you are not here in the US right now. Please stay safe. This old woman intends to stay at home as long as possible in an attempt to avoid this stuff as much as possible. Wish me luck – I’m going to need it.

      1. Dear Annie,

        I cannot tell you how sorry I am to hear all this! But truth be told: it
        ‘s not much different over here in the Netherlands I am afraid!

        Just lost my mum in law to Covid. We were not able to see her before she passed and there was no safe way to attend the funeral. And even though the coroner is absolutely certain she died from Covid, she never got tested or reported as such.
        The death count over here is staggeringly high if you bear in mind only one small Dutch province has really been hit so far. Not nearly enough tests, not enough protection gear and lies about those who are sick or passed. Sounds familiar?

        Being a (hopefully ex) cancer papient with low immunity my self, I am scared sh*tless too. Daughter just lost her job and can’t afford her rent much longer. She’s more than welcome to come and stay with us of course, but letting her in without a proper quarantine (she lives in shared housing) is a big gamble health wise.

        Don’t be fooled by your media about everything being honkydory in Western and Northern Europe luvvies, it’s madness over here as well. It is still fairly easy (though dangerous) to get groceries though, and farmers are currently handing out their crops to the poor, which is a huge, huge blessing.

        I suggest we all bloody well refuse to die from this bug, if only to be able to give our politicians and certain companies hell about it later on, ok;).

        TAKE CARE luv, and please, stay in touch!
        As always with love,

        1. I am so sorry to hear about your loss, Carolina! That just…I have no words.

          It’s horrible everywhere, and here…Trump is bored and he’s losing money so he’s ready to sacrifice us to his Money God. It makes me physically ill to think about it. I’ve never seen so many of my friends die in such a short span of time and while there aren’t enough tests to confirm WHY they died, I know the reason. And to think that people are considered less important than companies infuriates me.

          This old girl is going to do what she can to stop giving those monsters money. I don’t know how I’ll do it. I don’t know how long it will take me to pull off, but this is ridiculous. No person should ever be considered expendable. That is just wrong.

  5. Your fix is great! It is really the best feeling, knowing that you’ve saved something from the trash bin and gotten a great item for your use. I especially am impressed with how you repaired these shoes – sewing on shoes can be hard and you did a fantastic job. A few years ago, I saved up some money and bought a pair of linen house slippers from a company that seemed reputable for their ethics and the good quality of their products. The slippers weren’t cheap, but they FINALLY went on final sale and I bought a pair. Given the advertising and customer reviews, I expected these slippers to last a good long time . . . hah! After only a few months of strictly indoor wear, they were basically falling apart. To say I was pissed would be an understatement. Then, after fuming for awhile, I got out my sewing kit and my patch stash of denim and went to work. The slippers now look like Joseph’s coat of many colors, but they are sturdy again and I was so happy that I actually did the fix! Your blog posts are such great inspirations, Annie, so please keep them coming because they are so necessary. It’s good to know that there are so many like-minded people out there who are using their intelligence and ingenuity to survive tough times. Hope you and your family are all healthy and safe and keep writing!

    1. I hate to hear about your slipper experience, Trixie. Unfortunately, that is happening across the board. Even high-end companies aren’t building in durability any longer; I get the impression that they WANT things to wear out so that you are forced to replace them. I must confess that it makes me angry as well, hence my rebellion against it.

      Good on you for rebelling too! I am so proud of how you repaired those slippers. I just know that they are far more beautiful than they were originally, because now those slippers carry a part of you as well.

      Great job!

  6. Those shoes look great, Annie! I just cut off some of my little boys’ worn out khakis and denims for shorts, and am keeping the legs for some future project. I had thought a doll quilt, but now you have me thinking ‘new purse’! Keep writing when you have time, it is inspirational!

    1. I am so glad that I’ve inspired you in some small way, Valerie! Great work, to convert those pants into shorts. You just made my day!

  7. The shoe fix looks very ”van Gogh”. Reminds me of The Starry Night. Love it!

    1. You noticed! I adore Starry Night and could not resist attempting to honor the painting in some small way. Thank you!

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