Pant Leg Jug Carriers and the Blanket Stitch
Snip, snip, snip go the scissors. Chug, chug, chug goes the sewing machine. I’m down to final preps for my upcoming mule ramble. That means sewing up canvas covers for my water jugs. I’m feeling lonely tonight. Julia, my wife and the only person that ever rode a mule with me on one of my rambles, is not coming on my upcoming Mules West journey.
That Julia won’t be with me makes me sad. She’s staying at home to take care of Snookie, her dog of 10 years. I hope once I’m on the road with mules Brick and Cracker a glance at my new water jug covers will cheer me up. I’ll smile, knowing a part of her is with me.
Okay, at least a part of her jeans will be with me.
On our last mule journey, from our farm in Western NC to Virginia and back, we carried our water in 2 half-gallon cranberry juice bottles. They were plastic with stout molded handles that made them perfect to hang from the pack saddle. The only problem is that after 6 weeks in the southern sun, they turned cloudy.
Those degrading water bottles got me thinking. If 6 weeks in the sun turned the clear plastic milky, what would 6 or 9 months under the open sky do? Would the sun ping a bunch of plastic off those bottles leaving me to drink a mix of water and plastic particles? Would I have to chug a gallon of cranberry juice like a mule man with a yeast infection just so I could buy 2 new bottles every month?
No, what my water bottles needed was better sun protection.
Julia and I call a 450 square foot cabin home. That means runs to Goodwill are frequent, mostly to drop off stuff. Julia had a favorite but worn out pair of jeans headed there. The knees were ripped, the cuffs frayed. Perfect.
Here’s how I spent my evening.
As I sewed away in to the night, Julia put her finishing stitches on the blue shirt I’ll wear on my trip. She put blanket stitching on the shirt’s collar, pocket and cuffs.
It’s getting late. I’ve got pant leg water bottle covers and a beautifully saddle stitched shirt. I look at Julia’s amputated shorts lying forlornly on the floor, gone from blue jeans to cutoffs that nobody wants at Goodwill. That won’t do.
I’ve got blue thread on the sewing machine for the top stitch, blue thread on the bobbin (the bottom spool of thread). I pin and sew and hem away on those soon-to-be-hemmed short pants and half an hour I hold the pants up to the light.
I run my eyes over the stitching. One leg is hemmed blue. One leg is hemmed tan. I’d failed to notice I had 2 colors of thread on the bobbin.
“Don’t worry”, Julia says, “I can still wear them this summer. I’ll just blanket stitch the hem with pink thread.”
I know she will.
In 3 days I hope to saddle up, ride out the front gate and head west with my mules. When I’m out there on the road missing Julia, I’ll look at my water bottles and smile. Somewhere else, I hope she’s looking at her newly hemmed shorts, smiling, and thinking of me too.
PostScript: This turning ladies jeans in to stuff you can carry things in seems to be a thing with me. The photo below is from an article I wrote about a mule ramble I did back in 2013. It’s called Ronald’s Borrowed Vomit Saddle Bags
Since you’re heading West, I’m guessing you won’t be passing by our farm on your way out! I love your pictures – and your good use of Julia’s old jeans…
Be safe, my friend – tell Julia we’d love to have her over one evening…
Ha! You must have been typing that comment as I was riding my mules toward your house. Sure was great visiting this afternoon. Seems to be becoming a ritual – visiting you all before I head out with the mules. Now I can head West! Have a great summer.
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