mending matters

I haven’t blogged here in over 5 years.

I wasn’t enjoying sewing and at the time I didn’t understand why at first. I wasn’t sure if I even liked it. Sure, I mended stuff from time to time but never thought much about it, other than feeling that it was something I kinda wanted to do but also that it was some kind of obligation. I didn’t mind mending, and I preferred it over new projects, but it wasn’t something I got very excited about either.

Over the years I’ve figured out some of my issues with sewing (a discussion for another time), but it’s this book (a recent find) that prompted me to kick-start the blog again: Mending Matters by Katrina Rodabaugh.

Mending Matters by Katrina Rodabaugh (New York: Abrams, 2018)

It offers some basic techniques and ideas for mending and reusing textiles in the context of a strong visual aesthetic that happens to be Very Much My Style. And the whole book is so up my street, I’d offer to feed its cat if it went away on holiday.

This book validates my instinct to mend rather than toss damaged textiles, whether it’s jeans, knitted gloves, canvas tote bags, socks, underwear, or my much loved (and thus somewhat threadbare) winter coat.

Can I afford to buy new things to replace the ones that show some wear? Sure; this isn’t about personal necessity. But I have a very keen desire to keep stuff out of landfill if at all possible (and if not, then as long as possible), and that goes to a bigger picture need to minimize my impact on the planet.

In fact, it’s so very easy to just buy a new whatever, that it takes time, effort and determination to actually wear something out. It feels like an accomplishment, and it’s one that I’m proud of. Some of my partner’s T-shirts recently got beyond mending so I rendered them down into new dishcloths. (I like cloths that are 12″/30 cm to 14″/35 cm square, just by the way.)

And mending, like sewing, is a way of providing for yourself. It builds skills and, in the process, a sense of self-efficacy that simply cannot be bought. All of this contributes to self-esteem, which is no bad thing.

When it comes to clothes, buying a new whatever is actually not the easiest for me since it’s difficult to find things that fit. If a piece of clothing is damaged, I take it out of rotation so the damage doesn’t get worse. Mending is thus a strategy for adding an item (back) into my wardrobe, and as such, it’s much more efficient for me than shopping.

I’ve mended lots of items over the years, but one of the ideas in Mending Matters that was new to me was to take the opportunity to make the mend attractive in its own right as a design element. Some mends are better if they’re invisible, but visible mends can fuse craft, art and utility.

So I’m going to keep mending but I’m going to try to bring more creativity and enjoyment to the process, as well as acknowledging that mending is valid and good and worth talking about.