Tuesday, June 28, 2011

the mending mentality

Do you mend stuff?
What do you keep? What do you throw out? How do you decide?

I don't think I'd ever mended a thing until about three years ago, when I first started sewing. I didn't grow up sewing or making or mending, so it just didn't occur to me to try it. 

Pretty shocking really, to think that until that point in time, it did not register that I could, and should, try to salvage my clothing. I have no doubt I threw things away for want of a new button, or altered hemline. I guess I really did think of clothing as essentially disposable. 

Now I have a dedicated basket for clothes which could use a patch, a stitch or a potential refashion. Some things sit in there for long periods of time. At the moment I'm finding myself delving in more frequently, when I have a spare ten minutes, because it's great to do something a little productive, a little resourceful, a little achievable; something that feels a little bit like creativity even though it isn't. 

I confess my mending is not neat, or pretty, or clever. Sometimes it doesn't work very well. Many clothes are too 'past it' to make them salvageable. Still, it's become important to me to try to give my family's clothing that second, third or fourth chance. Not because we are short of clothes or need to be frugal per se, but because we're working to build more of a make do and mend mentality. Respecting what we own, taking better care of it, avoiding the desire to toss things out or 'upgrade' just because. 

While I was stitching away at this rip in my husband's shirt, I felt a renewed determination to keep working at our ethical clothing pledge. I'll save an update on that for another time, but I've certainly been less consistent in the last year. The mending pile betrays some poor clothing choices on my part - next to the third-hand toddler jeans and the accidentally-ripped work shirts, there are items that were just ill-fitting, bad-quality, 'disposable' choices in the first place. They sit there awaiting some refashioning inspiration, reminding me to think harder next time.

Do you have any mending tales to inspire me with?


  1. I always seem to have a few things sitting on the sewing table waiting to be mended! I also have some partially shrunken wool jumpers waiting to be felted, some crochet and lace that was Grandma's waiting to be refashioned, and of course, some actual sewing projects as well. Hmm, is it any wonder by the time I get the mending done, the kid has grown out of it, or it's a new season by then??!!

  2. I'm all for the mend. And do. Periodically. Except for those looooong stretches of time where I just don't care that the Middle has been gadding about with exposed knees and then his trousers are above his ankles and you can hack into 'em (trousers not ankles) and voila! Shorts! Can't tell you how many pairs of shorts the kid has...

  3. I have a mending pile - I just can't bring myself to do anything with it! And by the time I get to it my kids have usually outgrown the particular item of clothing. I'm lazy and unmotivated when it comes to mending but I have good intentions.

  4. I laughed when you said 'how do you decide'? The rule in my house is, if my mum says it's a rag, it's too far gone already. She's very thrifty. Cam works outside on the farm all day and seriously, I have never known anyone to go through clothes so quickly- he now wants me to patch clothes before they get holes in them...I hate mending...it's an ongoing conversation!

  5. i do have a mending pile...does it get looked at...no, will it..maybe one day.
    the intention is there.
    well done on thinking before buying!
    that bonnet cutie is absolutely delicious!

    hugs ♥

  6. I'm usually wearing my mending pile! I'm always planning to fix things before I wear them again, but never do.

    My ethical clothing pledge has taken a bit of a battering as I'm back to my wedding-day weight after 3.5 years of pregnancy and breastfeeding, few things fit properly and I'm about to return to work. However I have been careful to buy stuff made of decent fabric and that will last a few years. Plus I skipped the Target sale and got my 'new' work cardigan at Savers instead.

