Save like Nana did. Mending and fixing things.

Nana did a lot of sewing and mending,  sock darning, knitting, spinning and dying wool and more.   Mum has always been a wonderful mender and Dad has patches on his patches.   On the farm it seems like men rip something everyday on barbed wire fences or catch something on a jumper.   It was nothing to see Mum mending something every evening! 

Nan saved buttons from any item that was declared beyond saving (in which case it became a duster or cleaning rag) and had a tin of all shapes and sizes.  She had darning needles and woollen threads and could find something to work in or match just about anything.  

I am not too bad at mending, hems and basic alterations.   We have a huge advantage because we can go to You Tube or the internet for instructions on "how to...." and there will be a teacher. 

Pa was always fixing things as well.   He also MAINTAINED things.  Blades were sharpened,  things were oiled  and worked on.  Pa had a great selection of tools and jars of every sized nail and screw.    All of the things he kept are still wonderful things to have.  A good tool kit is so important.   In this area we are lucky too as we have so many online sources of instructions,  even for absolute beginners,  and amazing specialist glues and tools that Pa would be amazed at now!

There are endless savings from fixing and mending.   Increasing our skills in these areas and keeping things such as cottons and needles,  iron on patches,  woollen threads,  glues and so on could get us through all kinds of situations.  I realised that if supply chains were interrupted or the economy tanked  we would need to make things last longer,  keep them going and that this whole area could be incredibly important.   So...  I began to watch for sewing supplies in the thrift stores and collect.   Gradually I have saved boxes and tins and designated them with labels.   Some items are beautiful to me and I have them on display.   In my hunt I have found vintage French ribbons, wooden spools,  thimbles and more!

I have cottons in pretty much every colour.

I have darning wool and all kinds of needles...

There are upholstery,  leather,  curved, super long...  all kinds.   Some of them are very old.  These all came from thrift stores. 

I have a box of various iron on patches,  jars of buttons,  a small box of spare sewing machine needles and a lot of bobbins.   Sewing machine oil.   Spare globes for the machine.

There are boxes of every kind of glue I can think of including shoe repair glue.

A box of tiny sew glasses repair kits, tiny screws, parts and extra tiny screw drivers.

Boxes of all sizes of knitting needles, crochet hooks,  stitch savers...

Seam rippers, various scissors.... masking tape.

I can't list everything in the shed... but we have tarps, ropes, tow straps,  all kinds of tools,  plastic sheeting,  fencing equipment,  different sized nails and screws,  oils, fuel, silicone and so on. 

It has been a gradual process.   And I keep watching out for things that could be very useful for repairs of any sort.   As my Grandsons get older I will be giving them good quality tools and the girls will get kits too.   Then auto tools.  Sewing kits.   Tools are an excellent gift and many birthdays and Christmas I have given Andy more tools!  Any of these things cold be invaluable some day.  Some are investments but some of my "useful things" cost under a dollar. 

Mending doesn't have to be perfect.  My niece mended a lot of things and thought it was cool to use bright colours and make sure everyone noticed it!   Personally I think a little patch on something looks beautiful and shows love!  💗

Dad's patched jumpers (sweaters) carefully mended by Mum were so much part of him I have kept some.  

Nans ability to mend things was up there were her ability to get stains out!   Both of these things are legendary savers!  They will help your home economy and maybe even give you a skill with which you earn or  barter.   It is so satisfying to see a need and know "I can fix that!"  My tins of supplies lined up are an important part of my pantry.    Many mending jobs only take a couple of minutes.  It is often the gathering of everything needed that actually takes longer than doing it!   If you have a sewing kit set up it is so easy because everything is on hand.   The old saying "A stitch in time saves nine" is true...   as with stains it is often the case that the sooner you work on it the less effort it will take.   

