After my father’s mother died I somehow ended up with a rag rug she’d made. It was sturdy and I used it for years. At some point, after washing it a few times, it started unraveling and I put it in a box of things to mend. Now, I am not much of a seamstress and sometimes clothes that only need buttons go out of fashion before I get to mending them. This rag rug sat in the bottom of that box for a very long time.
This afternoon I had a few hours to organize my sewing things — I’d brought my other grandmother’s wooden sewing kit from my mother’s house a couple years ago and never got around to filling it. I figured that I might as well mend the items in the mending box while I was at it.
I saved the rag rug for last because I knew it needed a lot of repairs. Turning on a bright light to see where the seams had come loose, I looked at the rug closely for the first time in the forty years I’d owned it.
My grandma lived through the depression and the rug was obviously made out of strips of clothing, braided together. Then the braids were then sewn together making an approximately three by two foot oval. I also own a quilt she made that used scraps of clothing. She once sat with me telling me whose blouse this shape was from, whose dress that shape was from.
Back to the rug. The first area that needed mending included gray corduroy material. Could that have been from a pair of my father’s trousers when he was a young boy?
Another piece of material in this area was probably part of a blue polka-dotted dress. Grandma Patrick’s? Or maybe one of my aunt’s dresses? The tiny polka-dot pattern and the colors looked like something from the 30s or 40s.
Another piece of fabric looked like it might have been someone’s winter scarf or even a sweater, it was cream with red accents. There’s some light denim — a casual blouse? Grandpa’s shirt?
The least interesting piece of fabric is the most colorful, a maroon strip that was used to create a color contrast. I am thinking this might have been scrap drapery or upholstery material.
As I sat mending I listened to an audio book, wondering if Grandma Patrick sat in her front room and listened to the radio as she created the rug. I felt she was sitting next to me, and we were sewing the rug together. I wondered what we would talk about, as we sat next to each other sewing the same rug, 60 or 70 years apart.
These are the reasons I keep things that many people would have thrown out. I knew everyone of the people whose clothes were braided into that old rag rug.