The Rag Man

In various books I have read, especially set in Edwardian England, a Rag Man has been mentioned. This person, presumably not always a man, came around and collected scraps of cloth, clothes to worn to use any more, bits of fabric too small for quilts, etc. That is all I know and I have to say that I have longed for a way to get rid of fabric (not quilt fabric!), items made of fabric that are no good for the various charities that take clothes and linens. I just hate tossing them and thinking of this perfectly good fabric, once cleaned and shredded and reused for …what? Something no doubt — ending up in a landfill. Sadly, no such person is forthcoming.

I was thinking of my mythical Rag Man last Friday when I tried to cram some recently washed socks into an overflowing sock drawer. I thought of him again two minutes later when I tried to do the same with some undergarments. That was it. I took everything out of the drawers, both sock and undergarments, one at a time, and sorted the good from the bad, then reorganized the drawers.

In the process, I found some handkerchiefs with the brown spots that come from fabric touching wood. I decided that I would line the couple of drawers I was cleaning out.

As an aside, I like a clean and tidy house, but I am much happier when someone else lines the drawers and cupboards. As I moved to this house when the Young Man was six months old, and I was more concerned about keeping the tiny being alive than lining the drawers, the drawers of my dresser were never lined.

Mod Century Geometrics Dots in Cream
Mod Century Geometrics Dots in Cream

My mind raced around the house for Contac paper or some other type of drawer liner. Nothing came to mind until my mind’s eye rested on the ironing board where I had pressed but not yet cut up a half yard of one of the Mod Century background prints. When I thought of fabric I thought “yes, something warm, but fresh and light.”

Pretty soon, I was cutting a rectangle of the fabric for my underwear drawer and glue sticking it directly to the wood of the drawer. Probably not the ‘right’ way to do it, but since the interior designer had the day off, I went ahead. The sock drawer was next and a giant pile of singles and knee socks went out. I put some more of the Mod Century print down to line the drawer, put the revitalized socks back in an order that surely only makes sense to me and felt very pleased with myself.

Drawer lining in process
Drawer lining in process

We have a lot of house projects to do. There is a long out of date list somewhere that is overwhelming to me every time I come across it. I have decided that one drawer is good. One shelf makes progress. Getting rid of three blouses that have not been worn since 2004 creates space and lightness and that is all good. I don’t have to clean out the entire closet at a go. Incremental or iterative progress is good.

The funny thing is that with this mini-success, I am eying the closet hungrily and can feel the clothes in there quivering in fear. I am also looking at fabric in a new way. πŸ˜‰

Drawer lining finished
Drawer lining finished

Author: Jaye

Quiltmaker who enjoys writing and frozen chocolate covered bananas.

16 thoughts on “The Rag Man”

    1. I am sure it has been done, but have never heard of it before, or didn’t remember hearing about it. I like the idea, too and will work on some other areas that need refreshing.

  1. Great post! A quilter should have her drawers lined with fabric. I have visions of using all my discarded clothing for some cool up cycled project but of course never have the time to actually do it. And of course with all that beautiful batik stash staring at me – it never happens. Where’s the rag man when you need him?

  2. Cute fabric, and what a happy drawer liner that makes! I confess–I have never lined a drawer nor a shelf. I bought contact paper once in my life for some sort of kids’ school art project. I’m big into organizing–my closets and drawers are generally in pretty good shape–but I figure my shelves have to fend for themselves, LOL. However, I also don’t have any drawers in my closet that are real wood so I don’t have to worry about them staining. I do love your solution–that fabric must make you smile every time you look at it. And yes, you can take over the world…one shelf at a time.

  3. There’s something so wonderful about getting organized, isn’t there? I recently purchased a new box of snapware (which remained unopened for a month because opening it meant I had to deal with the old stuff). Finally, I opened it, washed it and reorganized my kitchen cabinet where I keep such things. Out with the broken, stained, missing a top pieces and in with the newly organized snapware. They are in bins, tops with tops and bottoms with bottoms…sigh, if only they would stay that way!

    Love your idea of lining drawers with great fabric. Every time you open those drawers you will have to smile!

  4. That looks much happier than paper for lining the drawers. I have pieces of scrapbook paper lining my dresser (I got a big pack of it at a thrift store–woo!) but even though it’s pretty, I’ve never liked the way it felt at the bottom of the drawer.

    BTW, if you have damaged clothes/other unusable fabric, Goodwill will take it. This article: http://earth911.com/style/donate-worn-damaged-clothing/ quotes a Goodwill VP as saying they’ll take all textiles in any condition. If they can’t sell it as clothing, etc, they can still sell to salvage textile recyclers, sort of like the rag man on a grand scale. I was happy to find that out — I just ran across that a few weeks ago.

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