It's been interesting to watch mending make a renaissance the last few years. Like many people, I grew up with a parent who sewed, and the lives of many garments were extended by some judicious taking down of hems when we grew, replacing of buttons when they fell (or were pulled) off, or adding of patches to the knees of trousers so they could continue to be worn. Because making clothes last longer means not having to buy new ones.
But it's not just children that wear out their clothes (though they are especially gifted at it), adult clothing sometimes needs care and attention too. Cuffs get frayed. Moths make holes in knitwear. Seams lose their integrity.
There's a whole movement around making your clothes last as long as you can, and a world of techniques you can employ from the subtle to the visible. This has environmental benefits - the fashion industry, and "fast fashion" in particular, makes a significant environmental impact - as well as being good for your budget.
My own journey with visible mending started with a video from ABC Australia that I happened upon that laid out the basics of darning and which made me think "that's not too hard - I reckon I could do that".
Some mending can be done with just the basics of needle and thread, though tools like darning mushrooms and embroidery hoops are relatively inexpensive and can make jobs less fiddly and easier to manage (though I've seen an orange used instead of a darning mushroom, so there are even cheaper alternatives if you do your research). I've also learned that there are many ways to approach a mend and what technique you use can depend on what the garment is made of but also your taste, preferences and skill level play a big part. And no two mends are alike!
Here's a pair of pyjama bottoms I brought back from the brink of "ragbag oblivion" that was a combination of darning and patching. They are back in rotation and have (I hope) many more years of wear ahead of them.
Use the library resources at your disposal
Want to get into mending? Your library is a treasure trove of resources including:
- Sewing machines you can use at Tūranga and New Brighton
- Monthly repair cafe at Tūranga - Bring an item that needs mending and someone may be able to help you fix it.
- Occasional free mending events like Clothing rescue.
- Creativebug Learn mending techniques online via video instruction.
If you're keen to try some mending the following titles are available (at no charge) from the library:
A book I return to over and over again and which has a very active and super-helpful Facebook community that goes with it. There's nothing like getting tips from experienced menders!