I took my tablecloth out of the dryer this morning and was dismayed to find it torn. Two big gashes where the heavy cotton jacquard had split open. I sighed, sensing that its day had come and it was now worn out. I’d been dreading this moment.
I have had this tablecloth for 11 years. My mom bought it for me at a Crate and Barrel outlet when I was setting up an apartment in San Diego, and it’s traveled with me to every house since. On one corner it bears slubs from the claws of a maniacal white kitten that briefly haunted my life, but other than that the abuse of daily life has barely marred it. And it’s not like I treat it as one ought a lily white piece of fabric. Instead, it faces down dirty garden produce, spilled wine, festive splatters, and every sort of dirty creative thing I have going on at any given moment. And it always washes up just fine with no special treatment.
It’s because of this resiliency that I am very fond of this piece of fabric. That, and its thick, soft, comforting texture in the perfect shade of white, and its pure cotton quality that’s almost impossible to find these days for less than several hundred dollars.
Further inspection revealed that the fabric hadn’t worn through. Very strangely, it split open right along the edge of a very faint, almost invisible stain. I have no idea what the stain was, and hadn’t noticed it when the cloth was on the table. It sounds crazy but there seems to have been some sort of chemical reaction that ate through the fabric. Has anyone ever heard of this? I hadn’t used bleach in the wash, just regular detergent and a white vinegar rinse. It was in the wash with a bunch of towels, so no buckles could have torn it.
Regardless of how the tears were created my affection for this tablecloth was enough to try to patch it up. I am no seamstress, but I gave it a go. It was gentle, quiet work that was fitting for my energy level. I’ve just spent three days with a stomach bug unlike any I’ve ever experienced. The doc thinks it was viral, or food-related, but the bottom line, other than the obviously biological, was fevered nights, chilled days, 72 hours without eating, four pounds lost, ongoing gorgeous birdsong outside the window, dinner and concert plans cancelled, two contractor visits for home improvements rescheduled in the midst of big projects, the weight of my sleeping cat anchoring me in my body, and many Netflix movies streamed in bed.
Two hours of sewing later and I had created some meandering seams that brought to mind raised surgical scars. I am sure a Colonial four-year-old would have done better, but I don’t mind the patch job.
The thread I had wasn’t a perfectly matched shade of white, but no one but I will ever notice that. In fact, I doubt many people will notice these repairs at all as they blend pretty well into the woven texture of the cloth. It will remain our little secret, for hopefully many more years.