Life Skill: Sewing

Way back when, my mom taught me the basics of sewing and I never really imagined I would rely on needing those skills as much as I have the last few years. When our imported items break or need replacement parts, sometimes there are no other options other than to get creative and come up with a homemade solution.


When we bought our first house in the Netherlands, we treated ourselves to a fancy umbrella for our back yard so we could enjoy the summer evenings outside with getting cooked in the sun. That has to be about 10 years ago. We packed it up and moved it over with us to the US and it was something we couldn’t find in the stores anywhere here, at least at a normal price point. Knowing that, we were diligent with keeping the umbrella inside during the winter and covered when it was out for the summer. These days you can find umbrellas that cantilever and tilt at almost any store but why not take care of our investment and make it last?

This year we took the umbrella out of storage and the protective cover pretty much disintegrated in our hands. I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to find a replacement cover over here so knew I was going to have to come up with a solution of my own. Since the original cover still held it’s basic shape, I decided to salvage the 4 foot zipper and a fiberglass rod that was used on the front flap. Then I took the remaining fabric and used it as a template. Jo-Ann Fabrics has a wide selection of outdoor fabric in all sorts of colors and patterns but I had a hard time deciding because it was just too much choice colorwise and then some fabrics felt more sturdy than others. I settled on using a sturdy duck cloth (at 50% off a yard) and took a bright blue to add a pop of color to the back deck. That and they were out of black. I had to trim fabric from the bottoms and add it to the width so there was more sewing and ironing than originally planned but I’m pretty happy with the result so far. I purchased some waterproofing fabric spray for our pop-up trailer I am going to use on the duck cloth to protect it even more. It’s a product made for Sunbrella that I’ve read is pretty good.

Thanks for all the lessons on how to use a sewing machine and plan for seam allowances mom!

IMG_20170530_135836I’m at the point where I can decide to use the original zipper or maybe come up with a tie or snap system to hold it together. For now, it’s held on with sewing pins because just as I finished up it started raining. Perfect timing.

Do you have special things you shipped from abroad and have to repair on your own because they are not available in your new hometown?


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