How Do You Make Do?

While I submitted “OK MAKE DO” as a sketch for my master class I know it’s not really good material for that class. It’s too clunky and down home with all the scraps. I’m making it as a quilt as you go, sewing the sections together with a zigzag stitch, to use up my batting scraps. Most of the backing is an old skirt. I’m using seat of your pants quilt construction. Of course, I don’t have a residency to make do, unlike Sherri Lynn Wood.

MAKE DO 2I decided to turn this into an interactive quilt. Elizabeth Barton had suggested I add lots of ways to make do. So, I want to ask people to write me how they make do.

If you have ways you make do you’d like to share, please send them to me. I’ll do my best to use them all, though I may have to shorten them a bit. They can pertain to sewing or other aspects of your life. If I get enough responses I plan to write them on bits of fabric and sew those bits to the quilt, possibly to the outer edges. Of course, no names will be given.

I’ll start you off with one example from my kitchen. I keep pens and pencils in an empty tin that used to contain tea bags. The tin is sturdy and colorful. Best of all, it’s getting a second life.

reused tinI look forward to hearing about how you make do.


Filed under In Process

16 responses to “How Do You Make Do?

  1. Like the others who’ve commented, my primary way of making do is to use what I have. I’ve never been a stash builder–I’m more the type of quilter who either gets an idea for a quilt and buys specifically for that or, more often, looks at what I have and plans accordingly. It’s the same with weaving. I find that the choices of a fabric store or a weaving website just overwhelm me . . .

    • I hear you. Sometimes I need to pretend I’m a toddler offered a choice between the red pants or the green pants, rather than everything in the closet. But in your shoes I’d be paralyzed by the options presented by old linens.

  2. I really like hearing these make do stories. Make do is a saying that is applied to situations of scarcity, when our options are limited. My premise is that what we most suffer from is scarcity of choice and that intentionally limiting our options results in a fertile creative space. In my improv piecing workshops I encourage people to limit their fabric options to three choices to start. They don’t all do that at first but many do it later when they become lost in all the choices that improvising generates. My residency is ironic because I’m finding an abundance of discarded materials at the dump. But I set limits like I’m going to make a quilt out of what I can find today. At home my favorite make-do this is my spa. I actually have a tiny little bathroom with a regular old tub. Not so nice at all. But I put candles in there and close the door so that it steams up. Usually there is a layer of hair and dust that plugs the space under my door so it’s really sealed in tight. When I get really hot I exit the bathroom into my open live/work loft space and have a fan running with towels on the floor and I recline and cool off on the floor raised floor beams. When I cool down I go back into my sealed sauna space! I can do this since I live alone 😉 Like what you are doing here! Keep going and glad to have you and your readers in the conversation.

    • Funny how an idea will strike several people at the same time. I had a bag of cut off selvedges I wanted to use, plus my husband’s cut up shirts. Some of the most beautiful fabric I’ve painted was on old cotton sheets. A friend is big on collecting discarded books of decorators’ sample fabrics. It’s a bit tedious to peel away the paper backings, but she makes collages from the squares of often beautiful fabrics. If you’re going to use fabrics repurposed from unknown sources I’d think it would be important to thoroughly clean them. And I’m timid about using batting/filling from a landfill, though I’m fine with using the scraps from a longarm quilter I know.

  3. l looked at the Sherri Lyn Wood link — it is so interesting to see what she is finding at that dump! I will have to finish the “Shirts and Ties” quilt I started to be part of her challenge. Some of those fabrics are new, but they were leftovers from a quilt workshop, so they kind of count. So thanks for that link!

  4. I’m pretty luck in that my life doesn’t *require* making do. I choose to use stash first; I choose to cook from my fridge and pantry to use up what I have, or substitute as needed to save a run to the store. I LIKE leftovers! I could upgrade on … things … if I wanted, but I already have what I want. So as I said, lucky. But I was not as lucky that way growing up. I think the most memorable (persistent) make-do for me was wearing hand-me-downs.

    • Thanks for the pithy contributions to my make-dos. Yes, those hand me downs. Because I was tall I got to wear dresses with the hems let out and the wear line covered with rickrack.

      • And I should have mentioned how much I like the current arrangement of letters on scraps. The balance is better now, both of color and value. The letters are sharp and clear. And the tipped Os give some movement that would have been missing if they’d been upright, even with the diagonal selvages in the other letters.

      • I followed Elizabeth’s advice and decluttered. I may still change the K, but company has kept me from my sewing.

  5. My all-time best make do: on the way to my grad school admission interview, I caught my heel in the narrow hem of my polyester pants, partly ripping it off so there was a sizable loop hanging! I ripped the hem the rest of the way off and went to the interview. Good old polyester–it barely showed! (And I got in.)

  6. Barbara

    I live in the country, far from a grocery store, if I’m making a recipe and don’t have an ingredient –something in the same family is close enough. The results are always edible and sometime spectacular.
    I love that brand of hibiscus tea, have you ever tried the one with blueberry?

    • One of my favorite sections of my ancient Joy of Cooking book gives substitutes for various common ingredients. And I didn’t know they made blueberry tea as well. My husband came to enjoy hibiscus tea when he was in Macedonia, so I’m always on the lookout for it. Thanks for sending me your “make do.”

      • Barbara

        The ancient Joy of Cooking books are the best. I have mine I rescued from our house fire because, hey, the newer versions won’t tell you how to prepare porcupine.

      • Yes, there are some interesting bits in the old editions. In my copy the pages fall out at the pheasant recipes section, even though I’ve never cooked that bird in my life.

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