  7. I hate mending until I do it, then I get a big buzz from knowing I have saved money and waste. That said, I do believe that there comes a time to get rid of the unwearable unless the fabric itself will actually ever inspire you. It could be used by someone else and so stop being waste and clutter. I also find the mending pile a good way to keep my kids from wearing clothes I dislike. lol Cherrie

  8. Now, I was just talking to a mama this morning. She was telling me about some cheap contraption she had bought that sits at the back of the drivers seat, so the kids can easily reach it. Inside is lots of different pockets and the like, that can be filled with pencils, drink bottle what ever for long car journeys. I thought brilliant, as now I can do something with the raggedy old cargo pants with still perfect pockets! I was thinking to do something to hangover their bedroom door like that but the car sounds a bit more exciting.
    ps...and this could well be a well used idea that I've only just cottoned on to :-)

  9. I have a rather large mending pile, but somehow starting a new garment from scratch always seems much more appealing!

  10. I love mending - but unfortunately things usually sit around in my mending pile for over a year before I get around to it.

    I'm keen to learn how to darn socks.

    I recently had a stove top coffee pot repaired. The handle fell off. I could have bought a new one for the price I paid to have the handle welded back on. But I'm pleased I didn't.

  11. I love the satisfaction of mending clothing.

    Sometimes its just a few stitches, sometimes it's crocheting a woolly circle to cover over a hole.
    I even did some little flowery embroidery to disguise a greasy spot on one of my favourite tops.

    Unfortunately my 'mending basket' has been a bit neglected lately...

  12. I always having a mending/alteration pile and when I sit down to sew something enjoyable I always feel I can't untill that 'other' pile is dealt with which is damn annoying because then I usually don't have the energy for the fun stuff. When my girls were little I was always making things last another season if I could ie long sleeve tees into short sleeve, cottony pants like denim into shorts because I knew by the next winter they wouldn't fit into them

  13. I have lots of mending / alteration plans, but not so many finished products... I am proud of the pyjama leg extensions I made for our girl last year, to gain an extra winter's wear out of them, though!

  14. mending...mending... I toss it all on the cane shelf stand in the sewing room and there it stays my friend. A pile stagnant. I wish I could get motivated to sit and mend but there are just so many other more interesting things calling my attention...maybe I need a basket like you, to place in the middle of the room...school uniforms are the worst, all they need is an extra button but there they lay, patiently waiting.

    Patching jeans would be my favourite repair job...so many exciting possiblities for patches!

  15. My mending pile is HUGE. I have good intentions of mending, but then don't make the time to actually do the mending. You've motivated me to tackle my to-mend pile. I'm going to mend one thing a week until the pile is gone.

    My favourite skirt has been sitting there waiting for the hem to be fixed for almost a year. So silly! It will probably take me only 5 minutes to fix it. Thanks for the inspiration.

  16. I darn my tights and I have an overflowing amount of thrifted clothes (which are too big, too hideous, not quite right, lovely fabric...) waiting to be refashioned!

  17. i'm a mender from way back. i feel like it's probably only something me and my blogging buddies do. a bit of a lost art. yay for us.

    recently i mended a rip in the backside of my beloved one's work pants. i was rather aghast that he actually chose to wear the mended pants. then when they ripped again, i chopped them up into pants for aila. (not letting that quality wool fabric go to waste). and the scraps are still in the fabric pile waiting for another project.

    . . . and i'm always sewing patches over stains and holes in the kids clothes. my sister in law recently bought my kids a massive bag of new clothes. she must have felt sorry for them.

    (and i'll bet your mending IS neat. and pretty. and clever)

  18. I love your mending basket. I reorganised my sewing basket yesterday, and found a couple of items that need to be mended (and have been there for MONTHS!). I was thinking that I needed to have more of a systematic approach to mending, and your basket is beautiful - I want to try and find something similar.

  19. I too am a mender..having gleaned it from both my mother and nana who were both frugal housewives. It is a bit of a lost art in these days of high consumerism though.

    My mending pile is a bit neglected of late and ever growing :)

  20. I had the choice of sitting down and fixing my son's very very ripped school blazer or buying a new one for £45.00 (about $68).

    3 hours of invisible stitching?! done and £45 saved!

    Also not long finished recovering 2 large sofa cushions in work and saved the boss £700.00! bonus for me I think! stick at it and it will bear fruit x


“Three Rules of Work: Out of clutter find simplicity; From discord find harmony; In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”
~Albert Einstein