But seriously, folks: I had four pairs* of underpants with tears along seams. Side seams are especially susceptible. As the holes got bigger I’d stop using the garments.
But since I have enough for only about nine days, it bugged me that nearly half of my unmentionables were out of service. Naturally I kept vowing, “I’m going to fix those,” and just as naturally I kept putting it off.
Sometimes I’d wind up wearing the decommissioned drawers anyway due to laundry-day timing, and the stressed seams didn’t always appreciate it.
That bugged me even more. But as my friend SonyaAnn would say, it clearly it didn’t bother me enough. When it did, I’d do something about it.
Saturday was that day. I got out my sewing basket and spent just under half an hour repairing those seams. That included time to rethread the needle once.
Was it worth my time?
Some would say “nope” because new underwear is (relatively) cheap. Four sets of tighty-whities would set me back about $10.
Given that my freelance rate is higher than $20 per hour, some people would consider that sewing session penny-wise and pound-foolish.
I’ve heard the same argument applied to couponing, gardening, cooking from scratch and making your own gifts. All I can say is, “Do you naysayers get paid for every single minute of every single day?” I sure don’t, and I don’t know anyone who does.
Getting full use
The argument would have some relevance if I’d been burning the candle at both ends for days on end yet decided to stay up late sewing in order to save a few dollars. It took me a long time to learn that a strategic pizza is worth it sometimes. But I did learn.
Then why sew my scanties instead of buying new ones? Two reasons:
I’m trying to keep expenses very low to compensate for less income and also to save money for a major trip. In September I’ll be speaking at the Financial Blogger Conference again, and then flying from Charlotte up to Philly to see my dad. Might also tack on a side trip to New York for face time with editors; the last time I did that, I came home with a four-figure writing assignment.
Sure, $10 isn’t that much. But a sawbuck here, a sawbuck there and I’ve spent the money that could have paid for my NYC hostel accommodations.
Besides, I also like the idea of getting full use out of manufactured goods for reasons of sustainability. Yes, I just talked about taking a plane and heaven knows that’s not eco-friendly. But the more use I can get out of clothing, furniture or even flip-flops, the further other resources will stretch.
Please don’t feed the landfill
That’s both my resources and the planet’s, by the way. You can’t beat cotton clothing for comfort and breathability, but growing the fiber takes a ton of water and pesticides. Next add in the diesel for the tractors and harvesters, the energy it takes to gin and spin the stuff and then weave it into cloth and package it.
Finally, tot up the environmental cost of transportation – likely across the water, thanks to globalization – and you’re talking a darned big environmental footprint. Thus I resist buying stuff that’s easy to throw away. A wool sweater will last a lot longer than a cheaply made acrylic ones. (And it has to be irreparably worn-out before I’ll pitch it.)
That’s the same reason I shop at thrift stores and yard sales: The more chances at usefulness an item has, the more time before it heads to the dump. (And yes, those two venues are much more affordable than retail.)
To be clear: I’m not judging those people who don’t make minor repairs to their bloomers. Bu it works for me.
I’m not much of a seamstress, but there’s something calming about minor sewing jobs. That’s probably because my thoughts focus on just one thing (the torn seam) instead of flying off in all directions. No deadline issues, no to-do lists — just me and a needle.
How about you, readers: Do you sew your underwear? Why or why not?
*Why do we call it a “pair” of underpants when it’s just one item? I still don’t get that one.