Rope Yarn Sunday

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Rope Yarn Sunday is an old Navy tradition. At sea, you work a half-day on Wednesdays then make it up by working a half-day on Saturday. Your Wednesday afternoon was then devoted to mending your clothes and hammocks - using rope yarns kept for making new rope for the thread. 

Voyages in the days of sail could last months or even years. Sewing was a necessary skill for mending sails, so much so that new sailors were put to sewing up their own sea bags and hammocks as practice. Some sailors could also knit and crochet, a necessary skill for making socks, sweaters & blankets when your next port visit was months away.

Sorry to tell you, but you're still going to have to fix your clothes at sea. Buttons fall off, rips happen. The best thing about the new Navy working uniforms is repairs will be less noticeable. 

When I was in boot camp in the 80's, the issued sewing kit you could get from NEX or the Ship's Store had a pair of those pointed scissors you thought you left behind in elementary school, a card with black, navy, light blue, khaki and white thread wrapped on it, two needles stuck through some red metallic paper, a needle threader, some pins stuck through a strip of  white paper and a waxed paper envelope that held a small assortment of uniform buttons and two small gold safety pins. I suspect little has changed.

First of all, replace those blunt edge elementary school scissors. Your local NEX should have a sewing section - look for a small pair of embroidery scissors with a good-sized blade, not the tiny bladed pairs. If you're stationed in a town with a swap meet, try looking for a small pair of surgical scissors.

Pick up a spool of black.navy blue button thread. This is a heavier thread that takes more abuse so lasts longer - best for your working uniform buttons. Should the aglets come off of your bootlaces, you can use it to make a simple whipping to keep the laces from unraveling. Because this is a heavier thread, you may need to pick up some sewing needles with bigger eyes.

To mend your shore clothes, pick up Rainbow Braid - a flat braid of several different colors of thread. You can easily pull out the color of thread you need and there's no messing with flimsy cards or plastic spools.

Keep in mind, the quality of your repair work is equal to the amount of practice you put into it. Learn how to sew on a button, repair a rip or sew on a patch now, before you have to do it at sea.


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