Dr B and Boy have recently taken delivery of some smashing new cycling gear. It’s woollen and therefore requires special laundering: you can’t do anything as enviromentally friendly as cold wash it and you can’t use the cheap laundry detergent that Dr B insists on buying – yes, he does the shopping; do you have a problem with that? – and you can’t just chuck it in the machine and let it fend for itself. Oh, no. It has to be warm washed. There must be no enzymes and no bleaches. And bags. It has to be laundered in bags.
I have no fundamental problem with any of those constraints although my income has to pay for all this and our energy bills are high enough already. Doing warm washes is a luxury, even though I’d often prefer that option. All the same, you can’t stand on your dig when a couple of days’ wages have gone out on buying some new, warm gear for winter cycling. Even so, it’s their cycling gear, ergo their responsibility. Dr B did at least make the effort to go and buy some mesh bags, which was appropriate and sensible because those we already had were ageing and, well, you know, the zips not what they once were so that things staying in the bags couldn’t be guaranteed. However, two small mesh bags for two pairs of long knicks and four jerseys? Not close. (It’s my belief that this inability to assess size is a result of the same error of parallax that makes all blokes unable to tell the difference between six inches and 12; but that’s another tale.)
Late at night, trying to put a load of laundry to do its stuff so I could hang it out first thing in the morning (or last thing in the evening), I rapidly discovered that I did not, in fact, have enough mesh bags for the job. No, that’s not quite true. I did have enough bags. I did not, however, have enough of them with functioning zips. Action was required. While I view some of the sewing I undertake as “rescuing” most people would probably call it “repairing” or “mending”. Whatever you want to call it, it seems to me that it’s like most sewing, something you should not attempt when you’re already tired.
I had elected not to rescue a previous mesh bag whose zip had given up the ghost. I probably should have because that had been a reasonably good bag. In any case, at about 10.30 with something of a headache which was probably partly the result of fasting for blood tests, I realised that I still had one large, not-so-good mesh bag with a completely busted zip that, for some reason, I hadn’t yet discarded. Necessity being the mother of invention and all that, I dragged it out of the “what can I do with this?” pile and decided that I could probably get a frankenbag out of it if I tried hard enough.
I cut off the zip. That bit was easy! I trimmed the edges so I’d be working with a reasonably regular shape. That wasn’t hard. I decided that, given the flimsiness of the fabric with which I’d be working, a touch of reinforcing might be a good idea. It was a good idea. I found some cotton tape, pin-basted it and sewed it along the new top, just where the zip would go. It was neat and I could see that it was going to provide a good foundation for the zip. I had a new zip (I do salvage them when I’m tossing old garments, but I also keep a couple of packets of cheap ones and, given the nature of the work I was expecting this one to perform, I thought a new one was a wiser choice). It wasn’t quite long enough, really, but it would do. So it did.
I pinched the ends somewhat, to provide a good, partially hidden closure, pinned carefully, talked nicely to my zipper foot, sewed as slowly and neatly as I could – and ended up with the zip sewn on the wrong side. How could I do that? How could I have done that! I don’t know. I couldn’t really have told you then. It was late at night (probably close to midnight by then, what with one thing and another having interrupted my efforts) and my brain doesn’t function well at that hour. That’s my excuse, anyway and it’s true that my record of sewing things the wrong way round late at night is impressive; it mostly involves neckbands or collars although there was a memorable amount of bias tape that had me very busy with the seam-ripper.
Unlike the beanie seam (or the neckbands, collars and bias tape), I felt no urge at all to unpick the zip and correct the mistake/tidy up the mess. Right side or wrong side? It’s a laundry bag, for throwing things in to protect them in the wash. The zip works. The bag won’t come adrift during the wash. Dodgy looking? Who cares? I have some priorities, you know! So it’s still like that and doing a fine job, I must say, of keeping the smashing new cycling gear in its place during the wash cycle. I’d like to think that if I have to rescue any more bags, I’ll do a better job with the zip but there are no guarantees.
And the beanie? It sill isn’t finished either. I decided my efforts in that direction should wait for a clearer head and better light.