Visible Mending and the Metaphor of Repair

I keep thinking about the symbolic meaning of repairing our clothing through mending. I keep returning to the dictionary and thesaurus and thinking of the various synonyms for the word "mend".

: to make (something broken or damaged) usable again : to repair (something broken or damaged)
: to heal or cure (a broken bone, a sad feeling, etc.)

Mostly, I think about the symbolic repair of fast fashion, the sustainable repair to our garments and the planet, and the activist's repair to a system that needs fixing.  It's amazing to think that something that was once so typical in our grandparent's homes has almost entirely been erased by modernization. I've been researching darning eggs and darning needles. Amazing to think that these were common household items not so long ago. Now, we hardly know what to do with them let alone how to find them.

I recently mended my favorite house slippers. A deep hole in the side of the slipper meant my little toe was cold every time I wore them. So I finally sat down with a scrap of denim and some thread and made a Boro inspired repair. Within half an hour my beloved slippers kept all ten toes cozy again. And it's just that simple. In no time at all our favorite garments are restored and their longevity preserved. An old favorite pair of jeans are next on my mending pile--filled with various gashes and tears that will need several fixes.

Visible mending lets us embrace the natural wear and tear of our garments through an aesthetic that is less perfect and more personal. We step off the fashion treadmill and look at our garments for their inherent strengths and weakness. We embrace the decay and also the ability to patch, darn, mend, and stitch our way into a more sustainable future. I recently revisited my Mendfulness article in Taproot magazine and this concept is much longer than an article for me. It's the workshops I'm teaching, my Make Thrift Mend fast, but I'm also considering it in a larger creative context.

For now, I just keep mending and repairing and mending again. And noticing how this act relates to so many aspects of our lives--big and small and tender and tenacious and simple and spectacular too. Mendfulness. 



  1. hello katrina! i would relish a longer, larger piece on this from your hand/heart.
    your taproot article, the blog and your visible mending article in vogue all serve to kindle creative fires and inspire deeply. & i've savored sharing your work with others. thank you! ~miss p

    1. Thank you so much. What a kind comment. You made my day. It's the encouragement I need to keep fueling this project into something bigger, to let it continue to move and breathe and be. Thank you!

  2. sometimes i wish i wore denim just to get to mend it. my skirts don't seem to wear the same way. but i'm kept busy mending my daughter's trousers.

    mending is a powerful quiet revolution.

    1. There is something particularly suiting about denim when it comes to visible mending. Though I've mended cotton and wool and linen and most recently these suede slippers. But denim, it's true. And yes... a powerful quiet revolution.


Thank you for your comments, friends. I like to think we are creating a dialogue in this space--building a virtual community.