17 February 2010

Mending and repairing - revisited

I slept in this morning.  I was exhausted last night and still feel tired.  I don't have time to write now because I have a deadline today for a writing assignment.  I'll be back tomorrow with another reader's kitchen  photos.  In the meantime, I hope you enjoy re-reading, or reading for the first time, this post from January 2008.  Is about the important skills of mending and repairing.

There is mending to be done today. When I stripped the bed yesterday, I noticed a tiny rip just under Hanno's pillow. The cotton sheet is thinning, but it's still worthy of repair. Mending will give that sheet at least another summer with us before it goes on to other duties like polishing clothes, tomato stake ties or wipes for Airedale beards.

I have to tell you I love mending. It is one of those cherished homemaker duties that really connects me to this life we are living. It is a firm reminder that Hanno and I don't want to live in a throw-away world, that we care for what we own and we reduce, reuse, repair, recycle, renovate and revive. We are renegades and rebels, we don't throw much out. We want to resuscitate the planet, we are into renewal, we want to make reparation. Okay, enough of the "re" words. LOL

I am ashamed to tell you that back in my free-spending years I would throw away a perfectly good shirt or pants rather than repair them. That included throwing away clothes that just needed a button sewn on. : - ( I wish I could take back all those wasteful times but the best I can do now is to make sure I remain a good steward. Whatever needs to be repaired here now, is, and not wasted in the ever growing piles of "landfill" rubbish dumps.

Sometimes I come across a small rip or missing button in the course of my day but I usually find mending jobs when I'm washing or ironing. I make sure now that I look carefully at the fabrics and fasteners and put aside any that need repair. I have a spot in my sewing room where broken clothes and household goods sit until I have enough for a mending session. In the past couple of weeks, I've sewn on a number of buttons, reinforced handles on cloth shopping bags, and patched an old business shirt of Hanno's so he can wear it in the garden. Today I have the sheet to repair and I will also strengthen the top of a zipper on a pair of shorts and hand stitch the hem.

If you're new to mending and repairing, there is a nice little guide here that might help you. Get into the habit of collecting any buttons you find in your home. Have a small (recycled) jar handy to collect them so that when you find the shirt or dress with the button missing, you'll know exactly where to go to the find the matching button. When you're ironing, check hems and collars so you can repair them before they get out of hand. I remember my mother removing collars to turn them over on my dad's shirts. I have no doubt this almost doubled the life of his shirts. I haven't had to turn any collars yet, but it's something I will do in the future.

Here are other guides on how to sew darn a sock or a jumper/sweater, how to sew on a button and how to mend a tear (video). This is a lovely article about mending and the art of living.

I'm off to tidy my sewing room and start my mending. I hope you're having a good week and that you enjoy your time reading here. I send warm hugs to all of you.


  1. A very timely post- I have a pile of mending sitting at home and was just planning to get to it tonight. I have a big batch of "new" clothes that need buttons reinforced, small tears mended, etc. My girlfriends and I have a clothing swap (we call them "Naked Lady Parties") every several months, and I always come away with a big pile of clothing for the next season. Everything has been worn so it takes a few minutes of mending to get everything in shape, but this way whenever we get tired of our wardrobes, we have another party and get a new batch of clothing for free! It's a great system- I have only bought 3 items of clothing in the last year (all of them secondhand).

    Oregon, USA

  2. Thank you for posting this. My favorite flannel sheets just developed a tear - with the information you provided, I'm inspired to try to fix them.


  3. Take care of yourself Rhonda. We've had a non-steamy night for the first time in several weeks and it sure makes for a better night's sleep.

  4. I'm usually good about repairing things but never thought about mending a sheet. I just got rid of a ripped sheet a couple of months ago...next time I will mend it. Thank you.

  5. I have never been interested in repairing small tears in clothing or linen, either. My nan tried teaching me to darn once with this wooden darning thing but I couldn't manage it. I am not a fan of hand sewing but would like to try to get back into it, but the beginnings of arthritis in one hand might have a say in that. I prefer machine patches I guess.

  6. Sounds like you need a wee rest today after youre writing assignment is finished Rhonda. It is a lovely wet day on the sunshine coast for writing today. Good luck. I patched my little boys tear on his sheet with a piece of camoflage material from an old pair of his trousers and he thinks it is so cool!
    Many blessings

  7. I love darning socks... When I'm really busy with work and my toddler among other things, it's nice to have something that doesn't feel like a *project*.
    Any mending I do is usually small enough, but darning socks is so much more personal somehow. I like to darn socks in bright colors so I and my husband both notice we're wearing mended socks :D He thinks it's funny to wear a cheap cotton sock with a big pink patch on the heel. Sometimes, I even stitch a cute note onto the toes-like 'LOL' or 'Toes!' to make my husband laugh.

