After spending a long time indoors for much of this year, we recognized the importance of reclaiming the interior and connecting to purposeful solitude. We’ve chosen to spend time developing our creative endeavors like embroidery, mending and darning. It was in these quiet moments during these uncertain times that we came to grow our appreciation for imperfection. The imperfection we returned to time and again was well-loved clothes, made to last and repaired to last even longer. Before, it was easy to be desensitized by a fast-paced lifestyle and an even faster paced fashion industry. Our craft embraces the once discarded remnants and builds on time-honored traditions. Our solitude has, unintentionally, been a time of transformation and healing. In celebration of our first customizable collection, the Make It Series, we’re sharing the stories of some of our favorite makers who incorporate mending in their work.
Meet Shelley Zetuni, @_sewingsmith_
The Endery: How did you discover visible mending and how did it become the focus of your craft?
Shelley Zetuni: I first learnt to sew and mend from my grandparents when I was a child. One of my grandfathers was a tailor and the other was a cobbler! I grew up in the 1970s and we never threw anything away; everything was fixed, mended or repurposed in some way.
The Endery: Why visible mending, as opposed to more discrete methods of darning?
Shelley Zetuni: I have been sewing for most of my adult life. I trained as a couture milliner and worked in the hat industry for quite a few years. I really loved my time as a milliner, but the building where my studio was sold and I was unable to find any affordable workspace, so I decided to use it as an opportunity to move my work in a new direction. I had an idea to recycle vintage bags with embroidery and it was around this time that, for fun, I went to a visible mending class run by Celia Pym. It was wonderful! I came home and started playing around, fixing my husband’s jeans for him. I put some pics on Instagram and people asked if I would mend their clothes for them. So I don’t think I found visible mending – it found me! I never intended to make this my main focus, it just kind of happened organically. When the pandemic hit, people started to ask if I would teach them how to mend and although I was a bit nervous at first, I have really enjoyed the teaching.
The Endery: What do you think makes darning so special?
Shelley Zetuni: There are many things I love about visible mending – mainly I love that it's not just beautiful, but functional too! I love that what I’m doing is not creating any more ‘stuff,’ but repairing what is already there. When I’m working, I love to add as much colour as possible! For me I like a mend to really sing and be noticed!
Meet Flora Collingwood-Norris, @collingwoodnorris
TE: Why do you think visible mending important and what does that mean to you?
Flora Collingwood-Norris: I’ve been visibly mending for about 4 or 5 years now, ever since I got a puppy who loved chewing my jumpers! It’s a great way of keeping your clothing for longer. As a society, we produce a scary amount of textile waste that goes to landfill each year. Visible mending is a way of celebrating those flaws or holes, instead of throwing something out. It’s become a creative outlet for me and I love it – I find it really relaxing. It’s also given me a new connection to the pieces I’ve repaired, so they feel like new items in my wardrobe.
Want to share your latest project or ask questions about mending? Join our new Facebook community!
Meet Sonya and Nina Montenegro, @thefarwoods
The Endery: Why do you think visible (as opposed to invisible) mending is such a strong statement?
The Far Woods: Visible mending is honest – you’re not trying to hide flaws or imperfections. Instead, the story of the garment’s wear and tear, along with the mender’s ingenuity and care, is laid bare.
The Endery: Why do you think mending is having a resurgence in today’s society
The Far Woods: There are lots of reasons, to be sure, but here are a few we’d like to offer:
The veil has been lifted on the fast fashion industry and folks are finally learning about the devastating toll making these clothes has on our brothers and sisters abroad, as well as the impact on our ecosystem (seeing the movie “True Cost” is a gut-wrenching eye-opener). Many consumers are deciding they’d rather not support the industry and instead are actively transforming that system by learning to repair clothes, allowing folks to buy less and less often, taking care of the things we already have.
Folks are tired of this disposable culture we are steeped in – it is discouraging to own stuff that is made to be used only once, or is made so poorly it doesn’t last long, or includes proprietary parts or knowledge so we can’t fix it ourselves if it breaks.
Mending feels good! It is meditative – a time for reflection, idea bursts or just zoning out. And there is such a feeling of accomplishment to saving something from the awful fate of garbage, especially before it’s time!
We are facing ecological collapse, socio-political turmoil, consumerism and it’s not so hard to slip into nihilism – a feeling that the world would be better off without humans at all. Mending is a reminder of our human capacity for healing.
Meet Charlie Millar, @theknitedit
The Endery: Why do you think visible mending important and what does that mean to you?
Charlie Millar: Darning is a really important skill for knitters so you can mend your knits and make them last even longer. It also looks super cool, let's be honest! I must have been darning almost as long as I've been knitting. I remember my mum showing me how to mend a hole in my school jumper when I was little.