Last week I had the pleasure of teaching University students how to darn and mend. I myself learned to darn as a Fairhaven College student sitting on a couch at a sustainability discussion potluck almost 20 years ago. It was good to balance our idealistic theories with some practical skill sharing. (thank you forever, Ned.)
So I was beyond delighted to be paid to pass on these skills to a new generation of Eco Reps from the dormitories and the Department of Sustainability as part of some programing on fast fashion and textile waste.
There was a smart and lovely young woman who had never sewn a button before. Never. I almost can't even imagine how you get through dressing yourself without occasionally needing to replace a button. It was a true honor to teach her a skill that she will be able to use the rest of her life.
It took about five minutes.
That's the thing, most mending doesn't take much time. Or even super special skill. I kept telling these students that there's no one right way to do it. Each repair requires a little creativity. With a few basic stitches and needles you can improvise a fix with what you have around. That's the funky charm of mending, there is no perfect. But whatever you do is an improvement on the thing that was broken.
Obviously working with worn textiles is a major part of my art and calling. I usually cut around stains, holes and weak spots to find the fabric that is still strong and clean. My scissors do the work to find the beauty between the imperfections.
But I also value taking care of the fabric before I take the scissors to it. My own sweater I was wearing that day had seven tiny darns in it. I restitch seams and patch holes and find a special satisfaction in coaxing another season out of a pair of socks.
I think it adds such a heartfelt layer to the story of the garment. In my mind it adds value to clothing to have the extra love and care woven in.
If you want to add some love layers to your own clothing, I am leading another workshop this Thursday Nov 19 up on campus. 3:30-5:30pm, Viking Union 565.
Bring your shirts that need buttons, sweaters with holes, and things that need patches. I'll have fabric, buttons, yarn and basic hand sewing supplies to help you get creative with your repairs.
Free and open to all.