Beyond Collapse

Surviving and Rebuilding Civilization from Scratch


Notions, Post-SHTF

It’s been an interesting few weeks – the job hunt is going well, but meanwhile our dear neighbors dropped off a few very interesting presents that bolstered our preps immensely. I’ll explain that a bit more:

Our neighbors work from home, contracting to go out and clean out foreclosed homes, trailers, you-name-it. Since the banks want the places empty, they really don’t care what happens to the contents of a given home. So, our neighbors make a modest-but-tidy living rehabilitating and selling appliances and other large, useful items. They also haul out everything else, as occasionally the home is owned by someone who has left this mortal coil, with no relatives to jump in and pick up the mortgage.

So, one fine evening, knowing that my missus is a sewing freak, my neighbors drop off these huge totes full of stuff for sewing, cross-stitch, quilting, knitting, etc. It’s a goldmine of stuff, and it got me to thinking…

Post-Apocalyptic Fashionista

Let’s look down the road, 15 years after The Big One. Forget what happened, don’t speculate on how it happened, or any of that. All we need to know is that you survived, and you now have a family, living in a thriving post-apocalyptic community.

So… what will you be wearing? More importantly, what will your kids be wearing? How do you keep the cold at bay outdoors during the winter? What’s on your feet? What does your spouse use to keep her ‘girls’ reined in, given that bras don’t really exist in quantity? You see where I’m getting at right?

If you followed the book, you would have been smart enough to load up an impressive pile of clothes, blankets and shoes from the local thrift shops, garage sales, and the like. You would have also stockpiled kids’ clothes, right?

Well, good for you, but how are you going to maintain them? What happens when a button pops loose or breaks? What if you want to make a wedding dress for your daughter? What happens if the climate shifts a little, making your current clothing pile somewhat inadequate for the new and lower temperatures (hey, it could happen). Most importantly of all, how would you like to make a lot of post-apocalyptic scratch for only a little effort and skill?

Getting a Notion for Notions

Okay – so the wise guys among us prepping types would have stockpiled or scrounged/built a sewing machine that needs no electricity. You’ll have miles of thread and acres of fabrics stockpiled, right? Maybe you thought to stockpile a few metal and plastic bobbins?

Okay, so how about buttons? Even more devious – how much cordage, hem-tape, elastic, lace, assorted trim, and the like do you have? What about sturdy hook fasteners, Velcro(tm), zippers (of various sizes and toughness), ribbons, and such? How many pairs of scissors do you have, along with a means to sharpen them? A pair or two of pinking shears and small trimming scissors would be nice – how many have you got? What about measuring tape and seam rippers? Chalk? Do you have a means of threading needles as your eyes and dexterity lessen? What are you going to use to insulate a coat, or a blanket?

Oh, here’s one – can you make a pattern, or carefully disassemble a bit of clothing to make a pattern? What if that makeshift pattern has to become a different size of clothing? By the way, how many pins do you have? Most tough outdoor clothing will use rivets – what will you use for that? Patterns – you have a zillion of them, or perhaps a ton of craft(kraft?) paper and pencils to make your own, right?

If you haven’t noticed by now, we’re talking about what most ladies who know sewing refer to as “notions” – all of those little bits and bobs that make a skirt stay on your hips, keeps your fly closed, keeps a coat from flapping in the breeze – you know, things like that. Mind you I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of what all could be covered by the term.

These sewing notions can also make a home-sewn bit of clothing look prettier. Laugh all you want, but pretty clothing can make the difference at market between a functional shift dress that may get you two cans of beans, or a pretty dress that took very little extra work, but will fetch eight cans or more, depending on your skill.

Skills To Pay The Bills

It’s easy to rack up a lot of this stuff, though you will definitely want to keep an eye on the budget, because this stuff can get pricey in a hurry. All that said, sewing is one hell of a skill. My wife rolls her eyes in confusion when I worked from home, and wondered at how I can pull off engineering skills, even on-the-fly. Well, I’ll let you in on a little secret – I marvel at how she can buy a thrift-store dress that’s “cute” but not her size, carefully deconstruct it, make and modify the resulting pattern, make a mock-up of the new dress, then sew it into a form that looks just like the original did, but now fits her perfectly.

Sewing takes patience, a mental ability at geometry, a talent for mental inventory (fabric, thread color, notions, etc) and a deft hand (even with a sewing machine). If you do not have the skills? Get them. Master them. I guarantee that once you do, you will be well ahead of the crowd in a post-collapse world.

Even if you’re not going to become a post-collapse seamstress or tailor, get a bit of skill at patching, some basic stitches, and enough skill to make a usable/sturdy set of clothing. You’ll thank me later, when you actually need that clothing.

All Good Things…

Let’s face it – clothes become threadbare, get dirty beyond cleaning, they tear, and in general they wear out. Post-collapse, some big things to scrounge would be as much thread, needles and fabric as you can lay hands on. But while you’re in there loading up, don’t forget the notions. You may indeed surprise yourself with the amount of time saved and prosperity you can gain from having/using the stuff.

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Monday, March 18th, 2013 Long-Term, Short-Term Comments Off