Thank you to everyone who supported Glenda last week and all the wonderful comments!  Our Bluebirds on the Ground report is coming up from Vicky in Ohio.  xxx


  1. Sewing and mending have been a part of my life since I was about the same age as Harper. Mum cant cook but by golly she can sew anything. With five of us being the rough and tumble types, Mum's ability to mend was simply amazing.
    As a teenager, I used my sewing skills to mend bridles and saddles. This was something that I was able to do to make some extra money to purchase feed for my horse. An old cane cutter taught me how to use two needles to get the stitching just right.
    Bluey wears his flannel shirts until they are not even useful as a cleaning rag. I cut them up and the buttons all go into my button jar. I mend the clothes for all the family. I dont mind doing this as it doesnt take long to replace a button or sew up a hem. Both the kids can handsew quite well, but why bother when they know I will do it for them.
    I take up trousers and sew buttons back onto shirts for a few local widowers. I am paid for this with fresh caught fish.
    Bluey and Francis both are fantastic at mending and repairing. Katie and Jared dropped off their old dishwasher that they have replaced. When Francis gets home he is going to see if he can repair it for me. I may end up having the first dishwasher I have ever owned.
    Mending and repairing are great money savers.

  2. Try as I might I can't do a really good darn, but even my poor attempts give a garment longer life.
    I keep buttons too, I have a sizeable collection, but never have enough for the project on hand! I have even bought clothes in charity shops purely for the buttons because buttons are expensive.
    As for electrical equipment my theory is ' I can't make it anymore broken', sometimes I do fix it, sometimes I don't, but it's worth a try.
    Cable ties are high on my list of things to fix with, even if it's just a temporary repair they come in very handy.
    I constantly amazed when I read older books with what they could get repaired, umbrellas recovered, raincoats reproofed, clothes professionally dyed. We can't even get a household appliance repaired, not easily anyway
    On a good note, a home repairable smartphone is about to be released onto the market and it's a good price too (actually cheaper than just getting the screen fixed on my existing smartphone),.

  3. Dear Annabel, I have read with joy your post. Growing up, our house looked like these photos. Everything had its place and you always knew you could find something for every emergency. My aunty even taught me how to mend fine lady stockings! She was a very feminine fashionista - which of course you can manage with small budget and great creativity.
    I have a big jar of buttons taken down from clothes we can not use anymore, but for cleaning purposes or bedding for cats and dogs. I still mend all I can, being jeans, socks or knitted cardigans and I think a nice patch on the right place gives a great personality to the clothes. I have sewing kits well organized - if anyone needs something they have to put it back - *so I can find it with my eyes closed* to quote my mother. I am not as good with my husband*s tools but learning every time. I can use a hammer, nails, a mower, or a ripsaw to built fencing but not his car*s tools.
    We don*t know what the future brings but for sure having different skills would be a life saver (or money saver, or barter services for something essential). Congratulations for passing all these to your grandchildren, in my opinion it is the best legacy. Sending virtual hugs from far away, Laura_s_world from Romania

  4. Dear Annabel,
    That is an amazing collection of threads and supplies from thrift stores. I truly wish we had good thrift stores here. We have one nice one and several junk stores. The nicer one supports the homeless here, so we donate, frequently, to that one.
    This is a wonderful post to remind of the other items we might need. Thank you. This, also, triggered me to remember that I have several containers of thread and sewing supplies from my MIL's house when she passed. I still need to go through some of the items John brought home years ago.
    Tools and garden tools are on my list to review to see if there are any holes. I, recently, asked John to make a list of any household maintenance or repair items and to make sure we have them. If not, they need to be purchased.
    I appreciate these lovely posts and reminders of the past. Thank you for the time and effort that you put into helping the Bluebirds.
    With much love,

  5. I was so fortunate that my Daddy believed his girls needed to know what his boy did, so he taught us all kinds of mending around the house ... and Mother taught us indoor mending and how to refinish and repair furniture. Both my parents worked and both cooked; to be honest, Daddy was a better chef and Mother was the baker! LOL Mister wasn't raised that way and it was challenging, at first, because I just expected him to be a mender as well. He was more of a "wait until the mood hits" and it never got done. So, I just started the mending and maintenance. This past year, at 66, I painted most of our three story house alone. I have to finish it this year because I had an accident (related to cats and a rug)... I can change a tire as well as car and tractor oil, use a chain saw and tractor, knit, sew, can, repair fence and a whole host of other things that I need done on the farm. I have purchased, saved, and recycled buckets and put liners in them to hold tools for certain jobs so I just have to grab the right bucket and then I am ready to repair a fence, birth a calf or goat, or repair a screen. A five-gallon bucket will hold all you need for many tasks and are a lot easier to manage... Plus, I have a place for debris or trash that I might accumulate while working. Women should learn all they can because we never know when it might become our job to do it all or at least manage it! x matty

