Friday, May 23, 2008

The Humble Sewing Kit

I have a humble sewing kit. Humble because I am not a seamstress. Never sewn a thing. OK, once I hand sewed my first (and last) hem for my women's choir black skirt. And that was hardly a hem at that. But when you're in college and you have no money, you are more resourceful (do I hear a resounding, YES?!). Sure I've sewn buttons back on shirts and hand stitched seams that were coming apart, but I have never sewn a piece of clothing from start to finish. Ever.

Since we buy most of our clothes from second hand sources (thrift stores, garage sales, hand-me-downs, gifts, etc.), being able to repair small things to make things wearable again and look nicer is important to me. So I have some basic tips on how those of you (who might be like me) can put together one of your own. Use it for everyday and when you are away, take it along. It will prove useful.

My sewing kit is a very basic one right now. It contains: 3 spools of different colored thread, elastic, and sewing needles. With the addition of the scissors, which doesn't fit into the container, I'm set to do buttons and repair seams.

My thread is black, tan/brown and cream/off white. I picked these because for us, these are the least number of colors that will do the job for almost everything we wear. If you have a lot of red in your closet, for example, then you might have some red thread. You get the idea.

The reason I have elastic in it is because I was keeping some for my daughter's hats. When you live where the sun is hot all year round, shade is essential for this fair skinned blondie of mine. I sew it on opposite sides to go under her chin so the wind won't carry it away.
Another thing I do is to keep all three colors with a threaded needle wrapped around the spool. That way it's always ready to go. Have you ever been in a hurry and were ready to go out the door and...oops...your shirt has a button missing and there's nothing else to wear? Well, as long as you have the button, you can just get your handy dandy sewing kit out. It'll take just a couple of minutes and will save you some embarrassment. No need to thread a needle with the appropriate color thread, knot it and all. I always keep the needle threaded and knotted at the end for the next time.
When I move back to the states, I will have access to my small scissors again that fit into the kit and a thimble is handy. Right now I keep extra buttons in a drawer nearby, but 3-4 different ones in there would be good as well, for the times when the button is nowhere to be found. If you have a needle threader from an old purchased sewing kit, you can put that in there too (It took me a while to realize what the thin round aluminum metal thing with bent wires were for! To thread needles! LOL).

I have found that garage sales and thrift stores are good places to find everything I need for a sewing kit. When my grandmother died, she left lots of thread and misc. sewing items as she was a wonderful quilter and paid seamstress. I picked some out that would be useful to me and left most to my aunts that were seamstresses in their own right. (I think I didn't get the sewing gene, because it was my father's mother. Since my father never took up sewing...Oh, well.=)
I have another tip for a travel size sewing kit. You know those matchbook type you can buy in stores? Well, why not make your own?
Things you'll need: Thin cardboard that can be folded (not corrugated), some scrap paper, tape, sewing needles, 2-3 different colors of thread (not on the spool). However many colors you need, have that number needles threaded with your different colored threads. The other option is to have 1 needle and a few colors thread and thread the needle when you need it. You might want to have at least 2 needles in case you lose one.
Directions: You can fold the cardboard in half for a card style kit or in thirds. I gleaned mine from a memo pad. The paper you want to fold then close to the fold, then "sew" your needles in through both upper and lower paper layers.

Then open the side opposite the fold with the needles still in the paper (I took my threaded needles and replaced these below) . Then trim the paper to the finished size you like.
Next make mini flat paper "spools" by folding paper, then wrapping your thread from the threaded needles right onto them.Next, you'll want to tape your paper onto the cardboard. I pushed the needles out of the way so I could tape down the paper.When you're done taping, push the needles back into place. With the addition of a small scissors (or how about some fingernail clippers to cut the thread?), you have your finished travel sewing kit.

This would be a basic travel sewing kit. You don't have to make it exactly like this, but this gives you a basic idea and you can go from here, adding your own personal touches.


Mom2fur said...

This is a very cute and practical idea. I do sew, so I've got the gamut (from pins to a sewing machine) but I'm always trying to find new things to do. I like the way you keep a threaded needle with the thread around a card. I like to have threaded needles on hand, too, and this seems like a great solution to them tangling up.

Tara said...

What a cute idea! Thanks!

Ginger said...

Now thats a great idea thank you so much for sharing your ideas with us!