Friday, April 28, 2023

The Sewing Kit

Sewing, specifically hand sewing, is an indispensable skill that everyone should have. Now, I'm not talking about making clothes; that's an entirely different level of talent. However, the ability to repair a rip or tear in clothing and equipment (or skin, in the worst case scenario) is extremely valuable in day-to-day life.

Back in the mists of time when I was young, hotels, airlines, and other businesses would give away small sewing kits to their customers. These weren't big or complicated, and the most basic ones usually consisted of nothing more than a small case or card with several colors of thread and a few needles. I still have some of them, including one that lives in my travel toiletry kit.

Marriot Hotel giveaway and WWII reproduction sewing kits

Known since the 1700s as a hussif (a corruption of housewife), sewing kits have also been a part of military personal gear throughout history. Whether standard issue or put together by the soldier, a loved one, the Red Cross, or another beneficial organization, they have accompanied a great many soldiers and sailors throughout history. I still have a kit from when I was involved with WWII reenacting that I used for display purposes, although it is perfectly functional. The different militaries of WWII had their own takes on what was a proper sewing kit for their soldiers, such as the US, Britain, and New Zealand.

My wife is a much more accomplished sewer than I am, and she's one of those amazing people who can actually make clothing. She made nearly all our Renaissance Festival garb, along with most of our Cowboy Action outfits. Her main sewing kit is, as expected, considerably more involved.

My wife's sewing kit
(note the FABRIC ONLY scissors)

However, when we travel she will put together a more specifically appropriate and compact kit depending on expected need. When travelling to a Ren Faire, for example, her kit will have the usual needles and thread, along with some heavier needles for bodices as well as rawhide cord for vests. When going to Cowboy Action events, she adds spare buttons appropriate to our costumes.

A small travel sewing kit can take up very little room, but is beneficial well beyond its size. An empty Altoids tin makes for an excellent travel kit container, as it can easily contain a small piece of cardboard or cardstock to hold needles, a few safety pins and straight pins, some buttons, another piece of cardboard to hold a selection of thread colors and weights, and even a small pair of folding sewing scissors.

The ability to make minor repairs to clothing now may save us from having to make a major repair later. Or, as the old saying goes, a stich in time saves nine.

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