Sometimes you gotta mend...
Looking at a button I need to replace on a sweater, I pondered the humble art of mending. While my country, the US, is probably largely a "throw away" culture, mending clothing and other items is an art that is still practiced or learned anew by those who want to reduce waste, get full wear out of an item, or just can't let go of a favorite article of clothing.
As one would expect, information on the history of mending clothing suggests that during periods and in places when people make their own cloth and clothing by hand, or when resources are scarce, people are more apt to mend their clothes. Reading novels from the 18th or 19th century, women always had a mending basket, with items ready for repair during their few spare minutes.
A StudentSewing/WordPress.com article titled "History of Clothing Repair" describes how soldiers during the American Civil War carried a kit called a "housewife" that included needle, thread, scissors and other sewing supplies so the could repair their uniforms. The article tells how Great Britain, during World War II, rationed clothing and began a "Make Do and Mend" campaign, making available booklets with mending instructions.
Many people my age had grandparents who lived through the Great Depression and continued to save, make do, and mend for the rest of their lives. I also remember popular movements during my lifetime, like in the 70s, when people wanted to simplify their lives and consume less, and mending clothes was part of that. I meet many folks now who are of the same mindset.
There is something satisfying to me about mending an article of clothing. It makes me feel independent, and nicely frugal. I also don't enjoy shopping, so it saves me that stress. I remember my husband's delight when he learned I could patch jeans, repair a pocket or sew on buttons. Very simple of course, but helpful to him. I really should teach him to do it himself, but I think he feels a little cared for when I sew on a button. And we all like to feel a little cared for!
My husband wears through socks so fast, I have given up on keeping up with the mending. Darning socks is a rare skill nowadays. :)
We have a friend who CosPlays and carries a Housewife Kit to conventions in case of wardrobe malfunctions.
It has been very handy to have a repair kit available when traveling as well. Mine has a few needles, a few safety pins, and 3 colors of thread.
You are smart to be so prepared. When I am at belly dance functions the best I do is carry safety pins, a costuming essential. Have you tried darning? I saw a couple of youtube videos that got me interested. But honestly, one more thing...
Beautifully said. I feel the same way. To be honest when times get tight I tend to make anything I can to save money. That was how I learned to darn. It's saved many of my favorite sweaters. And I do think it makes our families feel loved. Thanks for sharing and making me think about good things.
I'm impressed that you darn! I kind of want to learn, after watching some videos on it. And after reading my post, my husband agreed it does make him feel loved when I mend his clothes. He laughed at the thought of me teaching him to mend, really didn't believe I would try!
It's not that hard. Just takes a bit of time....it's really just weaving/sewing. LOL to your hubby. Mine tries but his thing is electronics.
I like mending things too @redbone... Do you have any examples of things you have mended ? I know many people who do not know how to sew buttons... I think it's important to pass on those skills :)
You know, the little I do is so simple, patching and sewing pockets and buttons, it doesn't really provide much of an example. But @fiberartists wrote that she darns - pretty impressive!
This was a really nice relaxing post to read @redbone. Thank you for sharing this with us today and giving us a little history on mending. It was very interesting to read about the soldiers and their mending kits. I mend a lot more than I used to, mainly sewing on buttons and mending tears in our clothing. It makes me feel frugal and independent as well. This was good encouragement to fix things before just throwing them out :)
Thanks! I found it a little poignant to think of lonely young soldiers, far from home, patching their clothes and perhaps thinking of their mothers or wives who usually cared for them.
I know, those were my thoughts too.
Great post, @redbone! Your writings made me think of my great grandmother's button collection in the other room, and how many times I've used it. It actually never occurred to me that people don't repair their clothes until my boyfriend appeared in front of me with a pair of pants and a button in his hand, looking lost and scared. Too funny. Thanks for the great info, and happy #NeedleworkMonday to you, my dear!
I know that lost look - I have salvaged a couple items that my husband might otherwise have throw out! How sweet that you have your great grandmother's button collection... my mother had a jar of buttons, but it disappeared after she died. You comment made me feel nostalgic. Thanks so much!
It's interesting to think of mending as a trend that comes and goes depending not only on people's circumstances, but also on cultural mindset. I definitely appreciate it from the frugality and less waste standpoint!
Hi @redbone, I just stopped back to let you know your post was one of my favourite reads and I included it in my Fiber Ramble. You can read what I wrote about your post here.
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