Sunday, April 11, 2010

Weekend Project:Waste Not, Want Not

Waste not the smallest thing created, for grains of sand make mountains, atomies infinity.
--E. Knight

I think I grew up in a pretty typical middle class American family. We didn't have a lot of money - the stuff that many kids today seem to think is "necessary" continues to shock me - but I certainly never experienced true poverty. Scott and I have been doing well for years now, and so it's been a long time since I've pinched any pennies. But I don't think of myself as excessively wasteful. Ana, having grown up experiencing true poverty, sees things in my life a bit differently... And that sets the backdrop for this weekend's story:

A few weeks ago, Ana bought fabric to make baby clothes as gifts for 3 friends who either have newborns or are expecting. After cutting out the pieces for the onesies, she had some fabric left over. It wasn't a lot - I would have been tempted to throw it away. But she didn't want to, and quickly pointed out that her pattern included pattern pieces and instructions to make baby "shoes".

So, we cut out fabric to make one set of shoes to accompany each gift. There were still some small scraps left, and I would have DEFINITELY thrown those away. In fact, I tried to, but Ana quickly saved her leftover fabric from the trash can and announced that she could make even more baby shoes to send to her sister (a midwife in Mexico), to give away to other women with newborn babies.

Saturday we made up our own 2-person assembly line and cranked out 3 pairs of baby shoes to be mailed to Ana's sister in Mexico.

You wouldn't believe the emotional angst she suffered over the decision of whether the penguins on the toes should face inwards (and be right side up for the baby to see) or outward (and be right side up for the mother to see)! Ultimately she went with the mother, figuring that a 3-month old baby wasn't likely to appreciate the penguins... ;)

The penguin fabric was wider, so we got 2 extra pairs out of those scraps and only 1 extra pair from the Curious George fabric:

Here's a side view. You can see that each bootie is made up of 3 pieces and a bias tape casing for some elastic. You actually cut each of the 3 pieces 4x - 2x per shoe - a complete set for the outside and a complete set for the facing.

The one thing I didn't like about this pattern was the fact that they had you assemble both tops (outside & facing) and then assemble both bottoms (outside & facing) BEFORE attaching the bottoms to the tops. Thus, you have the seam allowance "showing" on the inside of the bootie:

Why in the world wouldn't they instruct us to completely assemble the outer bootie and then completely assemble the bootie facing, and then slip the facing inside, before sealing up the top with the bias tape? That way, all of the seam allowances would be completely hidden inbetween the 2 layers of the bootie...

So, returning to the topic of not wasting anything, Ana's frugality and my more nonchalant attitude came head-to-head on this project. First, when I tried to throw away "scraps" that she thought were big enough to use (and she was right!), and then with the bias tape. I quickly wrapped the bias tape around the top of the first bootie, added a generous portion for the overlap at the end, and then cut - and ended up with maybe 1/2 an inch extra to be cut off and thrown away.

Ana saw the leftover and thought it was wasteful, so decided she would cut the rest of the bias tape bindings. I was busy with something else and asked her to wait, but she didn't. Unfortunately, she didn't realize that she needed some overlap and so she didn't cut her piece long enough and we couldn't use it. She was pretty upset that, in trying to avoid waste, she ended up wasting even more than I had. I stood there looking at maybe 20 cents worth of bias tape and just couldn't really understand why she was so upset.

Later on, she tried to explain it to me. I could tell that she had put a lot of thought into how to explain it in a way that I would understand and that wouldn't offend me. She started by saying that she knows that I like to use my money to help other people. Then she said that, if I was more careful not to waste anything, I would have more money that I could use to help people. Her example was that if I only needed half an onion for one dish, but I saved the other half and used it later in another dish, then I wouldn't have to buy a second onion and that would be money saved.

You know what? For such a young woman, she's quite wise...


On the weaving front, I finished the second-to-last set of Christmas kitchen towels! Only one more set to go! I still have a very good shot at being able to give them out in May - before they are officially 6 months late! ;)


Parting Shots:

Remember this picture from last fall of our baby Oliver, snuggling up to his newfound buddy, Sammy?

Well, guess who is growing up?

And to all, a Goodnight! :)


BConky said...

Beautiful story. Sounds like she has a lovely spirit. You kitty is adorable.

Julia said...

We should all take heed to the lesson this young lady taught you!!! Thanks for sharing!!

Becky said...

I think there's really something to be said for trying to get as much out of your fabric as possible! Great story. :)

meredithp said...

Thank you for posting that story. Gives us pause, doesn't it?

Cutest kitties evah! Boy the older one is starting to look tiny ;-)