Meet the Mender: Mindful Mending
Known on Instagram as Mindful Mending, Lily Fulop is a textile-focused designer with a passion for saving clothes from the landfill. Her style incorporates traditional mending techniques, but with a unique twist. Looking through her fun and colorful designs, it feels like each piece was made to tell a story! As sweater weather begins, darning to repair old knits also feels in season. In case you missed it, be sure to watch our IGTV with Lily where she shares some beginner darning methods. To learn more about Lily and how she became interested in mending, continue reading our Q&A below.
The Endery: Tell us about yourself
Lily Fulop: I’m Lily, a multidisciplinary designer living in Chicago, Illinois (previously NYC!). I’m 24 years old and have been making art and working with textiles for as long as I can remember. In my 9 to 5 job, I do visual design, branding, and illustration. I also wrote a book called Wear, Repair, Repurpose: A Maker’s Guide to Mending and Upcycling Clothes, and I do a lot of sewing in my free time. I’ve been running the Instagram account @mindful_mending since 2018, where I post about my process and share inspiration from other makers.
TE: How did mending become such a focus in your life?
LF: I became very aware about environmental issues when I was in college, and knew that I wanted to use my design work to promote sustainability and make a difference. Since I already work with textiles, I felt like mending and upcycling was a direct application of my skills that could help reduce waste. At first, I approached it as a project and exercise, but it’s become a natural part of my life. I love working with my hands, and sewing is really therapeutic for me. Repairing clothes is also a great way to fight eco-anxiety—I’m so aware of my impact and hate throwing things away, so I feel a lot better when I can extend the life of my clothes.
TE: Why do you think mending is having a resurgence in today’s society?
LF: I think the climate crisis has a lot to do with it. We’ve kind of reached our breaking point as a society and are realizing we have to slow down and be more sustainable in all aspects of life, including fashion. Another reason is more psychological, I think, especially during the uncertainty of the pandemic—we’re looking for the comfort that old-timey pastimes can provide (Hence the rise of #cottagecore). We want to get off of our phones and away from the news, and just fix something with our own hands, right in front of us.
TE: We love how your artwork speaks to color and offers a very accessible way for people to start mending simply, and with things they use at home! What inspires you?
LF: I’m inspired by American Folk Art, and the creativity that comes from constraints. I especially love improvised scrap quilts. A great example is the work made by the African-American women of Gee’s Bend. Ultimately, I don’t think I have a specific color inspiration—I’m just inspired by color itself!
TE: Why do you think visible (as opposed to invisible) mending makes such a strong statement?
LF: In the past, people have felt the need to hide repairs, because it might have meant that you didn’t have enough money to afford something new. Now, in the age of cheap fast fashion, repairs are a form of activism. Visible repairs can signal to others that you care about fighting consumerism and reducing waste. You’re choosing to take the time and effort to repair something, instead of the more convenient option of replacing it, so show it off!
TE: We’d love to hear more about how you came to write your book.
LF: I was sharing illustrated tutorials on @mindful_mending, and people were responding really positively. My publisher actually found me through the Instagram account, and asked me to write the book! It was a natural extension of the work I was already doing, and a great format to go more in depth and reach a different audience.
TE: And finally, what can you recommend to anyone who is new to darning and mending?
LF: Practice, and don’t worry about it being perfect! If your repair is functional, that’s more important than it being pretty. Be patient and embrace the fact that your stitches look like they were made by a person and not a machine!
Ready to try your hand at darning?