    To darn, I just use a large plastic easter egg leftover from some easter. It's a handy shape and it can hold my embroidery floss and darning needles :) I definitely recommend getting actual cotton/wool darning needles because it makes the job go much more smoothly. It also saves your fingers!

  8. Buttons are EXPENSIVE! I worked for Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts for about 5 years. It was one of those items everyone waited for a 50% off sale. Now I collect buttons from clothing I see in other peoples trash piles. It's crazy what all is thrown away.

  9. I remember this post well, and it's always a good reminder. In fact I have a sweater that the buttons need to be tightened up on and a glove with a hole in the finger sitting in the chair across from me as I write this....

    I know you're incredibly busy but I just posted something tonight asking about gardening suggestions..if you had time to look at the picture and offer any suggestions, I'd greatly appreciate it!

    Hope you are well Rhonda! Relish those extra moments of sleep--it's always good to listen to what the body is telling you...

  10. This must be a meme... I just repaired a quilt last night! Again, thanks for the timely post~

  11. What a beautiful link you provided about the man doing mending for others. It makes my heart sing when I hear of people doing good for others out of the generosity of their hearts. When we have love for others, God's love is perfected in us.

  12. I have to say I have repaired a tear in my sons sheets once that was 3 feet long. He must have been running in his sleep as usual. LOL
    should make a spot for odd button finds...I could be more on top of that. ----Krystal

  13. I really love your blog Rhonda, it's so warm and welcoming.
    Yes, this is a timely post I just reattached the chest pocket on my husband's thawb (long shirt), and he needed the button tightened on the cuff. I applied each stitch with love.
    Thanks for the reminders.

  14. Knowing a collar can be turned has saved me a lot of money recently. A synthetic shirt was burnt recently and it was new. Turning the collar saved the purchase of another. I prefer to hand sew though!

    Don't melt and I hope you didn't suffer too much damage in the recent rains. So much topsoil washed away here.

  15. I love your simple living pieces so much that I have been printing them out to store in my folder. You should put out a book on simple living, i know there are heaps out there already but your pieces are so easy to read and understand compared to some of the books that i have seen.

    Its nice to know that i am not the only person out there who enjoys mending. I enjoy it i just don't have the time for it right now with an eight week old baby in the house.

  16. This is a dying art and I must confess I don't do mending eg with socks etc.. they usually get thrown away and new ones bought.

  17. Some of my husband's trousers have more of my thread than the original. They have mended many times over the years. When he lost weight, he just started wearing braces (or suspenders, depending where you are from!) to get more wear out of them.

    My son's school uniform trousers I buy long at the beginning of the year, hem them up, then let them down as needed throughout the year, mend the knees, replace ripped seams and cut them off to make shorts to wear for the end of the school year in the Spring and Summer. And if still usable when he grows out of them, give them to the school to sell in their used uniform sales or use for spares at school. A lot of reincarnations for one pair of trousers!

    A couple of favorite t-shirts with designs on the front ended up with stains and/or holes at the bottom, I just made them into pillows, cutting off or hiding the bad bits. The fav t-shirts owners were thrilled.

    Turning a collar is one I hadn't thought of but will be doing in the future!

    I've been mending and remodelling clothes for so long, I don't know any other way. It can be a fun challenge to find new uses for old things. It's all in how you look at it, I guess.

  18. I have often looked at collars and wondered about turning them. However the method of manufacture these days usually seems to produce a collar where the underside is quite uneven and even if ironed would still look very wrinkled. I suspect it may only be achievable with more expensive shirts which are made and stiffened in the traditional way.

    Of course I suppose you could always take the collar off and where it as a collarless shirt instead.

    I have just spent several evenings happily darning moth holes in a favourite wool throw, keeps your knees warm whilst you work!

  19. Thank you for your beautiful post. I mended a sheet and a short for sports yesterday evening.In my black woolen coat I made a new lining and I took a nice pink color for it so my coat looks as new. My older sister knitted a beautiful pink scarf with it and I am very happy with my new look. I have special thick woolen socks that I wear in my house and I knitted new soles under it because they are so nice and warm. My mother learned me all the skills of repairing and I'm glad I can use them every day. In my work as a teacher I see a lot of children with clothes without a button or a coat without a zipper or a hook to hang it on the coathanger and when I say: ask your father or mother to repair it they always say, no, no they can't; we have to ask it to my grandmother! On the picture of your mendingwork I saw a little blue tin with Dutch on it and Dutch farmergirls. It's nice to see this so far from my country, the Netherlands! I love your blog, my husband and I are "busy" with working on a simple live especially because we have to deal with 3 grown-ups of 17, 19 and 21. We like to share our better way of life with them and I am happy with their co-operation in it.


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