Are You Part Of The Mending Brigade?

Last week I went to Oxford to talk to a bunch of Sewists about The Little Book of Sewing. It was SUCH a great event and I met fascinating people from sewing academics to sewing start-ups, teachers to parents to booksellers.

But there was one particular person who intrigued me because she named herself a Mender. It’s a thing! It must be, because it’s on Instagram:

Visible Mending

Tom of Holland

Erin Lewis-Fitzgerald


This all happened in the same week that I repaired the neckline on one of my hand sewn dresses and put aside a pair of culottes for taking in. Was something in the air?

Of course, mending has long been part of the sewing community – like, 100s of years! But this recent focus on mending seems to be part of our current urgent need to address environmental issues. From eschewing disposable facial wipes, to sewing on buttons, we seem to be caring about Planet Earth more than ever before.

Damaged clothes don’t need to be landfill.

Did you know:

  • 350,000 tonnes of used clothing is sent to UK landfills annually
  • Some people still feel embarrassed about visible mending on clothing
  • Historical costumes often bear evidence of repair

I’m in and I’m interested! Do you have any links or opinions to share?

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23 Responses to Are You Part Of The Mending Brigade?

  1. Me too! I was really attracted to the work of Celia Pym who was one of the 12 finalists in the Woman’s Hour Craft Prize last year. It was the first time I’d seen visible mending and I’m glad it’s a thing. Here’s a link

  2. Terry Baker says:

    I teach sewing at Backstitch, a lovely fabric/yarn shop, just outside Cambridge, and one of my colleagues has just stared some classes in visible mending so hopefully it’s going to be a really big thing!

  3. francispaul says:

    I am a novice on mending, but I like to repair clothes. You can see a cardi I did for my daughter and a pair of working jeans for my husband and it’s inspired by and her book Mending Matters

  4. Caroline Joynson says:

    Mending does seem to be in the air at the moment doesn’t it? It’s my fifth year doing Me-Made-May and for the first year I haven’t made anything new but I have mended three pieces of clothing already this month and plan to alter a pair of charity shop trousers and fix a top before the month is out! Visible mending is definitely more acceptable and its a good thing!

  5. JenL says:

    I’ve long loved Japanese sashiko, which was originally a means of reusing cloth. Also, sock darning can be really peaceful…

  6. Irene M Stratton says:

    I repair things at the Oxford Repair Cafe…….. it’s every 2 months.

  7. If I mend something, I have more money to spend on something else. That makes it simple for me. Sewing on a button or patching those jeans isn’t a bad way to spend my time. And I feel so successful in the end.

  8. suth2 says:

    I have always been a mender and a repurposer with knitted articles. Frogging and knitting into something else.

  9. Deb says:

    I have always mended my clothes! It is a thing now? I find it confusing that ripped jeans and visible mending are both so hot now. And mending the knees on jeans? Seriously what adult crawls around on his/her knees so often they wear through their jeans.
    Mending. Yes…but why do we as a culture get on these huge trends. Mending for the sake of joining in on a trend seems silly.

  10. Trudynew says:

    It’s about time mending, whether visible or not, became a ‘thing’. Throwing garments away – it happens – because they have lost a button is ridiculous & wasteful. I suspect lack of skill; mending being seen as a waste of precious time or just a lust for the latest cheap and therefore poor quality things are all forces at play. Sorry to rant but it makes my blood boil! Yes, I am a mender!

    • Irene says:

      A work colleague told me that her dad said “If a button falls off your cardigan – time for a new one”….. I’m going to teach her to sew on a button.

  11. I prefer to call it repairing, or sometimes repurposing, but yes, absolutely. My problem is knowing when to call it quits. I have one jacket that I’ve repaired far too many times. I say that because the elbows are now shiny and the fabric no longer black but somewhat grey. I can’t bear to part with it because it still an excellent cut, a good fit, and lightweight enough to be extremely useful for work almost all-year-round. Well, it would be if it weren’t so worn out! 😉

    • Beth Duffus says:

      You could lift the pattern from it and make a new one. I do this quite a bit with favourite shop-bought clothes that are just done because I’ve worn them so often. Lots of YouTube stuff to help with the process.

    • jan says:

      sometimes you don’t have to cut it up to make a pattern. You can lay it on paper and trace the pieces and get a basic pattern. I tried this first with a tee shirt pattern that ended up a nightgown pattern and made me smart about making patterns for my daughter. I’m sure you could do it if you have had it that long. You will know every inch of it by heart.

  12. Sharon says:

    I agree. If you can’t fix it, reuse it. I have been buying clothes to reuse the fabric or leather. I want to take my favorite jeans & add fabric to the outside seam & waste band. What better use than my husband’s old worn & soft jeans?

  13. stitchesoftime says:

    I have always mended and repurposed clothing and I am currently doing a lot of research about Make do and Mend during WW2 as I am going to be doing a display at a WW2 event in a couple of weeks. There was some great advice published during the war about all sorts of mending, I would recommend this book which is a reproduction of Make do and Mend leaflets and is a real bargain

    This one is also fab, a reproduction of a 1940s Sew and Save book

  14. sewsew2015 says:

    Yep, I am a long term mender! Initially I mended clothing and household linens from necessity, now it is just part of everyday life. I married a ‘mender’ of all things electrical, wooden and metal. Despite my best efforts to teach them, our grown up children never caught the mending bug, but frequently ask me to repair favourite jeans sew on buttons and stitch up hems.

  15. Becky says:

    I have always been a mender, even had requests for my visible mending about 20 years ago. I frequently re-purpose clothes that no longer fit what they were originally bought for. If you are going to invest in good quality clothes you can get many more years of wear with a little investment of time repairing!!!

  16. Bekky says:

    I love mending as an art form in itself, on one of my recent trips to Tokyo I was lucky to visit the Amuse Museum. They have an exhibition on boro, the humble art of mending clothes that was an economic necessity but creates the most incredible fabric Well worth the admission and a few hours examining the work.

  17. jan says:

    I love to mend clothes! Sometimes I remake them a little in order to put them into use again! I love it because there is not a much pressure, I don’t have to worry about fit and sometimes you can add a little ornamentation in the mending. Just think of a knee patch with a design of embroidery or colored thread or something like that. My sewing teacher in 7th grade, Miss Mitchell, talked about darning a skirt so well you didn’t notice the repair. I would love to have that skill, but I settle for just making something more useful or comfortable.

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