Thursday, April 12, 2012


Shinique smith, Bale Variant 0011
I think about mending all of the time.  I don't actually do much of it... but I ought to!  I saw an amazing textile sculpture by Shinique Smith in the current Surface Design Journal, made of clothing sent by the bale to third world countries from the USA.  We wear our t-shirts a few times, and  toss them when they are stained, out of fashion, or no longer please us.  As for our other clothes -- well, I for one have long ago run out of closet space, and wonder when I can possibly wear all of these clothes in this lifetime?

One problem is that if anything gets snagged, or torn, or even just a bit worn, we tend to toss it as it is too much trouble to mend.  I assembled a beautiful wardrobe from a very high end outlet store's "mercy rack" where exquisite garments which had a little seam rip or snag or missing button would be relegated: I often spent $10 on a garment that originally cost over $100.  All because people can't, or won't, sew.  And I was able to fix every flaw with great ease.

I have made little mending kits with button-printed tins and sewing items inside (I sell them here in Utopia and call them Utopian Mending kits: "How can you be a Utopian if you can't sew on a button?").

I have made sewing kit "Housewives" for the store at Monticello, based on the common sewing kits that everyone used to carry in their pocket.  In the world wars, British soldiers carried them into battle and shortened the name to "hussif".

 I have printed fabric with odes to sewing and do-it-yourself needle books, and have made historically inspired needle books based on the Harmonist textiles industry of 200 years ago.

I am so busy making these new things that  I still haven't fixed the armholes of the dress I was making last week, or sewn the button back on my daughter's coat, or caught up the ravel in my favorite sweater.

At least I cook meals from scratch!


  1. I sat next to a young girl on an airoplane and she was looking at the hem of her dress,which had unravelled.She was really cross about it, so I said "you can mend that'.She was astonished."You can mend an unravelled hem?".I drew her some little pictures to show her how to do it.She was thrilled- she was going to throw the expensive dress away and it was only the first time she had worn it.
    Hurrah for mending!

  2. We saw your kit at Monticello, Laura! As we prepare to launch Liz, I am wondering (now) whether I have taught her enough housewifery skills. She knows things can be mended, but still passes them to me.

  3. I would post with my name, except I cannot figure out how to do so. Instructions have changed!