The lost art of mending

How many articles of clothing do you throw away each year that could be salvaged with a little effort?



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When I was getting Baby Girl ready to go off to university, one of the things on my Must Teach Her list (along with how to clean a toilet) was how to mend her own clothes. I like mending. It’s not because I’m cheap. Really. It’s NOT. It’s because I can’t stand the idea of throwing out something simply because there’s an open seam, a missing button, or some other small flaw that a needle and thread, new button, and strategically placed patch will easily fix.

Once upon a time our grandparents even mended socks. It was called darning and they did it because it was cheaper than buying new. Now, in our very disposable society, it’s so cheap to buy new that we’ve lost the desire and the skills to fix our stuff.

We hardly ever mend our clothes anymore. It isn’t worth our time and effort. So we turn button-less shirts into cleaning rags and we pile clothes into the Goodwill box rather than thread the needle. (Hey, I can still thread a needle without my glasses!)

If you’ve never sewn on a button or fixed a hem that’s fallen, it’s time to learn. Mending your stuff means less crap sent to the landfills and more use out of what you buy … which means less spending overall and more savings. Go ahead and try. All you have to lose is whatever you couldn’t wear anyway. What you have to gain is an incredibly useful skill.

If you’re using the fact that you don’t have a sewing kit as your excuse, head to the dollar store, buy a pack of needles and a roll of white thread, and get started. Start your own button barrel: each time you do have stuff you’re gonna dump, trim off the buttons first and add them to your barrel. (Yes it can be an old jam jar or coffee tin.)

You can accumulate a solid mending kit over time, adding new colours of thread as you need them. Or ask for your mother-in-laws extras. She’ll be impressed by your thriftiness!

3 comments on “The lost art of mending

  1. Good job Gail! These are life skill we should teach our children. I taught these things to all my children (the boys too), even sent little mini-mending kits with them to college. Also taught them to iron a shirt and pants. So if you see a college kid with wrinkled pants that are 2 inches to long for him, he's not mine! :)


  2. never mind just mending, I darn my socks, even my trouser socks. guess that makes me a sad old granny :)


  3. Gee Gail, you waited until university age to teach your child to clean a toilet? My son was taught that particular skill before age 6. My motto is "if you can pee in it, on it, or around it, you can wash it!" He does his own laundry too!

    On the other topic, yes I mend stuff – my dearest late Mother, as survivor of WWII in Germany, was a whizz at mending and remaking clothing, and made sure I could do all these things. My dearest hubby who left home (with a Granny and Momma taking total care of him) to get married, got the toilet lesson and the button sewing lesson very early in our marriage. It's just part of living in a household – caring for your items.

    OK, I don't darn – that's too complicated for my hands, I find.


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