Photo courtesy of Frank McKenna on Unsplash

I cannot sew. I swear, it’s something in my DNA that prevents me from doing anything with a needle and thread. And that includes using a sewing machine.

I hold the (unofficial) high school Home Ec record for the most times a skirt zipper was sewn in (crooked) and ripped out. And then sewn back in. Crooked.

If I try to sew on a button, an invisible gremlin puts a knot in my thread before I make the first pass.

I wish I were just kidding, but sadly, it’s true.

I even took a sewing class as an adult to see if I had outgrown the ineptitude.


When I was growing up, Mrs. Stroup, a friend of Grandma’s, did the sewing for many people in town. Being the youngest of three girls and inheriting hand-me-downs, I can recall many instances of standing on a platform to have a skirt pinned up to be hemmed or seams taken in. She must have been quite affordable as we were not well off.

I need a Mrs. Stroup in my life now. The few times I’ve checked out local seamstresses to perform simple alterations, the prices quoted were more than I originally paid for the dress or skirt.

I would really like to find a seamstress or tailor who would be willing to barter sewing services for something I can do such as bake or write or balance a checkbook or craft a speech.

Bartering needs to make a comeback.

In some towns, it already has.

Are you fortunate enough to live near where there are Little Free Libraries? The first one was “invented” in 2009 in Hudson, Wisconsin. A man named Todd Bol built a small outdoor holder, filled it with a dozen or so books, and added a sign that read Free Books.

According to their website, “As of November 2016, there are over 50,000 registered Little Free Library book exchanges in all 50 U.S. states and over 70 countries around the world.”

The idea is that you take any book you want and then (same time or later) donate a book or two of your own. The concept appears to be quite successful by increasing the number of readers and building a friendlier and stronger community. The honor system is alive and well.

There’s a similar concept for borrowing tools called Local Tools. The tool library in Berkeley, CA, has over 2500 tools in their system AND a staff of people who provide helpful advice if it’s needed.

Many of us have too much stuff and yet we continue to buy more.

Consider how amazing it would be if we could just borrow what we need or trade one service for another instead of spending money.

This idea is absolutely free. Pass it on.