Make Do and Mend — a New Generation

Someone shared this article in one of my Facebook groups a couple of years ago, and I saved the link because it makes some interesting points:

“The art of repairing clothes was being lost, but with half a million taking up sewing in the last year, a whole new generation is picking up the thread…”

The rise of mending: how Britain learned to repair clothes again

I have to toss it in there that I don’t like mending. At least I didn’t until I discovered the art of Sashiko, which combines the practicality of mending with the aesthetic of embroidery. I think I want to learn it because it’s so beautiful, precise and artistic. It’s creative, easy to do while watching TV, and has the extra advantage of being tactile, which is so important for someone like me who needs to be hands on.

I do have a few issues with the article. For instance, sewing techniques are most certainly not the same as they were 100 years ago. One interviewee claims:

“The techniques of sewing are the same now as they were 100 years ago. There is nothing new when it comes to making things…”

But I say, new inventions, adventurous sewists, and global knowledge sharing all add up to techniques that no one thought of in the early 20th century. Did they have sergers and coverstitch machines in 1917? I think not! Moderns sewists take for granted the zig-zag sewing machines with reverse function that we’ve come to see as a bare minimum. Did Great Grandmama have those options? Did she have fusible interfacing, rotary cutter and wash-away basting tape? Nope! So, no, we don’t sew the way they did 100 years ago.

And then there’s the idea that home sewing is economical. If you’ve ever bought fabric and notions, or paid for shipping, you know it costs so much more to make a simple t-shirt than it does to pop over to Wal-Mart, Target, or whatever your local bargain store is called and pick one up. And that’s not even counting the amount of time you would spend printing, taping, cutting, sewing. (Wait! Just the PDF pattern alone would cost twice as much as that Target tee.)

I’m inclined to agree with this sentiment:

“Sewing is empowering,” says Rachel. “Not just in terms of creativity, but it also allows you to share knowledge with others, to make friends around the world and experience their culture.”

But we all have our own opinions. Read the original article for yourself and tell me your thoughts on the whole idea of mending vs. disposing. While you do that, I’ll get back to the pile of jeans my family gave me to fix.


Marsha Law Sig2

PS. Check out my first attempt at Sashiko, which turned out to be more Visible Mending.

PPS. Visit the Canadian Directory of sewing and craft suppliers








  1. I agree, sewing today is very different than anything our grandmothers would have experienced. It’s nice to know our grandmothers were sewing too though. I love your Sashiko example. Very fun.

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