Monday, 14 June 2021

The Joy Of Mendfulness

No, not a misprint- I came across this word, a hybrid of mending and mindfulness, in a library book I have just read, called Mending Matters.

The author, Katrina Rodabaugh, tells how in 2013, she embarked on a "Make, thrift, mend" project - vowing not to buy new clothing for a year. A 'fashion fast' when she would pause her clothing consumption, and include her wardrobe in her attempts at green living. She embraced the concept of Slow Fashion

Katrina - an artist by trade, and a young mother - found the whole experience life-changing. She moved 3000 miles across the USA to build a new life in a 200 year old farmhouse.

KR uses traditional methods- European darning, American patchwork, Japanese sashiko and Indian Kantha quilting - to repair damaged garments. Sometimes 'invisible' mends - other times turning the fix into a decorative part of the garment. 

If you ignore the term 'mendfulness' [which I personally find a little too contrived] the book itself has some good ideas in it - backed up with a great layout, well planned sections, and superb photography and instructions. It is lovely to flick through - a blend of black white and indigo!

Each technique begins with a description, and list of equipment needed- then is followed by a series of carefully worded instructions and accompanying photographs. 

I really enjoyed the book - my only issue is that her wardrobe seems to be entirely composed of denim or natural linen. - jeans, jackets, shirts and smocks. Many of us [precovid] have worked in environments where the dress code was 'no denim'. I have tended towards owning 'a smart pair of jeans' which then became 'tatty odd-job working jeans' - so a stack of seven pairs [as on her cover] wouldn't ever feature in my wardrobe. Maybe her follow up book [called, unsurprisingly, "Make Thrift Mend"] will be a little more colourful, with its themes of "stitch, patch, darn and dye"

A very interesting read - but that awful hybrid word, and tight focus on denim mean I rate it ****

My second library book on the mending theme was this one by Japanese writer Noriko Misumi from Tuttle Publishing. TP has been around since 1832, based in Vermont. Their aim is "to create books which bring people together one page at a time... focusing on informing the English speaking world about the countries and peoples of Asia" They have produced thousands of books on all topics ranging from martial arts to papercraft.

Noriko runs mending workshops - and so the book is full of examples of 'consultations' - showing how she has demonstrated both 'invisible' and 'statement' techniques. Again, well written instructions and clear photographs make these projects easy to follow and replicate. 

She uses a lot of needle-felting to repair woollen garments - and 'playful motifs' [kittens, balloons, dogs etc]  and is very fond of making patches using colourful crochet squares [see cover picture of denim jacket] 

Her section on darning is well written [I was taught to darn when I was about 8 - and I think this skill is sadly neglected]

However I am not convinced that a hole under the armpit needs to be mended with an obvious darn in a different colour! Her techniques include darning, crochet, patchwork, felting, sashiko and rug-hooking

She says "Joy is not simply a passive experience of pleasure, but an active participation in the creation of pleasure. Sharing that kind of joy makes me very happy"
I'm still pondering on that statement. I do know that mending - and therefore saving -  a garment, especially when it is a favourite piece belonging to someone else, gives me a great deal of joy.

I also rate this one ****

Realising that long straight rows of stitching requires a longer needle, I have treated myself to a pack of needles. Now I am checking out the contents of our newly built wardrobes [thank you Bob] to see if I can find anything that is worn and in need of decorative repair. But before that, I have three garments from family members needing discreet, invisible fixing. My brother will not thank me for sending back his smart jacket repaired with rows of purple stitching, or a cheerful puppy embroidery!


  1. Oh go on, I enjoy seeing a man in a puppy jacket! Haha! I would like to be able to see better!

    1. A blue floral patch on Bob's jeans is already stretching his comfort zone

  2. Those books look really interesting. I like to mend or transform garments and I have a pair of pull on jeans (not worn further than the mailbox) that I put cloth behind at the thin knees and did a kind of Japanese stitching. Another pair of dressy light blue jeans were long and wide and just not being worn so I transformed them into a skirt which is now a favourite. I'm thinking of transforming some beige linen pants into a skirt, too. What I do need is a way to fix one of my husband's tee shirts that is worn at the neckband, but still wearable otherwise.

    1. Trousers into skirts is a good one. Can you use a strip from another old tee shirt to make a new neckline binding?

    2. I did put new cuffs and neck binding on a sweatshirt using some new fabric bought on sale, but I don't have the right colour for the tee shirt.

  3. I read somewhere that embroidery is supposed to have started as a method of darning and evolved to be more decorative than utilitarian. I am currently mending an old quilt that I made 40 years ago. At first, I started out trying to make my patches invisible, but, now, I am not trying to hide them, at all! :D

    1. Oh please post pictures on your blog, won't you


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