Monday, 27 December 2010

Frugal guilt

by Throwback at Trapper Creek

With the new year about to begin, the yearly urge to purge is coming on. Always with good intentions I bolt out the gate in January and fizzle out in a month or two. I want to be organized and finish all my projects, and sail through the year. This year will be that year, I hope... .

Another thing that comes with the year end is the self-assessment we all do. Did I live up to my goals and ideals? Or can I do better? I always think I can do better. But one of the worst areas I struggle with is frugal guilt. Growing up with older parents, who were adults during the Great Depression, I grapple with being frugal enough. As you can see, I am cutting the buttons off one of my husband's work shirts. Handmade, with whimsical pocket flaps and buttons I had already recycled, I am now cutting off the buttons, again, for the button jar. My husband has done his job, he has worn this shirt until it is so frayed, it won't do too much duty in the rag bag. In this case, I'm doing pretty good.

Other areas of the fabric nature, not so good. See, I grew up in the material culture of making all my clothes because it was much cheaper than buying store-bought clothing. I started sewing at age 8 or 9 and haven't stopped. I admit I was a very frustrated seamstress, but once I started quilting I was off to the races. Patchwork freed my mind, and a funny thing happened during that time, sewing became much more expensive, and clothing at the store came to be inexpensive. I would look at a dress on the rack, and do a mental tally: pattern - $5.00, fabric - $10.00+ per yard, notions - $5.00-$10.00, and none of that included the day at least that it would take to make the dress, making the rack purchase cost less. Now I know it doesn't really "cost" less due to all the issues surrounding the present day garment industry. I haven't came up with a cure for that, but I do dress differently too - work jeans, and sweatshirts from the Goodwill are the norm for me these days.

I'm not saying quilting is cheap either. Especially if you're a collector. I never could afford antique quilts, but I could sure afford antique quilt tops which took up much less space, and in some cases were as crisp as a newly minted dollar bill. But many were made from scraps, and some were made of soft, well-worn pieces of fabric. My favorite has some tiny pieces put together just to make a piece large enough to fashion a tiny one inch triangle. Now that is frugal! How easy I have had it, I grew up in a time where it is normal to buy large pieces of yardage and cut them into small pieces only to sew them back into a large piece of fabric! I dad-gum-goll-guarantee you that my quilting antecedents would ban me from a quilting bee these days.

But in my defense I would have to say this is where the generational guilt that we all carry comes in. My experiences are different than my forebears. I have to deal with the cards I have been dealt. I don't know for sure, but suspect that they carried guilt pertaining to their times too. I have never had to make a blanket out of patched together pieces of old clothing, but if I had to, I could now. So with that in mind, I sorted through the snippets and scraps I have been saving for years and I whittled the pile down to strips and pieces I thought I might use (quilt bucket list) someday...and I sent everything else to the Goodwill, where someone may find the scrap bag and give those pieces of my past sewing some life.

I guess what I am trying to do is justify my wasteful ways, many times we don't rise to the "occasion" if there has not been an "occasion" in our lives, yet. Life is a series of baby steps, taken one day and one project or learning curve at a time.

Do you have struggle with frugal guilt pangs too?