We find ourselves in a time of reflection globally. The pandemic has taken our routines and shaken them, which for some of us has resulted in more time at home. Time to take a step back and look at our lives, our homes and our possession’s through a new lens.

Lots of people have used some of their newly found time to look through and clear out their wardrobes. This task can uncover all sorts of things, clothes we have never worn, trousers that have not fitted us for twenty years and no doubt garments that have become broken or damaged. Does this sound familiar?!

A pile of colourful clothing

In the UK we consumers discard around a million tonnes of textiles per year (source)and around three thousand tonnes of this textile waste is found in our household rubbish bins. Of that textile waste, 20% ends up in landfill and the other 80% is incinerated (source)

Increasing the lifetime of our clothing is one of the most powerful actions we can take in terms of reducing the environmental impact of our wardrobes.

An info graphic of a carbon statistic

So, I reckon that now is a better time than ever to start fixing those clothes that are lurking in our wardrobes. I make this sound like a simple task, and I can already hear you saying that you can’t sew, or you wouldn’t know where to start…. But you can sew, and I am here to tell you where to start!!

Before we get going, I want to introduce or reintroduce you to the Japanese concept of  Wabi-Sabi. Traditionally in the western world we have regarded perfection as beauty, this can be seen in everything from our grand architecture to the produce we choose in the supermarket and the way that we readily discard items that we deem to be broken. Imperfection is regarded as inferior and non-desirable.

Wabi-Sabi is the exact opposite of this western ideal, it is the recognition of imperfection as beauty. Wabi-Sabi celebrates the imperfections, the signs of use and the art of repair within objects. Each mark left, or crack that is glued back together tells a story about that item.

It is this concept of the beauty in imperfection that I want you to keep in the forefront of your mind as you are fixing your clothes. Have fun with it, make your repair visible and make it tell a story. This action can be so empowering and inspirational in starting conversations about the way we regard our possession’s and the downfalls that our material culture has produced.

So, let’s get fixing! These are the things you will need:

  • An item of clothing to fix
  • A needle
  • Thread
  • Spare fabric (if patching a hole)
  • The concept of Wabi-Sabi in your mind!!

I believe that most households will already have the items listed above, however if you do not and you are going to struggle to get these items during the lockdown then please hang on and get fixing when possible. Alternatively reach out to your community, whilst observing social distancing, it’s quite possible that a neighbour will be able to lend you the things you need. Perhaps you could even turn the event of fixing your clothing into a shared experience with family or friends over a video call!

Here is an example of a visible mend that I have completed this week:

Fabric, scissors and a reel of cotton
Hand stitched repair on a top

I have had this top for around 15 years, and I love it dearly, but last year during my summer holiday, I picked my niece up and her foot got caught in the pocket which resulted in a fairly large tear! It’s a funny memory and it was a simple fix that in my opinion has added even more beauty and character to one of my favourite items of clothing!

I hope that this has inspired you to get fixing. There are loads of videos online sharing more in-depth tutorials and techniques too so have a little look around for more advice if you wish! If you want to share your stories and pictures of your repairs with me then just comment below or send me an email, I’d love to see how you embrace this!

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