I like mending. Not the actual act of mending something, but the whole principle behind it. In our throwaway culture, mending something stands out as someone caring, both for their possessions and for the planet.
When I was growing up, there was a mending basket, mostly full of wool socks. And there was darning wool in shades of brown, grey and dull green. Can you even buy darning wool any more? It came in loose hanks and it was fine enough to weave a neat darn across a toe. I learnt to do it, although my darns were sometimes on the chunky side.
An elderly relative told me a while back how when she was young and the sheets wore away with age, you would cut them in half up the middle, swap the pieces around so that the outer edges were together, and sew them back up. So you ended up with a soft faded white sheet that had a seam up the centre and the thin worn parts on the edge.
I'm not under any illusions as to how hard it must be not to be able to afford new things when you need them, but I do think it's sometimes too easy to throw things into landfill and buy more. We care very little for the cheap modern imports that are sold in vast quantities. Giant brightly coloured plastic toys (and millions and millions of small ones) and every imaginable non-essential item are destined for the rubbish tip after a short life. Mountains and mountains of brittle black plastic electrical units, turned swiftly into garbage. I know I'm guilty of this too. Somehow these things slip into my life. I'm going to try harder to cut right down on them.
It infuriates me when someone tells me something can't be mended. Some things are built with a deliberately short life expectancy. Some things are built into sealed units so that small parts can't be replaced. It's wrong, the world can't sustain this sort of enforced consumerism. Everyone knows this, but the thirst for money and possessions drives it ever onwards.
Mending is something that happens a lot around here. I sew, I stick, I nail. A faded quilt is stitched with matching cream thread. A tear in the sofa cushion is machined in almost identical brown, a throw is darned in gold that barely shows. The boys of course test my mending abilities to the full. A while back they managed to snap the lid of the tan wood toy box. They thought they had me for a while, but I glued and nailed on some chipboard and battens and it all works again. It's not the prettiest thing in the world, but it's functional, and I'm happy to live with imperfection.
Someone (and the golfer is the number 1 suspect) has smashed in the door of the empty guinea pig hutch. If you need me, I'll be sizing up the hole.
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Good for you CJ; I'm impressed with your mending skills. I once tried darning L's tights when she fell over in the playground whilst wearing a new pair - poor child could barely bend her knee by the time I'd finished! The colour matched though and I sent her off to school telling her that no-one would notice - she came home later with tales of a game involving her 'darn with magical powers'. Apparently, everyone wanted one! Good luck with the guinea pig hutch. xxReplyDelete
Sheets 'sides to middle' were a common thing in my 1960s Fenland childhood. As were jumpers and cardigans unpicked and unravelled to reuse the wool for a new garments.ReplyDelete
This is a great post CJ and one I agree wholeheartedly with. We're menders too. I beadily eye anything that looks to be on its way out for the spare parts I can glean from it- zips buttons fabric for me, component parts to make circuits for L and anything wooden for M. I tried darning once with (very) mixed results so am v impressed with your ability to do it! xxxReplyDelete
Things with mends in them have great character. When I pick up vintage items that have been through the wars a bit I'm often wondering about their history: what happened to them and the lives of those who did the mend. Far more interesting than having something new.ReplyDelete
It sounds as though you have a lot of mending on your hands in many different ways! I hate things that you cannot mend, it makes me cross too. I do get rid of things, but try to rehome them and rarely just "toss" things. It makes me crazy too! xxReplyDelete
You certainly do a lot of mending, I try to repair and make do and mend as much as I can but I would rather reuse the fabric from a old sheet into a pillowcase and dish cloths as I don't like seams in the sheets.ReplyDelete
We mend here too ---- along with keeping cars for a long, LONG time.ReplyDelete
We fix everything and hardly ever throw anything away. It's the money, in part, but it's also this idea we have that you need to use things up. I don't even like new things most of the time, I'd rather have them already lived-in and even slightly shabby for some things. Even our cars are old, a 2006 and a 1999. We just fix them and they keep going and going.ReplyDelete
I thoroughly agree with you. I so much prefer well-made, good quality items that can be repaired whenever necessary. All this plastic rubbish drives me mad!ReplyDelete
My mum used to 'sides to middle' her old sheets, and when they finally were no longer usable on the beds she took the best bits for other things - PE bags, pudding cloths, cleaning cloths - and sewed the remaining strips into dust sheets for my dad to use.ReplyDelete
You're so right, as a society we are way too quick to throw things away. Inbuilt obsolence is an evil thing!
