Why Mending Matters

It isn’t the first time that something born of the street became high fashion. Necessity IS the mother of invention after all. But mending techniques, like the Japanese sashiko stitching and boro mended textiles that has become so popular the last few years, can also be one of the most sustainable action steps in creating your conscious closet!


As Fashion Revolution has highlighted this week, one of the first steps to creating a sustainable Fashion future is to reduce the amount of clothing we are consuming. That means that we also have to maintain the pieces we already own and keeping them out of the landfills for as long as possible.


For the last seven years, writer and textile artist Katrina Rodabaugh has been prioritizing handmade and second hand clothing, and her intoxicating indigo Instagram grid is a visual feast for anyone facing patching their own pants. She also has a book out, highlighting the need for mending, and sharing techniques.


Life comes with it’s scrapes and bruises, so it’s almost a given that we’ll all have at least one piece of clothing that will need some kind of mending in the near future. But what if you’ve never sewn on a button, let alone darned a sock before?


If you’re local to Chicago, there’s at least two organizations that have been organizing mending workshops. The Wasteshed, a second-hand shop for arts supplies, has a regular “Radical Mending” night focused on creating mends that are also works of art in their own right. Most mending is not “invisible”, but it can look beautiful!


The Shudio (a shop + studio) also just held a mending workshop recently, in conjunction with Bide Market. “With simple mending techniques, you can bring that beloved piece back to life!” (Side tangent: the Shudio has also just started a podcast on conscious consumerism!)


If you can’t wait for the next mending workshop near you, there’s tons of print and online resources including an article in the March issue of Better Homes & Gardens, and this video on how to darn a sock. Hand sewing scholar and teacher Sarah E. Woodyard (yes, S.E.W!) also hosts handstitching tutorials on her YouTube channel and online workshops. (You can also check out her hashtag #RememberWhatYourHandsCanDo)


It's also worth noting that a side benefit of handstitching can be stress relief. "I find the simple act of choosing thread and beginning to stitch very restorative." says artist and researcher Claire Wellesley-Smith. She's even been keeping a 'stitch journal'. "I find that these wandering stitches are helping to embed my thinking as I work, a way of thinking-through-making." So with mending, in a way, you're not just maintaining your wardrobe, but investing in yourself.


Have you been stretching your finger muscles and doing some mending of your own? Show us what you've got!

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