Mending Thoughts

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The exhibit I saw on Scraps at the Cooper Hewett     began with this piece

it's a darning exercise  that you can read about here. Mending was a necessary life skill in the days when clothing was expensive. mending with skill meant the difference between your family being warm and clothed or not. 


About fifteen years ago there was an exhibit at the New York Historical Society about sewing in New York. A challah cover I had made was part of that exhibit, but that's not why I am mentioning the exhibit right now. One of the pieces in the exhibit that really has haunted me was a bit of a workman's denim garment from the late 19th century.  The denim was mended with such beauty. The mend was both utilitarian and also incredibly beautiful. The mend added a subtle texture to the work clothing. I guess what touched me so much about that bit of mended denim was that the careful hand work was the sort one sees now on on the most expensive of textiles and it was used to mend the most utilitarian of garments.

Mending has been on my mind. My youngest returned home from college and some of his favorite pants had developed holes. I set to work mending those holes. I mended a few pairs but only photographed the work on one of the pairs of pants. 

Inspired by the piece I had seen at the Cooper Hewett, I threaded a needle and started the task by hand. After just a couple of moments I realized that my son's ancient jeans could be repaired much more quickly and more sturdily with my sewing machine.

I backed the areas that I planned to mend with fabric scraps to strengthen the mend and shorten my stitching time.

I built up areas of stitching.


A cellphone and a wallet have put strain on the area just below the back pocket.

I blended the colors to tone down the visual intensity of the mend.

There is a nice little Zen moment my head gets into after enough of the mending. It is a task that I start with a touch of dread. Part of the way into the task I really get into the repetitive movement and the improved strength of the textile.


My work on this repair is crude. It is never going to end up on the walls of a museum --ever, and yet, I feel a kinship  with AHL from 1723 who carefully learned how to mend with artistry.

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