A stitch in time saves money

Last updated 12:48 09/10/2012

I am what you might call a frustrated crafter. I often feel the creative impulse or desire to make things.

"Wouldn't that look good with a coat of paint," I think of the crappy old chair I bought from the eco shop for a dollar...five years ago.

"I should make everybody's Christmas presents!" I declare in an uncharacterstic surge of enthusiasm.

"It doesn't matter if these pants that I just bought don't fit properly. I'll just pull out the sewing machine and alter them a bit," I blatantly lie to myself.

In a lot of cases, I do actually have the basic tools I'd need to achieve these various tasks and I even have some of the skills required. What I don't have in abundance is time and, more important, patience.

But a trip to the mall to run some errands at the weekend has me thinking I should perhaps try to acquire some.

I've had a pair of shoes for a couple of years that are my fallback option for work attire. They're black, they have a medium high wedge and they go with a lot of things. But I'd worn them down and they needed to be re-soled. It occurred to me that I could just buy another pair but I hadn't seen any around that were quite the same combination of cute, wearable, walkable and multiple-outfit-compatible. And then the shoe repair guy told me it would be $60 to re-sole them. Which is more than I paid for them in the first place. 

I have to admit that for a split second I considered telling him not to bother. As it was, I agreed and then went to Farmers only to discover that a similar pair of shoes were for sale with 50 per centt off and for $25 cheaper than what I'd just paid for new soles and heels. I wasn't sure whether to be "Damn! I've spent more money on shoes than I meant to" or "Yay, now I'll have TWO pairs of shoes I can wear!" In the end, though, the joy of new shoes always wins. If it didn't I wouldn't own so many.

I also had a skirt that needed a new zip. Now, unlike the necessaries related to shoe repair, I actually can sew and I have a sewing machine and I know where to procure a new zip. However, my sewing skills are average and when it comes to zips I find them very frustrating and always seem to make them go wonky. Many's the obscenity that has fallen from my lips in the past as the result of a zip gone awry.

Thinking to save myself the stress of attempting my own zip replacement, I dropped the skirt into the Alteration Service at the mall, only to be told that it would cost $33, which is about half what I spent on the skirt in the first place.

So all up the cost of fixing one pair of shoes and a skirt is nearly $100. I find this mind-boggling and I kind of hate that unlike the one our parents and grandparents grew up in, ours is a culture that practically begs you to throw things away when there's still plenty of use left in them. 

Now, I don't imagine I'll ever have the wherewithal to attempt to cobble my own shoes, but damn it, I bloody can do my own zips. Because frustration be damned, I now have the motivating power of spite at my behest. Spiteful thrift, in fact. I'm like the Nazis with the Ark of the Covenant - potentially invincible, and yes, I do imagine that at some point in proceedings, probably after I've had to unpick something for the third time, my face will go a bit like this.

But as Face-melty God is my witness, I'm not going to wuss out on zips anymore, nor hems neither. 

What DIY, craft or sewing project is the fly in your ointment? At what point is something so frustrating and time consuming that you'll happily pay someone else to do it? And does it grate on you when you know are capable of doing it yourself much more cheaply?

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