  6. My husband always says he is happy to do any job that requires a new tool! He has a very well stocked workshop. My Dad saved Hershey cocoa tins back when they were metal with the pry off lid. He had shelves built just for them in his workshop and there were dozens and dozens all labeled with every sort of hardware. If he saw a washing machine out for the garbage that was the most del any of the family had he would take it home and pull all the important parts off and then save them for a day when it was needed. We used to call and ask for any part we needed and he would box it up and mail it. It saved us all so much money over the years. Mom's button tin was always a favorite the ng to look through because she had so many interesting saved buttons. I have my own collection of 44 years. It is wonderful to be able to go to my cabinet and find whatever is needed to sew or mend. So many just throw out clothing now but i do what I can to keep items useful for as little ng as possible.

  7. Such a great post! The art of mending has saved our family thousands through the years. Saving buttons has proven to be invaluable. I inherited a large tin of buttons from my maternal grandmother. It has been added to as well. And if you don't have enough of one color, it is fun to do a rainbow effect on a child's garment.
    Of course, my husband has repaired everything from fine furniture to automobiles.
    Being a good steward has it's own blessings.
    💗 Leslie

  8. What a wonderful post! And today is a mending day for me as well!💚

  9. What a great idea to shop for sewing thread at thrift stores! I needed a certain color a while back and was shocked at the price in the craft store! I don’t do hardly any sewing, but sometimes buttons need replacing or a tear needs mending, so thread and extra buttons are always a good idea! I recently bought my married daughter a small sewing kit so she could do her own mending! Love how you sorted the colors of thread in boxes!
    I remember as a kid I thought my Dad could fix just about Anything, mostly because he usually found a way! I took it all for granted growing up! But, Thankfully, my hubby is pretty good at fixing things too!
    I’m really enjoying these “Save Like Nana Did” posts and hearing from others around the world, too! And I look forward to your posts every Friday! Love your blog!
    Laura C. (aka Nana C)

  10. My husband is a great saver of 'useful things.' and I can't begin to list all the times he has been able to make a repair with something he has saved. The neighbors have even learned he is the man to go to when they are looking for a part. Many times he has been able to pull just what they need from his 'stash.'

  11. When our son went to college, he was the only person on his dorm floor who could mend a seam or sew on a button. No, it wasn't pretty or perfect but his bottom didn't hang out or his shirt flap open. He was the only person on the floor with a bottle of acetaminophen or Tylenol. He was the only person with a first aid kit. Our sons need to learn those womanly arts and our daughters need to learn everything. I loved this post. I kept looking at the pictures and saw a long safety pin that I've been looking for for my knitting. They are $8 on amazon so that's why I don't have one. Keep writing please really enjoying these posts

  12. Annabel, I loved this post. My only claims to fame are stain removal wizardry and mending and minor alterations. I'm a lousy darner, but you know...I have several pairs of wool socks I darned several years ago that are still going! I have a good selection of thread from various sewing projects--more like a spool or two of each color, nothing like yours! I have very short legs and I'm a little under 5'2", so you can imagine I've shortened A LOT of clothing over the years. H'mmm, reminds me I have 2 pairs of jeans by my sewing machine that need to be hemmed.

    My husband isn't a natural tinkerer, but over the years he has repaired just about everything. I can tell you this--he does NOT like plumbing! LOLOLOLOL.

    1. Oops, that was me! Is there a way to use my name without using Google or Facebook? (Other than remembering to sign my name, which I forget most of the time). I'm inactive on FB and Google already knows everything about me...and I don't want to tell them more!
      --Maxine, aka mikemax1968


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