The Art of MendingFrancesca Palange
Showcasing craft, as we do here at NSN Magazine, is often a unique and varied job. We get articles, expertise, samples, and books shared with us.
A bumper crop becomes a chance to discover, spark new ideas, and experiment.
When a book arrives with an original title containing an archaic term – like ‘mending’ – we immediately want to leaf through it, take in its contents, and examine the photos.
Mending Mattersby Katrina Rodabaugh is one of those books.
The visual layout is inspiring, thanks in part to the photos which speak for themselves.
The truth is, for those who have lived through a good few decades like yours truly, the word ‘mending’ takes us back to the days when it was a common activity. We mended socks long and short, the odd rip in our children’s trousers and jackets, and we patched our dishcloths (which then became pot holders or dusters when we couldn’t use them for their original purpose any more).
We mended nylon stockings. I still remember the shop we took them for a professional job (sometimes I went with my grandmother!).
We mended clothes, both men’s and women’s. Being a mender was a well-respected job.
We mended our (knitted) jumpers using a ‘knitting stitch’ (I still know how to do it!).
In short, the needle, thimble, thread, and scissors were an important part of the home and daily life.
The sewing box, with all its tools at arm’s reach, and the sewing machine were a familiar sight.
Then, the world changed. It started to produce on a huge scale and at rock-bottom prices, using artificial fibres. It started to buy more and throw things away without a further thought, to make room for the latest fashions.
In a few decades, the situation reached a disturbing point. It became, quite frankly, unsustainable.
Within this context, a new consciousness was born. Sewing was given a modern and appealing makeover, joining the increasing number of ‘salvage’ projects. These projects could be the magic formula which takes us back to a more sustainable and rewarding lifestyle, one which could even inspire the younger generations to try crafts which may appear archaic but are in fact full of potential.
In this regard, Katrina’s book is full of inspiration and advice, from the description accompanying the very first project – Make Thrift Mend– right up to the individual creations shown in the book.
It is organised into eight chapters with twenty-two projects in total. The book’s unifying thread comes from several pages scattered within, where people from Katrina’s scene share their reflections.
And there’s more. Along with each project’s explanation and photos, each chapter contains a series of special boxes which tackle fundamental themes (The beauty of handstitches, Insightsonmendfulness, The creative opportunity in repair, Why mending matters, Slow fashion is a revolution). These constitute a second reading of the text, dedicated to the theory which supports the practical projects.
If, once upon a time, mending was an inherent part of the economics of each home, today it is an activity we should salvage and value once again. One we should take up the mantle for within this culture of waste, dehumanised work, and pervasive idea of ‘throwaway’.
And, of course, we should do this by embracing new expressions and creative techniques, for the sustainable fashion of the future.
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