Turning a shirt collar - depression era practice

colorcrazyJune 5, 2011

My husband's favorite shirt got very worn along the fold of the collar. He was really upset at the idea of tossing it, so I volunteered to try to turn the collar. (Take out the stitches holding it in, turn it around, and sew it back on.) Taking the stitches out was tedious, but the whole process didn't take that long. Felt like I was channeling my grandmother, who always made things s-t-r-e-t-c-h as much as she could.

I am tickled that I was able to do it; I always thought it would be harder. Probably would be harder on a dress shirt - this was a summer weight sport shirt that he takes on vacation because it does not wrinkle easily.

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In this whacked-out economy when we need to "use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without" - way-to-go! For those who aren't aware, there are knit collars and matching cuffs available in the notions department of fabric stores, but you can also make them out of knit material. Great for reviving a jacket when the cuffs and collar wear out.

I've found a good seam ripper, a pair of small scissors with a hook in the tip used for removing X-stitching, and a lighted magnifying glass is helpful when ripping out (a lighted magnifying glass on a reticulating arm and a stand, or one that hangs around your neck).

Another tip: I use my embroidery floss for mending socks. Forty years ago I had spools of darning floss in a variety of colors for the task, but once again, people no longer darn socks and I haven't seen a spool of darning floss in eons.

I've earned quite a bit of "walking around money" by mending knitted and crocheted items. I have contacts at several yarn shops in the area and they send a lot of people my way. It's a dying art and I treasure all the old books I have I use as references for the process.


    Bookmark   June 7, 2011 at 7:57PM
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My hubby's Mom did this when he was a kid. He mentioned it to me early on in our marriage. I told him if he wanted it done he was welcome to go ahead.. If it was a necessary thing to do I would certainly do it but so far it has not been..

    Bookmark   June 11, 2011 at 6:58PM
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LOL, Susie! I admire your spirit. I doubt that my mother ever turned a collar and I know DH's mom never did. Normally, I would not bother, but we both like this particular shirt and he was so upset when it started fraying that he only wore it on vacation. So it was like a gift to him, which made the circumstances a bit different.

We are both still working, so the loss of one shirt normally would not have been a big deal. What tickled me was the feeling of following in my grandmother's footsteps.

Grainlady, I once brought a Ralph Lauren wool cardigan at a huge discount because one shoulder was unraveled. I knitted it back up and really treasure that sweater.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2011 at 10:16PM
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Well this is a skill I still use when needed. I learned from my mother who learned from my grandmother. In fact, my grandmothers both used this trick when raising large families on little money. I asked my mother to teach me before I got married and am glad she did. Around my house work shirts lasted another year and no one was the wiser. OK we did eventually have to purchase some new shirts but the fact we could hold off helped save us some money. Little tricks add up to savings, no doubt about it. I often lament the fact we can't get the government handout pamphlets they had during WWII - the make do and mend title always attracted me. I saw a display in a museum once and was tempted to ask if they would just turn the pages for me so I could read and take notes LOL! No, anyway to save is a plus in my book. Budster

    Bookmark   June 13, 2011 at 9:48PM
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I use knitting yarn to darn socks, I unwind the triple ply to make three strands of darning thread. My granddaughters saw my darning my egg and my thimbles in my sewing basket and thought they were strange. I used their questions as an opportunity to show them how to darn socks for themselves. I doubt that they will do much darning in their lives, but if things ever get bad, they will at least know how to do it if they need to.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 2:50PM
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Budster, I don't know if you saw this, but the Make Do and Mend book was reprinted.

Here is a link that might be useful: on Amazon

    Bookmark   August 25, 2011 at 12:34AM
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That book is fascinating, Blairgirl. Thanks!

I am surprised that Amazon allows so many pages to be read on line.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2011 at 10:36PM
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Thank you blairgirl, I didn't know that. It's always interesting to retry some old ideas. All those little tricks no one ever seems to think of anymore....Again my thanks. Budster

    Bookmark   September 1, 2011 at 2:22PM
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When I was young, I had a favorite sweater that my mom had knitted for me. When I outgrew it, she pulled the yarn out (I remember standing there with my arms out for her to wind the yarn around) and reknitted it with the additional leftover saved yarn- she did this two times!

    Bookmark   November 10, 2011 at 10:54AM
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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana

That had to have been a very special sweater. Do you still have it, or has it been recycled once again into something else? Your mom was quite a resourceful woman...


    Bookmark   November 10, 2011 at 2:48PM
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Once, not just collars but cuffs on long sleeved shirts would get removed, turned inside-out, and resown to reveal a clean, unstained, and unfrayed cloth. I think I recall that ready-made cuffs and collars could also be bought at any department store, dime store, or laundry cleaners.

Lack of air-conditioning meant that even office workers' and students' collars and cuffs got dirty. Quality of the cloth usually was better back then and could be scrubbed very hard and was worth turning to re-use if possible.

Women sometimes added contrasting material when they had to replace cuffs and collars. I suppose that made it feel like a wholly different blouse.

Almost no one had a closet full of shirts and cheap replacements as are available now. Those who did not have mending skills would even pay to have the shirt remodeling done.

If a shirt got a tear, we would do our best to mend it discretely. Sometimes we might be able to mend and cover with an embroidered initial or a distinguished applique, depending on where the rip was. Women might be able to wear a pin or crocheted rosette over the problem mend.

Worn elbows might be covered with moleskin, light wool, cotton felt, or even corduroy, especially for those who wore a suitcoat.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2011 at 6:10PM
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