Mend it Like Beckham

by Katy on October 10, 2009 · 21 comments

Because the WordPress site was down this evening, the following is a reprint from an previously published Non-Consumer Advocate blog. Enjoy!

Needle and Thread

Who among us has not heard that unmistakable riiiiip as a favorite garment turns into a favorite rag?


For want of a needle and thread, pajama pants were lost.

Our grandmothers knew how to mend. Period. Even boys knew how to sew a button back on.

Socks got darned. Pants got hemmed. Clothes got mended. Just about anything that could be salvaged, was.

What does this generation do? We don’t repair. We replace.

Mending is helpful for your own clothes, but is very helpful when you’re a parent. I probably mend something for my sons a couple times a month, even more when they were preschoolers.  And my somewhat-clumsy 41-year-old self? I’m certainly not immune to the occasional need of a needle and thread.

Don’t know how to mend?

Fret not, fellow Non-Consumers, it’s not rocket science. Websites such as have great instructions that can get you started.

Don’t have the supplies?

Keep an eye out for secondhand spools of thread at garage sales and thrift stores, you’ll be surprised what you can find.  Your mother or grandmother might even let you raid her sewing box.

Don’t have the time?

Mending is the perfect activity while vegging out in front of the TV. A typical half-hour show can easily see you through a couple of repairs.

I feel such warm satisfaction when a few minutes of mending can bring something back to life.

I think my grandmother would be proud.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

What have you mended? Please share your mending stories in the comments section below.

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Linda October 10, 2009 at 5:54 am

I don’t understand why people throw out items that just need a simple repair. This goes for clothes but also for other items in the house.

My kids will buy jeans and clothes from consignment stores and yard sales. I always tell them not to worry about the length of pants. I can hem them to fit. Rips can get a nice patch.

I have double ovens in my kitchen. My heating element has broken twice over the past 20 years. I call a repair man (my husband can fix it but I would wait along time). It cost me about $100 each time to get it fixed but a new double oven would cost about $2500. Plus, the cost to the environment when the ovens hit a land fill.

I was helping my mother clean out a room and discovered she had 4 vacuums in her house. She gave me one of them and said all it needed was a belt. Please don’t tell me that she got a new vacuum because of the belt…yes. It cost only $2.44 for 2 belts. I will be at her house to inspect and fix her vacuums, so that does not happen again.

Fix it and keep using it!


BarbS October 10, 2009 at 6:09 am

My daughter’s favorite pair of flannel pants got ripped to shreds last week — perhaps a result of all the running and falling she does on the playground. The damage was beyond my ability to repair, so we cut them at the knees and rehemmed them into flannel shorts! It was a fun mother-daughter activity, and I felt like I was teaching the next generation a very useful skill. And you can be sure that I salvaged what was left of the ‘cut off’ part to use for future projects as well.


sandy October 10, 2009 at 8:11 am

I like mending, but my favorite activity is taking an item of clothing that isn’t quite right and fixing it so I end up with something more wearable. For example I had a shirt that had a great pattern and color, but it was so shapeless it didn’t look good on me at all. I took in the sides and put in darts in the front and back and now it’s one of my favorites.

Tip: if you’re tired of pinning a shirt that gaps in the front, sew on a piece of velcro with a stitch that doesn’t show on the front of the fabric.


arlijohn October 10, 2009 at 8:20 am

I have a seventeen year old grandson who wears his clothes until they die a horrible death. Fortunately I am a sewer so I am able to patch and mend his favorites to his heart’s content. When they are finally beyond repair the woebegone look on his face is so pitiful.


dressingmyself October 10, 2009 at 8:46 am

I’ve just been on the phone to my daughter, telling her not to throw out her best black dress – I will mend it!

I had my fridge mended last week. The repairman said that if he had a fridge like mine he would do anything he could to keep it going as it is superior to the more recent models!


Karen October 10, 2009 at 10:53 am

Like Sandy, I love to take something that isn’t quite right and fix it. I might just put new buttons on, since I have a big jar of vintage ones left over from various projects. Whatever the fix is, the entire process is so pleasing to me. I also think I was trained to fix clothes because I had a grandma who was a seamstress and did the same thing.


