May 22, 2011

Annie's Threadsaver

My husband says that I "abhor waste".  And he is right!  I hate wasting anything, It was bothering me that every time I sewed something on the sewing machine, I was wasting quite a lot of thread - at least 6 inches from the reel and bobbin, where you need to have plenty of thread so it doesn't pull out of the needle when you start sewing.  I'd read a bit about "leaders and enders", so decided it was time I did something about all that waste and that I should actually plan a project as my threadsaver, rather than grabbing something to put under the needle IF it was handy.

I cut up lots of little green, cream and apricot 4 inch squares, ruled a diagonal line on the wrong side of the cream squares and sat them next to the sewing machine in a little box. Over the last few months, every time I finished sewing, instead of pulling out my three inches of thread, I would pop two little squares under the foot, sew the seam, and leave them sitting in the machine, with the thread all ready to start next time I sewed.

Gradually, I had lots of little half square triangles and the next step was to put them in rows to make Annie's Choice blocks ... and now I have a new breakfast cloth:

Now you all know I don't particularly like piecing and I'm not terribly good at it and I find it boring, but making this project (43 inches square so almost a lap quilt) was relatively painless!  I didn't really know I was doing lots of repetitive piecing, I saved all that thread, and ended up with something that is very useful and that I really like.  It's a WIN, WIN situation!

Putting this project together started me thinking about why I detest waste. I guess my upbringing was the formative factor.  During World War II, my father was conscripted to the Army with the outbreak of war in the Pacific. He was a soldier for almost four years, serving in Papua New Guinea for most of that time:

Here is a photo of my dad which was published in one of the post-war books put out by the Australian government:

My mother spoke often of how scarce basic commodities were and how everything was rationed. I was born while my dad was in New Guinea and he didn't see me until I was eight months old when he was able to come home for a short leave.  It was a rare opportunity for a photo:

Mum had another photo taken a couple of years later.  I think the war was over by then but I know Dad wasn't able to get on a ship to get home for another 5 or 6 months:

I just love this photo of Mum and me.  It's always been my favourite.  See the war badge Mum is wearing.  It has a little bar on it with one star, indicating she had her husband serving in the war.

We were not at all well off  - never owned a car or went away on a holiday.  It was a simple but very happy upbringing. With very careful budgeting, my family managed to survive and we had the occasional treat like soft drink and icecream at Sunday lunch.  My parents saved very carefully so they could spoil my brother and me at birthdays and Christmas. Of necessity, Mum made all our clothes, curtains etc.  And so there was never any waste ,,, and that attitude became part of my very being,

 ... and I don't really wish to change who I am! 

Well, enough of nostalgia! We're going bush this week for a little holiday, so some of the long drive will be spent on planning my next threadsaver project!

Have a great week,


Christine M said...

Thanks for sharing your story Val. They are lovely photos. Very special! Hugs, Christine

sunny said...

Thanks for sharing your story, and your cute little thread-saver quilt. I hate wasting the last little bit of thread on bobbins, so I bring them up to my comfy chair, and use the thread for my hexies. makes me feel so much better!

Jeanette said...

Hi Val i love your idea for not wasting thread. I to hate the thread waste. Love your gorgeous quilt. Happy Stitching,

Allie said...

I never understood leaders and enders - but I think now I do. My machine cuts the threads pretty close to where I tie off, so I don't have that waste. That's an excellent way to get through the repetitive sewing part, my least favorite part as well!
I love your childhood photos, Val, what a beautiful family. My mum grew up during the Depression, and it affected her differently - she keeps everything, but she also spends and spends. Now I'm the thrifty one in the family, lol, and I grew up during abundance!

Enjoy your vacation!

Janelle said...

Hi Mum
I love your breakfast cloth! So you've explained why you hate waste, but that doesn't explain why I hate it too!

simplestitches said...

what a great idea...I too didn't quite get the leaders and enders, but you have fixed that! Great little quilt without the repetitive sewing to get it done...I'm going to try this one.
I too hate waste...I think too because my parents went thru the same thing as yours... it makes you thing more before throwing something out...can it be recycled, upcycled or useful in some way...
gorgeous pics of your family!

Anonymous said...

Hi Val
I found your blog through Julz (simple stitches)I love everything about quilting I just don't get the time to do any :o(
Lovely photos, My father served in New Guinea in the same war, I wonder if they knew each other, wouldn't that be wonderful if they had met during the war, Dad has passed over now God love him.
Beautiful Blog Val.

Marsha said...

Your leader and ender project is so pretty! I will have to give that a try, it sounds like a wonderful way to work on a second project. I love your pictures and family story. Thank you for sharing with us.

BJ said...

Love the family pictures and hearing your story. You are a great example of 'money does not buy happiness'. You were so rich in the love your family had for each other.

Sue from Cyprus said...

Hi Val

Thanks for sharing those wonderful photos. They are very special indeed. Your lovely breakfast quilt is just so gorgeous.

Special hugs, Sue from Cyprus x x x

Jessica said...

I really should try leaders and enders!
It was nice hearing some of your history. It is understandable that you don't like waste.

KaHolly said...

Beautiful breakfast cloth! I'm all about using my leftover and scrap pieces!! Lovely, nostalgic photos. I enjoyed them very much. ~karen

Melody said...

Love your photos and what a clever quilting idea. I always use leaders and enders but have just been using scraps then throwing them away. I'm going to use your clever idea and hopefully I'll have a lovely table topper like yours too.

StitchinByTheLake said...

The breakfast cloth is beautiful - I'm working on some thread savers too. :) Your story of your parents reminds me of my own. I wrote a short story once about my mother and her "use it up" attitude. She saved virtually everything just in case she might need it later. That came from doing without during the war and after. blessings, marlene