Mendfulness

I am thrifty

If you pay top dollar for something, you should get your money’s worth. I have a particular cardigan that has survived three different disasters: accidental bleaching, a bra-hook snag and an unravelled collar. Most people would just throw theirs away by now, but I love this cardie, you see, and paid quite a lot for it. Once I realised fixing it was within my capabilities, I had to try. Now it looks great, with patches of lace covering the bad bits, and most people assume I bought it that way.

It’s better than shopping

Attacking your mending pile is like free shopping, but all the clothes fit you and are just your style. Enjoy buying new clothes? Then you’ll love getting back something you’d forgotten about (or which has languished in a mending pile, waiting for you to do something about it). It’s the happiest of reunions. It makes you look at new purchases in a different way, too — more discerning, with more understanding and appreciation of how they’re put together. Quality over quantity.

It combines creativity and problem-solving

With mending you have a specific problem to solve, which is a satisfying task on its own. Most mends have multiple ways to solve them, though, so you get to be creative, too. There’s not necessarily a right way to do things — I advocate for whatever method gets the job done and gets that garment back in your wardrobe.

A visibly mended tea towel, with patches made from scrap fabric and sashiko embroidery

Quick wins make you feel good

Mending (especially visible mending) is fairly quick. For all the months that something sits in a pile waiting for you to fix it, it often takes 5 to 10 minutes to actually mend. The payoff is so great for the amount of time expended. And when you add in the creativity and problem-solving aspects, you can get a real buzz from what you’ve achieved. It can become addictive!

Cardigan mended by needle-felting wool patches over holes

If not you, then who?

Now for the un-fun part. When you throw something away, there is no “away”. When I first saw that line on a poster, my heart sank. All the clothes in need of repair that you donate to op shops? They’ll get turned into rags in the best scenario, and disposed of in landfill in the worst. Often the problem is exported overseas, where developing nations have to deal with it. There’s a whole psychology around our donation of goods to charities. Many people think: “This item isn’t good enough for me, but it should be good enough for someone else.”

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