After the recent removal of every item from two bedrooms, an office and a bathroom in our home, I have a new appreciation for minimalists. They are brilliant.
Minimalists are earth-friendly and environmentally conscious – and they don’t trip over too much “stuff” because they don’t have too much – by choice.
We emptied the rooms to have new flooring installed and, as an afterthought because the floors looked so nice, two of the rooms painted.
We live in a small house, less than 1,100 square feet, and the sheer volume of “stuff” from those four rooms had to be stored in the other half of the house – or taken out.
We often opted for the latter. So far, I’ve made a half dozen trips to thrift stores to make donations by the carload. Husband made as many trips to the dump.
Also among the remaining possessions are “fixers,” a term applied equally to clothing in need of repair and items that can be used to “fix” something else – such as fabric, yarn, beads.
One blue cotton sweater captured my attention. It’s an old one my husband used to wear, but it doesn’t fit right anymore, he said, so he was about to put it in the trash heap. I’ve always liked it, so I tried it on and decided to keep it.
Alas, the neckline was a bit ragged, with loose threads chewed up on the edge. I had the grand idea to save the sweater with a bit of stitchery – like those videos I had seen with all the imaginative, clever and beautiful ways to mend and even decorate clothing.
Somehow the word “sashiko” came back to me, so I searched the internet to find the videos again.
Sashiko is a method that needs only a regular sewing needle and thread to create many small stitches in an artistic pattern. Some repairs are simple while others are quite intricate.
Say your favorite sweater has a hole on the front (whether from wear or a moth). Just grab a contrasting color of embroidery thread and accentuate the hole by stitching around it. Make it into a flower, or a ladybug – or a moth. Let it remain a hole, or cover the entire area.
Further searches led me down a number of rabbit holes until I landed on a related concept: “visible mending.” This idea took me back in time.
When I was a kid, my mother was always mending our clothes. I remember her darning my dad’s work socks, putting new zippers on jackets, patching the knees of our dungarees (before they were called jeans).
That was all visible mending (except for the socks).
Later on, my high school friends and I were visible menders long before it was a “thing.” We all embroidered designs on our jeans and denim shirts – my largest project was a peacock on the back of a shirt. And when my keys poked a hole in the pocket of my favorite jeans, I remember using embroidery thread to stitch over it to create a patch that looked like a zipper.
According to the internet, visible mending not only saves clothing but celebrates its history and its imperfections.
Beyond the obvious benefit of saving garments, there’s a whole social movement surrounding the concept. We also rescue something that might have been destined for a trash heap or recycle bin. If we recycle more of our clothing, we buy less. We don’t feed the fast fashion “monster” that employs thousands of workers in third world countries at ghastly low wages.
In the cycle of life, things come around and go around again. I’ll be reliving my teens as I practice more visible mending.