April 14, 2021

HOLDING ON AND REPURPOSING

It might be a family trait—continuing to wear favorite clothes (or at least keeping them in the closet) long past their “expiration dates.”  Although I’ve cleared out my closets fairly often, I confess to having some things that are hopelessly outdated or a size that no longer fits.  Somehow being at home during the pandemic year made me more aware of how long I’ve been wearing certain clothes!  

When Patrick was 3 or 4, he had some avocado green short pants that were hand-me-downs from friends. These pants became his absolute favorites. Heather and I teased him about them, pulling other options out of the dresser.  But he persisted for several seasons.  Finally, they were really too small and I tossed them in with other outgrown clothes to be donated.  Patrick spotted them just in time—and rescued his green short pants!  If I’m not mistaken, one of his sons may have actually donned them a few times. 

Later, Patrick was pretty well known for his t-shirt collection!  He had quite a few from summer basketball camps at Vanderbilt or Lipscomb, and from several races he ran (one sponsored by Providence Hospital and even the Cooper River Bridge Run).  Others were from various sports teams he played on or favorite concerts.  Like the green shorts, they were still around even after he’d outgrown them or they were too ragged.  I tucked them away in a storage bag and wondered what to do with them.

After he went away to grad school, I happened to see a photo in a magazine about a quilt made from t-shirts.  I clipped it and consulted with Sarah, a church friend who was a seamstress and quilter.  She’d never heard of such a thing, but said she would create one for him.  I took her the bagful of old t-shirts, she selected as many as would fit onto the quilt squares and the photo shows the result.  She used a red print fabric for the border and a solid black backing. 

Maybe we want to hold on to our t-shirts, green shorts or other old favorite clothes because they are tangible reminders of cherished life experiences. Mother made many beautiful coverlets and quilts (as well as a Victorian Christmas tree skirt) in which she used scraps from our favorite clothes (many of which she also made). Quilts are storytellers.

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