Lisa October 10, 2009 at 12:09 pm

I love to mend, recreate, and craft.


Cate October 10, 2009 at 3:56 pm

There really is just something satisfying about sitting down and mending an item. I recently spent maybe 10 minutes stitching a button back onto a pair of my husband’s shorts and felt ridiculously accomplished afterward, even though it was so easy and quick.


Magdalena October 10, 2009 at 6:22 pm

I think I embarrassed myself last time I mentioned here a repair job, but for those who are curious and didn’t see it – I turned a torn flannel sheet into hankies, and after a good boil post-sniffles, turned them into cuffs on a worn-out sweater. I mend torn knees with a patch on the inside of the leg, then cast down the torn edges. I have relined the inside of a thinning linen dress with cotton panels. Old white shirts that are too stained to wear get turned into new prayer caps or neck-kerchiefs or patches for something else. Plain dress has its advantages – no one expects me to be a fashion plate. My biggest complaint – socks that will not take a darn! (maybe not worth a darn?)


Emily October 10, 2009 at 6:52 pm

One of the best “gifts” my grandmother ever gave me was her fully stocked sewing kit, complete with 50+ years of collected odds and ends. I use it all the time to mend things, especially for my son, but I draw the line at darning socks. They’re just too lumpy.


Loretta October 10, 2009 at 8:36 pm

Last week I popped on a much-loved DVD “A room with a view” and spent the whole time mending a mountain of the children’s clothes. It felt fantastic when I finished, but unfortunately, I know there will be another pile within a few week’s time! I *really* hate mending, but cannot bear to throw otherwise perfectly good clothes out, and hate shopping for replacements even more!


Maniacal Mommy October 11, 2009 at 10:31 am

My three year old had slipped out of his bed one night and discovered me sewing buttons back on shirts. He was just mesmerized by it (as well as the contents of my sewing box from my great aunt).

Recently he had his wellness visit and they checked his vision. He did not know what to call the “plus sign” and thought about it a moment. Then he says “it’s a button!” He remembered watching me criss cross the thread, and it does look like a plus sign. Even if I have been lax in teaching him symbols, he does know about mending!


Sara October 11, 2009 at 12:31 pm

I have a 29 inch inseam so 90% of pants are too long for me and I hate having to limit myself to petite styles. I am the only twenty something I know who can sew – I remember learning how in 7th grade home ec. I even use an awesome thing called “stitch witch”, which is just a roll of webbing that looks like tape, and you use it to hem pants with just an iron, no sewing – it holds up really well. I can do basic seam fixes when something just pulled and it really help cut down on needing new clothes. I wish they still taught this kind of stuff in schools but I doubt they do.


Nancy from Mass October 11, 2009 at 6:31 pm

I mend as much as I can and when a shirt is too worn to use even as a rag, I make sure i cut off the buttons before discarding. The other night at karate, a young girl was watching me knit and mentioned that she also knitted. she then told me she took a shirt her mother was going to get rid of (one of her favorites) and she sewed it into a ‘shirt pillow’…on her very own sewing machine! It was nice to talk to a young person that enjoys sewing and yarn work. I wish they still taught it in school…most kids these days could use it!


Martha October 11, 2009 at 7:32 pm

I have been happy to take up weaving. The loom is just about ready to make a rag rug. Now I know what to do with the clothes (bright ones, especially) that are beyond repair–those bright yellow and green soccer socks will now be color highlights in our new rug!


WilliamB October 12, 2009 at 9:07 am

I don’t know much other than plain stitch and blanket stitch but, if you’re not picky how it looks on the inside, you can do a surprising amount with it. I do NOT like sewing and my skills are minimal, but it hurts too much to pay the cleaners $3 for a button or $10 to hem work pants. Fixing the work pants is hard because you don’t want the stitches showing on the front.

I probably look a site, laboriously stitching while I watch football!


Tracy Balazy October 12, 2009 at 2:45 pm

This was a great topic, and I got some good ideas from your posts, everyone!


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