Over the holidays, there were some moments of mending triumph. I pulled a pair of shorts I made out of the cupboard, believing they might be quite past the point of mending because really, I made a poor fabric choice. I discovered that I now had a strategy for mending them and perhaps I had also acquired a bit more capacity to look at something I have made and see that while its imperfections are on show… I have commercially produced garments that have imperfections more profound than these, and at the same early stage in their lives. I mended the shorts, I have been loving wearing them, and they made me realise I had a great pattern. So I made two pairs of trousers from the same pattern. Black on black mending. Not worth a picture.
Then there were the zipper replacements. I warmed up on the bra bags. You know, those bags you throw delicate stuff into before you toss it into the washing machine? Ours are made of something that will never biodegrade, so as the zippers die they are being reused in the dyeing area or having a shotgun marriage with one of the many zippers in my stash, origins unknown, colours implausible. I needed practice, because I must have replaced 4 zippers on actual garments. Each one applied differently. It’s intriguing, retrofitting a zipper. But it isn’t always simple.
The tiny zippers of contemporary clothing are a bit tricky–this one from my beloved’s favourite shorts. I practised stitching my own zipper stops (nylon teeth zipper–a great trick I learned from a pattern at some point–just create a zipper stop with a bar tack where you want one, and then cut off the unwanted teeth!) This time I also applied pliers to metal toothed zippers. Nothing awful happened and all are functional.
I mended awful shopping bags. They come and go at our house but essentially, I would prefer them to be used rather than be in landfill and I am prepared to keep them going as they pass through. The loose plastic rectangles in the bottom sometimes benefit from a bit of zig zag stitch too, pulling together their cracks.
It did all cause me to reflect on how judgmental I am about my own sewing. I have shirts I made a decade ago that hold up fine. Trousers, too. And shop bought clothes that died after 3 or 4 washes. Like these. That button hole has frayed out and the zip died when they had only been in my possession for a week or two. Now returned to functionality after a few years in the naughty corner.
But the biggest mending binge was during the visitation of the out-laws. My mother out-law asked me to convert an elastic waisted pair of pants to a flat front panel (in the end, she got a piece of table cloth across the front of her pants–it was the best white match!) Then could I take up some shorts (simple). Then, could I split the side seams on a short and finish them. Finally, could I take her nightie and make the armholes larger. It was made of unbelievably fine cotton, with cotton lace details and bound armholes. I’m just going to admit that I touched this pretty thing and thought EXPENSIVE! in big letters, just like that, and was afraid. Never mind. Off came the binding. I cut the armholes larger. Turned some of the fabric salvaged into extra binding, stitched it on. Retrofitted the new binding by hand in several steps, and finally, stitched all into place with the machine. Whew!!! Mend it May was big but mend in December and January was bigger still.