So you’ll never guess what I have been doing this past day or so. Or maybe you will. I have been mending! Yes, I have. Moi. The girl who hates sewing with a passion has discovered that I have a heretofore hidden passion for mending. It all started with the reading I did last week for my Fashion Revolution post. All about respecting clothes, taking care of them, making them last longer, and trying to become at least a small part of the Fashion Revolution.
I’ve always looked after my clothes, tried to make them last a long time. I dry-clean jackets at the end of the season, wash blouses and sweaters by hand when necessary, carefully dry sweaters flat and store them properly, change out of good clothes when cooking or just sitting around the house. Of course I sew buttons back on. I have treasured pieces repaired or altered. But I have never made much of an effort to mend holes, or seams on older clothes. And hemming pants is an anathema to me. I hate doing it myself. I cannot explain this.
I mean, I know that I hate to sew. The kind of sewing that involves cutting big swaths of cloth, and using patterns and a sewing machine. Shudder. It’s like the machine has more control than I do, and it just will NOT do as I say. I know the basics of how to run a sewing machine. I’ve made a few things over the years. Not many. The fuming and swearing while I did it made for an upset household while the sewing was taking place. And the results were not worth all the palaver.
But when I was a kid, I loved to sew clothes for my Barbie dolls by hand. Using scraps of material that Mum had lying around, I’d drape the fabric onto the doll, then pin and cut off the excess, make arm holes and necklines to fit with my little scissors. Then I’d remove the result and sew the seams by hand, finally turning the little garment inside out. And voila. A Barbie dress that fit Barbie exactly as I wanted it to fit.
These early adventures in fashion design were inspired by Penny, our neighbour who was a beautiful seamstress. Mum paid her to make me some Barbie clothes as a gift one Christmas. And they were lovely. A tiny wedding dress with a veil attached to a pillbox hat, a strapless purple velvet evening gown with a fake fur stole, each garment was perfect. Much better than the store-bought outfits.
So I cannot explain why I went from loving to fashion clothes for my dolls to hating anything to do with sewing. As Philip Henslowe says frequently in Shakespeare in Love, it’s a mystery.
Anyway, yesterday I turned over a new leaf.
Hubby came out of the kitchen yesterday morning in his pyjama pants and tee shirt, holding his morning cup of tea, telling me what he was planning for the day. He turned and I saw the six-inch split down the seam on one leg of his PJ pants. He really does need a new pair of pyjama pants, I thought. Or does he?
Anyway, after he dressed and went out to the garden, I grabbed the pants and my needle and thread. And I had a lovely morning mending interlude. With a cup of tea by my elbow, plugged into my latest audio book on my phone, I stitched in the sunshine on the sofa in our sun room. It was quite relaxing, actually. No fuming and swearing at all. And I felt pleased with myself in the end. And with the mending job.
So this morning, I mended my own pyjama pants. They are an ancient pair of loose, light, pink cotton pants. I love them. They helped me survive shingles the summer I could not bear to wear real clothes. I have never been able to find a pair I like as much as these. And I have tried. But they are pretty sad looking now, or they were until this morning. The soft fabric that covers the elastic at the waist was ripping away, shredding almost. So I sat down and did the same thing as yesterday: tea, audiobook, thread, needle, sunshine, sun room. Sigh. “I could get to like this,” I thought.
After I mended my pyjama pants I set off for my walk, feeling as if I’d achieved my one productive thing for the day. And it wasn’t even eleven o’clock. Ha. Plus according to stats I found in my research last week, if my two mended garments last another nine months, “the carbon, water, and waste footprint made by the manufacture of each item has been cut by 20-30%.” That’s pretty satisfying. And for just a few minutes of work sitting in the sunshine.
So I haven’t really racked up a mound of finished mending. Yet. Next up is a treasured old sweatshirt bought when I still worked at Nepean High School pre-1999, and emblazoned with the school letters. I can’t get rid of it. So I wear it camping, but the holes in the elbows are making it too ventilated to be much use. Patches, I think. I don’t want to use iron-on patches; I want lovely, soft, stitched-on fabric patches.
As I walked I mulled over what I had that I might use for patches. And when I came home I dug out the lower legs of an old pair of skinny jeans. I cut them off for shorts last summer, and put the leftover pieces of denim in my knitting basket. The denim is old and soft and will work a treat. You know, this mending thing is becoming almost as fun as designing Barbie doll clothes.
I must tell you that when I started this post, Hubby and I tried to come up with a suitably alliterative collective noun for a bunch of mending. “A murder of mending, like with crows,” I suggested. “A mountain, a murmuration?”
“How about a miasma of mending?” Hubby asked. “Ha.” I retorted. “Only if I’m mending your socks. Now, that would be a distinctly odiferous mound of mending.”
There may have been eye-rolling at that.
Now… how about you, my friends? What productive thing did you achieve today? Doesn’t have to be mending. Could be anything.