Last week I was reading an article describing what a disastrous effect manufacturing of clothing has on the environment. Apparently for many people fashion now dictates that they must constantly buy the newest clothes, wear them for a short time and then discard them. Accordingly, much of this clothing is poorly made, designed to fall apart fairly quickly, needing to be replaced with more up to the minute fashion. The solution proposed by the activists worried about this situation was to buy sturdier clothing and wear it longer.
After I recovered from laughter realizing that I was now in the forefront of an environmental movement (I had always bought sturdy clothing and worn it a long time), I thought of something the article failed to mention at all. Mending clothes! Growing up, everyone I knew had the basic skills to mend clothes. My mother kept an active mending basket near her chair where she did repairs. Seams were resewn, knees reinforced and buttons replaced. My mother darned socks, using a darning egg such as pictured above.
We wore clothes longer using the time honored skill of letting out hems. At that time everything seemed to come with large seam allowances, so that they could be adjusted as children grew. If a dress had been worn long enough to make an obvious line after the hem had been let out, rick rack covered it jauntily. Sleeves went up and down, waists in and out. Clothes lasted through many children. When they were finally totally worn out, garments became cleaning rags.
My title today reflects how common mending once was. Even the nursery rhymes we sang included not only washing and ironing, but also mending. Maybe it has gone the way of fish on Friday. A once ordinary event now needing explanation for the young.