Dollies, doilies and mental stitching. Tilf examines a way of repairing burst seams and lost stuffing.

We’re going to discuss dollys. Or perhaps dollies. But not doilies, those things are weird.

Dollies are a fantastic example of everything that people forget to remember.

When you have a dolly for many years, its seams and fabric eventually wear and tear. This is no problem, it’s repairable. Certainly there are floods of tears, and there is pain, then mum, nan or some other handy-with-a-needle guardian arrives and they fix it. They take it away for a while, poke the stuffing back in, fix the stitches and fabric, then hand it back, good as new.

Better then new, as this one probably has a new dress, new buttons, new bright stitches or some other exciting change that shows the dolly has experienced some stuffing being knocked out, has been taken away for repair and is back, smiling, loving and better than ever.

But sometimes, just sometimes, the stuffing is knocked out of the dolly too many times. Too many stitches pop. Too much of the fabric has been worn away and the dolly seems beyond repair.

For those of you that can’t see a metaphor when you’re hit with one, this is one. You can either give up, go and play a computer game or something, or you can stay, and see things anew, and realise something you already knew but couldn’t put words around.

I thought so. Wasn’t a difficult choice, really, was it? See, I know that everyone has had that dolly moment. Whether they know it, or admit, or not. When you can almost see your stuffing coming out, when your button eyes have lost their sparkle, or have just been lost. You take yourself away to your inner mum, nan or seamstress and repair, renew. But you still have the pain in the first place. When the stuffing is knocked out, it leaves a hole that you have to fill and repair, sometimes replacing the shredded bits with new types of stuffing.

You have to feel that needle go through your tender fabric, you have to sometimes patch the threadbare patches too worn by general existence to sew back together. Sometimes you have to feel the tearing as your fabric frays and tears around the new stitches and you must patch, and wait for that new patch, that looks the same, but is stronger than what was there before, to settle in. Wait for it to feel like you again.

The problem is people all need their stuffing knocked every now and again, it teaches us that we can’t always win, and sometimes it’s better if we don’t win. It teaches us the grace of second place and that sometimes we are meant to take that silver trophy, it means that we’re less worn out for the next race and we can win that one instead.

Sometimes it can feel like those stitches will never settle, that the stuffing will never be refilled, that no patch will ever fix that gaping hole left by wear, tear or tears.

Sometimes it can feel like we’ve spent ages stitching the dolly back together, we take them back out for another day at the park and the seams burst, there and then, and it becomes the enormous struggle to hold all the stuffing in. It’s just because you need to spend a little more time repairing, not just throwing in a few tack stitches and hoping it holds until later. Sometimes you have to go back to the drawing board, and rebuild your dolly from scratch.

But sometimes you need to change the stuffing inside, you need to be refilled with something new, or you’ll always be filled with the same old stuff. And that stuff needs to meet new regulations, like fire retardation, damage control, child safety and understanding. Comfortably filling yourself with new stuffing every now and again is all very well, but it does hurt when the only reason you lost the stuffing in the first place is because someone or something knocked it out of you.

But remember, sometimes the dolly will need a new dress, or many patches. It will need new button eyes, sometimes a new smile must be sewn on. Sometimes you must patch so much of the body you can’t see the original seams.

But that dolly is still the same dolly, and will continue to be. Always. Until the end.

Be strong my little stitched friends.


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