Darn. The Lost Art of Mending and Hemming.


I hemmed a pair of Giovanni’s pants today. First time.

How I managed to get through nine years and three kids without hemming a single pair of pants, I don’t know.

Actually, I do know. My time-starved life combined with a throw-away culture led to just getting rid of a pair of pants with a hole in the knee or a need for a hem. Especially when you can get a new pair at Old Navy on sale for five bucks.

This, in stark contrast to my mom, who could make a pair of bell bottoms last through three kids, six growth spurts, and twice as many fashion trends. She was always taking up a hem, taking out a hem, or darning a sock. A sock, I say! She’d keep a dead lightbulb in her sewing box for stretching a holey sock over for darning.

My mom was way ahead of her time. I read about this guy in San Francisco who runs the Free Mending Library once a month. You can bring any piece of clothing and he’ll fix it for free. It’s a radical post-consumer action. While clothes are getting cheaper, and more cheaply made, we enter the cycle of buying and consuming and throwing away and buying some more. This guy, on the other hand, is making a statement about resisting that consumer cycle.

Or is that just me making mending bigger than it really is? Since it does feel awfully non-feminist to be sitting at home sewing with dinner on the stove.

Mending can be time-consuming. And it means another to-do list item, which doesn’t necessarily lend itself to simpler living. But if you consider the time to get to the store, the gas it takes to get there, the time it takes to earn those five bucks plus the cost of that gas, and the environmental and human labor costs that someone else is bearing in order to make my cheap clothing, then hemming a pair of pants doesn’t really take all that much time. And it makes me more conscious of the clothes we do have.

Of course, you know what this means. It means I have to admit my mom was right. Again.

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