There are so many reasons to get into mending but the best part is turning clothes that fit and flatter into pieces you will treasure and love. Once you add a bit of your personality and love to a garment it will become much loved and worn often.
Let's get started with tools.
I often put off a project or activity I know I’d enjoy because I lack the tools. We've put together a list of tools for beginning menders that's designed to help you over this hurdle.
The first and most important tool you need is a positive can-do attitude. When you are a beginner in anything it can be very intimating to see examples of projects completed by experts. Social media has amplified this. You are mending clothes that you love and clothes that fit and flatter. You are adding a bit of your personality to a garment. You are adding a layer of story and memory. Embrace any imperfections. Don't worry about crooked cutting or uneven stitches- it's all part of the beauty.
Our first mends are going to be denim. We all have a pair of jeans that could use a patch and hopefully a pair of jeans that can be turned into patches. If you don’t have jeans for patch making- look around for a piece of sturdy cotton. Gather the jeans together along with a sharp hand sewing needle, some embroidery thread, scissors, a ruler or tape measure. Another tool I would add to the beginning mending kit is a sweater comb. This is such an easy and fun way to refresh sweaters. I keep my tools in a sweet bag so whenever I want to mend I only have to find the bag not all the tools.
Of course, once you get started with mending you’re going to love it and there are tools for every job. But- you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get started, in face, one principal behind mending is to make do and be creative.
Beginning to Mend Tool List-
- fabric for a patch
- sharp hand sewing needle
- a few pins
- embroidery thread
- marker or pencil
We've done a few social posts about the joys of slow stitching. I posted "stitch-meditation" and someone commented knitting is "hand yoga". Did you know knitting and hand stitching have many benefits beyond the sweater, scarf or mended pair of jeans?
Knit for Peace did a study of knitters in the UK and found "that knitting has physical and mental health benefits, that it slows the onset of dementia, combats depression and distracts from chronic pain,” I thought the chronic pain part was interesting but it makes sense, focusing on something else gives you a mental and therefore a physical break. I know I rely on hand work either knitting or hand stitching to help me destress especially after listening to the news.
The Craft Yarn Council sponsors #stitchawaystress in April as part of National Stress Awareness month. This year's campaign is "all about self-care and its intersection with yarn crafts." They'll have all kinds of cool tips including "how to incorporate self-care into your life, meditative stitches to practice, soft yarns to soothe your nerves and so much more!"
I loved Eileen's thoughts on the Stitch Away Stress video where knitting helped her go from "react, react, react to calm down". Kristy spoke about how stitching helped deal with her anxiety and most importantly created an opportunity for breathing. Watching the video made me feel good, sometimes I think the only time I really breath is in yoga class. Now I can consciously expand into breath awareness while stitching.
Don't get stressed if you're new to knitting or crocheting there are plenty of youtube videos and Craft Yarn council's learning center has a list. Even better than a video is a class at your local yarn shop, giving you get stress relief, creativity and community.
A few years ago I discovered the designer and slow fashion advocate Natalie Chanin and her company Alabama Chanin and The School of Making. I bought the book Alabama Studio Sewing + Design and the world of hand-stitching opened up. I stitched every cold winter morning so I can start my day with something good. I made my dress for Carly's wedding using bottle caps as circle tracers. It was such a great project for travel because the materials were easy to pack and therapeutic to use.
Katrina Rodabaugh is another slow stitch inspiration. Her book Mending Matters has specific details for mending mostly jeans including the inner thigh tear. There's a big focus on "how to" with great pictures and lots of details. There's also Katrina's thoughts on "the relationship between fiber art, sustainability, and slow fashion." It's both practical and inspirational.
If you want a bit of community in your stitching think about joining 25 Million Stitches, a public engagement art installation incorporating activism, stitching, community and raising awareness about the plight of refugees worldwide. "There are no bad, ugly, or uneven stitches in this project. Uneven stitches and personal designs make the panels more unique and beautiful. We encourage you to be creative! " It's a chance to be creative and stitch for good but don't wait to get started, panels need to arrive in CA by April 30th.
We hope this blog got you excited about the joys and calming effects of working with your hands. What are you working on? We'd love to hear.