I like your attitude to mending. It strikes me that I'm a bit of a hypocrite - I like mending if it's fun, creative and colourful, but real honest-to-goodness mending I'm not so hot at. I leave that to John, or my Dad who is a champion mender. But the throwaway attitude towards electrical items depresses me profoundly. So often we've looked into having a large item, like a fridge or tv, repaired only to find out that either no-one can do it, or it'll be so expensive as to be barely worth bothering. xReplyDelete
this has been my favorite word from your collaborative...and I so agree with every bit of what you said. I never thought of the slit sheet, resewn.....although I do have some 'jammies' made from an old sheet that was destined for the rag bin! I love mending! I wish I was better at it.....lots of practice and I'll get better!ReplyDelete
You are so right that the enforced consumerism can't be sustained. I wish we as a society were doing something to combat it or teach our kids differently. We try at home, but even at school now they aren't "allowed" to bring last year's pencil crayons, everything must be colour coded and my friends dread trying to find the right supplies, many of which return unopened but are not on the next year's list, and the cycle continues...it's disheartening and sometimes a lonely battle. Posts like this remind us we are not the only ones mending and making do. Thank you!ReplyDelete
Good for you on the mending and trying not to add a lot to the landfill. My two grandsons bring me all their stuffed toys to fix.. I love doing it for them. We have driven 4980 miles on our trip and are spending our last night in a hotel.. tomorrow evening.. home. Cannot be soon enough. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)ReplyDelete
Not only did my grandmother split sheets up the middle and re-seam them, when the 'new' middle wore out she trimmed away the ragged bits and made slips, nighties and underpants for her granddaughters. I don't think I wore anything but 'sheet' underwear until I started going to school.ReplyDelete
I love the make do and mend philosophy, but have to say that I'm as guilty as many of throwing things away when, perhaps with time and effort, they could have been saved. I went to a decorative living fair in the spring where there were some beautiful pieces of antique linen and some had been neatly and expertly mended; I think it's what made these pieces so beautiful, they had been loved. Keep mending CJ, I will try to follow your example. Have a great weekend. Jane xxReplyDelete
Hear hear! Up with mending!ReplyDelete
I find that for me there's an emotional connection to something I've had for years. It's like an inanimate family member, and I can't bear the thought of tossing things away just because of a few holes or cracks or loose threads. (This is why my sock drawer contains ancient specimens from the 1990s and my jeans collection spans every cut known to the world of fashion. The only time I get rid of jeans is when I outgrow them. Then they go into the fabric collection to be used for future mending jobs. And I'd better not get started on our bath towels, some of which are as old as our marriage....)
I found myself nodding whilst reading this post as this just what my mother did, and she would be appalled at today's wasteful throw-away society. Flighty xxReplyDelete
Yes, I get annoyed at the throwaway approach, I really do. I prefer the approach my grandparents and parents took: save up, buy quality, take care of it and repair when necessary. I also hate excessive packaging. Why are supermarkets, suppliers and so on not taken to task on this? We now have four hulking wheelie bins outside and they look awful. We shouldn't need them.ReplyDelete
People sometimes buy Joe big plastic toys and it bothers me greatly. I try and donate them, once they're outgrown, to charity or local playgroups. But to be honest I'd rather not have them in the first place.
I am proud of the fact that my wardrobe's bursting at the seams but the vast majority of the stuff is years old and still loved.
Good luck with the hutch! Have a great weekend.
I don't like waste. But it has also become part of my problem of not getting rid of things that are not being used and yet still getting more. I have been known to put a new button on something before I put it in the charity basket, because even if I'm not going to wear it, it really needs a button, weird? Anyhow I like to try to find things home more than throw things out, but that takes time and effort as well, so it is slow going for me, amidst the chaos of life's schedule.ReplyDelete
On a similar note, a friend of mine and I were looking online at a website that sold super cheap summer dresses and we just kept saying, this can't be right. Like what soul, what labor, whose laboring at what cost? So shadey no purchases will be made. I feel like I need to give that pause to a lot more of traffic of goods in and out of the apartment. What's the story behind this besides, ooo pretty new cheap thing?
Sorry for the rambles dear. Have a good weekend.
Oh I so agree with you. My Nan is a real WW housewife and still has the 'waste note' coursing through her veins so strongly all these years later. She definitely would have cut and re-sewn sheets. Even clothes, when they absolutely could not be worn any more would be kept and cut up to be used as cleaning cloths around the house. I like to think I have a little of her mentality too, but probably not enough and I think you've just reminded me that I should always look to see if I can fix before I throw!ReplyDelete
I think things are designed with a finite shelf life so you have to buy again. Don't know whether this is an urban myth but I heard that someone invented an everlasting tyre and a tyre company bought the patent and promptly scrapped it.ReplyDelete
A great blog. I agree there is too much throwing away these days without mending or recycling. My granny used to turn the sheets when they were worn, then once they were beyond use as sheets they were ripped up into squares to uses as dusters, clothes for shining shoes or rags for my Dad when he was working on his landrover or steam engines. Continual and endless recycling. We are trying to do the same at home and in the nursery, every little helps.ReplyDelete
Another mender here as well, CJ. As my son packed for his Europe travels yesterday, I nipped out a needle and thread to mend a hole I found in the pocket of one of his sweatshirts. And as I hate breaking in new jeans, I always patch those. My favourite gardening jeans (good stretch factor for all that bending over!) are about to give up the ghost; they've been patched once already but I'm sure could take another patch or two… ! (And, yes, I was taught to darn socks at school by a complete perfectionist of a needlework teacher; you can imagine how that went!) xxReplyDelete
Mending is good for the soul I think. I do enjoy the pleasure a well mended item gives me. Some continental sock yarns contain a small ball of heel reinforcement yarn tucked inside, it is useful for darning socks. I don't darn socks, at least not the shop bought ones. They seem to disintegrate very suddenly and completely. xxReplyDelete
I feel very guilty after reading this. I never mend. Marc can mend furniture and stuff around the house. I can barely see a button. I always mean to, but then I don't. I re-purpose though. Am I off the hook?
This is a great blog and great comments too! I am not a great mender but am very lucky to be married to someone who is. My grandmother was a WW2 bride and did all the business of turning collars, sides to middling of sheets, darning socks. I am quite good at repurposing and very good at just not buying things. I hope that is my contribution!ReplyDelete
That really made me think of my youth! My mum would always repair sheets in just the way you described. Sadly I was always aware of the seam in the middle once they had been mended. Monday was washing day in our house. Tuesday was ironing and mending and usually socks using her wooden mushroom. B xReplyDelete