It’s a dying art.
I’m talking about mending clothes. In my experience, many of the generation of women before mine made it a point of pride to regard the gentle domestic arts as beneath their dignity as liberated women, describing domestic skills as being under-valued ‘women’s work’ and taking no pride in practising household economy. I come at the end of a large family, and my mother was older than most. She’d raised children in the dark days of wartime Holland, when food and clothing were terribly scarce, and she knew these skills were not to be despised, but rather treasured. So I learned to cook and sew and mend, and stretch what I had, rather than throwing away, buying new and wasting resources.
I snort with disgust when I hear anyone, male or female, declare with pride that they can’t cook and don’t know how to sew on a button. Good grief! Imagine being so helpless! I do concede that it’s only partially their fault. They weren’t taught how. But these things are not hard to learn, and knowing how is so much cheaper than paying someone else to do it and quicker than waiting while they do.
So, I’m issuing a challenge to everyone who’s reading this. Mend something. It doesn’t have to be sewing. Fix it instead of throwing it out or putting it in the shed for Ron (That’s Later Ron, you must have met him). Sew on that button, stitch up that loose thread, put a bit of glue on that flappy thing, screw that other loose thing back down. Save the cost of replacing it, and feel a bit clever as a result. It doesn’t take much to make a start: a few simple tools. Once you’ve done it once, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it earlier. There are a thousand YouTube videos and blog posts and online tutorials for mending things. Go and find out how to do it. People who mend are neither crazy nor geniuses. We’re just ordinary people who don’t believe in throwing stuff out when all it needs is 15 minutes of your attention.
And when you’ve mended something, let us know. Write and talk about it. Encourage other people. Be proud. If you’ve written a post about mending things that you think will help someone else, send me a link and I’ll add it below.
Maybe we can revive the dying art of mending. What do you think?
NOTE: I have edited this post since I first published it, hopefully making it clearer that the opinion expressed is based on my personal experiences rather than a sweeping generalisation about the attitudes of women in the 1960s.
Mending torn seat of jeans:
Mending old torn shirts:
Mending a quilting hoop:
Mending a torn down-filled jacket:
Mending a leather purse:
Mending a swing seat cushion:
Mending a fabric purse: