We love this video from 1943 found on the exhibition page of Cooper Hewitt Museum’s 2017 exhibition, Make Do and Mend: the Art of Repair. (It starts at 0:18.) The Make Do and Mend message was advertised by governmental campaigns as a patriotic duty in the 1940’s when materials were in short supply due to World War II. At 1:07 we meet chicly dressed Mrs. Quilty on the way to the bathroom…and at 1:59, Mrs. Weston models a suit made out of her husbands dress clothes.

Long out of favor due to the glut of cheap clothing, products and materials, mending and repair is on the rise again.

Mended ripped vintage jacket / Virginia del Giudice @lapercalina

British sociologist Jonathan Chapman‘s book Emotionally Durable Design  puts forth idea of design that seeks to create a deeper bond between people and their material things, and foster a strong relationship between them. Increasing the durability of relationships between consumers and products will reduce the consumption and waste of resources. His compelling gist:

Waste is symptomatic of failed relationships.

Repairing our damaged garments and textiles is an opportunity to rethink our relationship to our everyday objects. It may sound a daunting task, but it can be as simple as replacing a missing button, removing a stain, fixing a lining, hemming a pair of pants, or patching a hole.

We’ve been realizing that Chapman is right. We DO have a strong relationship with the things we value enough to actually mend (and consequently not much of a bond with stuff we’re willing to throw away). We’re thinking that an in-it-for-the-long-term bond should determine what we acquire from now on.  

Chair back mended with wrapped velvet ribbon / Sally Schneider

Yoko Ono made a number of experiential works around the theme of mending, and had much to say about it. Wish Piece II from her book Acorn is one of our favorites:

You might think you’re just mending a cup, but you’re actually mending something within you. The process of mending is the experience.

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2 replies on “What Mending Can Mean

  1. That video was so fun to see! Thanks. These days there are lots of books about mending. I enjoyed “Mending Life: A Handbook for Repairing Clothes and Hearts”. And have you seen the Speedweve type of mini looms for darning? It popped up on my facebook page today and I may just have to get one. I don’t usually fall for ads on the internet, but this mini loom looks really fun, creative and thrifty.

  2. Thanks for this inspired post, Sally. I’m now inspired to get out my sewing box this week and fix a cashmere sweater, sew on some buttons, etc.

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