Kate Sekules visiblemend runs #mendmarch each year and she’s written ‘Mend! A Refashioning Manual and Manifesto’. On Sew Organised Style podcast, mending is a regular topic where people from the sewing community talk about sewing saves, mending and their mending techniques.
For March, I’ve published a podcast with Kate Sekules and she’s been heavily involved in mending and refashioning so we’re fortunate that she’s taken the time to document her clothing history and mending knowledge in ‘Mend! A Refashioning Manual and Manifesto’. Kate sent me her book as a thank you for recording her podcast.
From the start Kate states ‘Mending has baggage. Patched clothing speaks of shame and poverty and drudgery, even of slavery. But mending is a big word. It’s about repairing more than clothes.’ This statement speaks volumes of why mending clothes was something ‘we’ never did when I grew up.
Kate then states ‘History, for example, which must be unpicked and remade, healing systemic injustice, making reparations, exposing scars. Clothes historians do this via what we wear, which turns out to be more important than we realised. Visible menders do it literally, by stitching new stories onto the worn fabric of our lives. They’re just clothes, but if enough people adopted more creative ways of sourcing, tending and mending them, we’d fix much of what’s wrong with the world.’
So yes, I’ve listened to many people from many cultures talk about their visible mending life on the podcast. On Instagram I’ve wandered through the #visiblemend posts and found so much inspiration through each person’s skilled mending practice.
In Zoe Edwards book ‘Mend it, Wear it, Love it!’ you would have seen much of Kate’s textile artist mending work. Kate’s book does a deep dive into mending. The chapter titles reflect this – What; Why; When; Who; Where; How; Which; Whether – provide more than the aspirational images we see on Instagram.
Visible mending is a protest movement and an art form and a fashion statement. I think this is the value behind visible mending that makes me keep looking at the various versions of visible mending on Instagram to start my personal visible mending journey.
Kate’s book has the chapter ‘What’ is visible mending with 10 reasons to mend. I’ll keep these reasons on my phone to work on taking the shame out of mending that I’ve always believed. The ‘Why’ chapter looks at the various layers we’re contributing to when we mend to extend the life of our clothing and household items. Your reasons for visible mending may be to be frugal and extend the life of your clothes but your visible mending actions are doing more than you realise.
Kate delves into the Fashion Revolutions formation after more than a thousand workers were crushed to death in the Rana Plaza factory collapse, and their asking us ‘Who made your clothes’ campaign. The full details about fashion and its effects on people and the environment are there to read and Kate then provides two great templates to use so we’re contributing to reducing the effects of fast fashion on our society and the environment.
The Seven Magic Shopping Questions
The Shopping Rules.
After much research Kate’s chapter on ‘When’, uncovers the mending history she’s been able to pull together. This chapter is one that even friends I know who love history will get a thrill from reading. Kate is currently completing her phd on mending.
The ‘Who’ chapter features people who are mending including Kate herself.
Then it’s onto ‘Where’ to get your mending game on with tools to use for mending. There are guides to help you get started so you get value out of your starting kit from the day you start mending. Once you start mending, your mending addiction may lead you to adding to your mending kit and skills. Don’t say you weren’t warned.
The ‘How’ chapter has the basics to get mending. Stitches to use. Fibre information. A very extensive mending guide. Laundering details. This is the chapter you’ll have to bookmark once you get started mending.
The ‘Which’ chapter has lots of mending and how-tos. My fav is the ‘Periodic Table of Mend Elements.’
Getting started takes 1 act of mending. I really should start welcoming the opportunity to mend that button off my husband’s shirts with more gusto. He may find visible mending on the tears that appear on his weekend and work week clothes very, very soon. Just don’t tell him.