Blog, book review, Book Reviews

Mending Matters Stitch, Patch, and Repair Your Favourite Denim and More

By Katrina Rodabaugh

Photographed by Karen Pearson

Published by Abrams, New York

Dear reader you may find it strange that I am reviewing a second book on what is ostensibly mending or even another book on blue mending. Okay I admit it, as always it is the blue that draws me in, as do the beautiful worn denims. However this book is about much more than just mending. It comes out of the Slow Fashion movement that is very strong in America and growing in momentum on this side of the pond. 

         Included are the practical elements, you are shown the basic techniques, exterior and interior patches, hand stitches improvised darning and weaving. It is also interwoven with the philosophy and stories behind the Slow Fashion movement.

         It was in 2013 that Katrina, a fibre artist, started an art project called Make Thrift and Mend- where she vowed not to buy any new clothes for an entire year. It grew out of three influences: the first being the collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh, that killed 1100 workers and injured another 2500. The second an interview with Elizabeth Cline author of Overdressed: The shockingly high cost of cheap fashion. The third was a blog written by slow fashion designer Natalie Chanin, in which she advocated slow design.

As Katrina launched her new project she researched everything she could on sustainable fashion and the people who practice it. During that first year Katrina fell in love with mending, which she transformed into an art form as she realized the opportunities to consider patches and stitches as design elements. Katrina approaches mending with the same design considerations she uses in her art work- line, shape, scale, texture and colour. –she fuses embroidery and basic stitches to create strangely beautiful and eco friendly  garments that have been well- worn and are still well-loved.

The book has quotes from artists and designers who work using textiles in an ethical and eco friendly manner.

         “I’m excited for Mending Matters and for Katrina’s work that offers new directions within the sustainable fashion community. It creates solutions, draws on handcraft heritage, and widens opportunities to connect Slow Fashion through simple stitchings “

Foreward by Natalie Chanin founder and creative director of Alabama Chanin.

 What I wear : by Samantha Hoyt Lindgren  from A Gathering of Stitches

“Making my own clothing makes me happy. This is not to say that I am always successful in my makes. But more often than not, and with greater regularity these days, I make items of clothing that I wear and cherish. In a changeable world this gives me great satisfaction and some peace.”

         From Jessica Lewis Stevens from Sugar Workshop On using natural dyes. 

          “When we dye our wool and cotton and linen with plants, we can mark the way the goldenrod covered everything in sight this year or the good health of the tall oaks that dropped basketful of tannin-rich acorns. We can put colour by for winter, wear medicine on our backs. We can harvest the colours around us and in  making them part of our wardrobes they can hold our stories and come back to us.”

         I am writing this during Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK and one of the biggest opportunities in Slow Fashion is mindfulness.

As Katrina says ‘Most women are oversaturated by a fashion industry telling us how to look, dress, eat, diet, hide, reveal, boost, or otherwise mute our bodies. By being more mindful, time can be taken out to think what it is you really want. The confidence in your personal style is actually counterculture to fashion trends.

 I try to remind my students that the point is not to have a perfect closet filled with perfect garments, but to cultivate mindfulness- mendfullness –and make deliberate choices, focus on what you can do to make a positive impact, and gain a deeper understanding of your true preference and style.’

         Mendfulness is ultimately about healing. It’s about healing what we intuit to be broken in the fast-fashion industry but also in our individual experiences of clothing. We can learn to create antidotes to the damages of scrutinizing body image, low self-esteem, and general scarcity that comes with the never ending never ending need to ‘fix’ something in ourselves through our wardrobes”

After describing how when she was a child, her family spent Sunday evenings darning, by India Flint prophet of bloom

“ My darning is still from perfect…it’s now loud and proud, big patches that glow happily from leaf prints, as every time I mend , I re-dye the garment. Refreshing in a eucalyptus bath reinforces the cloth with a layer of colour, sanitizes and gives things a lovely fragrance. It’s a practice that connects me firmly to the land where I live and it makes me very happy”

This book is a joy to read and to hold. Buy it.