Up and Down the River by Cathy Johnson and guest writers is published weekly in the Big Rapids Pioneer.
By Cathy Johnson
Yup. It’s that time of year again. Time for Slow Fashion October, a concept which has been discussed here for the last couple of years. October brings a change of season and wardrobe, and the inevitable enticement from retailers to start over, buy new, fill up that closet.
But wait. All that shirt needs is a new button sewn on. All that sweater needs is a little bit of darning on the sleeve and it’ll be just like new. That ripped seam? That sagging hem? Whatever happened to mending?
I realize that for some folks, it has never left. I must confess that I don’t have a mending basket in the living room like my mother did, but rather a pile in an undisclosed location. But who teaches mending anymore??? Aha, look to the internet and YouTube. There is a video for almost everything. I even found a storefront in Britain called Make Do & Mend that was not just busy but “inundated” when they opened in 2002. They now employ 12 people and do just as much teaching as they do mending.
Again, from Britain, the Great British Sewing Bee helped spark interest in sewing, particularly in repairing those items of good quality in the wardrobe that one really wants to keep. “Good clothes are like good friends,” and who wants to consign a friend to the giveaway pile when all that is needed is a fairly simple repair?
Some people consider mending a badge of honor. Tom van Deijnen, better known as Tom of Holland, has a technique called Visible Mending, where the repair isn’t camouflaged but right out there in the open, colorful and obvious. You can look up his work on knitted garments on, you guessed it, the internet.
If you are brave enough to check out young people’s jeans, you may see another use of visible mending, which is a hashtag as well – #visible mending. This method embellishes the holes and rips with colorful embroidery, some of which looks so complex and beautiful that I know it took absolutely hours to complete. But if it’s that favorite pair of jeans, the effort can be totally worth it.
All of this talk of mending, which does bring back memories of my mother, sitting in the living room darning one of my dad’s wool socks with the aid of a light bulb inside the sock, should hopefully spark more conversation about the whole idea of Slow Fashion October: to be conscious of where and how our clothes are made, to be better stewards of our own wardrobes and to honor the efforts of those who made those garments, whether it is someone toiling in a factory overseas or our own two hands.
The mending basket, the button jar, the pincushion, the sewing machine. These are not just oddities from antiquity, they are real. Find an article of clothing from your wardrobe and go for it: Make Do and Mend.
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