Sunday, May 5, 2019

Weekend Review: Mending Matters

Mending Matters / Katrina Rodabaugh
New York: Abrams, c2018.
224 p.
I read this book a while ago now, when my library got a copy in. It's a lovely book; beautiful photos, thoughtful essays on why mending and slow sewing is important, useful techniques for patching and slow stitching, and a very nicely produced book overall.

Although I love the look of sashiko mending and denim patches and so on, it's not really my own aesthetic -- I don't really wear jeans or even the kind of casual jeans & tee style very often at all. But the ideas in this book are still relevant. Think about your clothing use, consider buying less and mending more, think of mending as cool and fashionable and we'll increase its frequency among more than just dedicated sewists. I can get behind all of those things, and I do mend and upcycle, though not that often in this specific visible mending way.

Rodabaugh's own story is interesting and weaves its way in and out of the essays and the techniques. She went on a clothing fast and ended up repairing and renovating her wardrobe to keep it going, and found that it was satisfying and not that hard to do. Her style is quite minimal, lots of blue and white, denim and sashiko. It's visually lovely even if it's not my own style.

I feel like this is a book for the moment -- with increased interest in sustainability among younger people and many people who haven't thought about it before, this kind of beautifully made, stylish and modern approach to the art of mending shows it up as a feasible and stylish thing to do. That alone is important, to change the mindset of those who aren't already convinced.

Personally I felt that the book was inspiring both in concept and in projects. There are 6 essays alongside the 22 projects, and the tone of the book is consistent and achievable for beginners. It does feel a tiny bit repetitive because of the themes being covered in a few different places, but that's also likely most noticeable when you're reading the book in one go. It's the kind of book that might be used more in a project by project way. She talks about patches (interior & exterior), darning, slow stitching and weaving. There are a few other techniques that she doesn't mention at all, but one book can't cover everything, and the focus of this one is on visible mending and entirely wovens, too. If you're looking for knit techniques, well, perhaps that'll be her next book, who knows!

This book has gotten a lot of hype, and has been sold out more than once. It's a pretty good one, and I think it has captured the zeitgeist in some way. If you have never thought about mending before, it could be an illuminating read. If you mend regularly you'll recognize most of the techniques - but it's still worth a good perusal, especially if you can find it in your local library like I did.


  1. This book is of interest. I have used this technique to repair a boiled wool jacket ... needlefelted then feature stitched. I was pleased with result. But I am not sure if there is an age where you don't have such obvious stitching on jeans. Maybe it is just me not ready to take such a leap. Hidden mending on jeans appeals a little more. I would like to see what this author has to offer.

    1. I really like this aesthetic but don't really use it myself -- there are parts of jeans that you don't want any visible mending ;) I'm sure younger people who wear a lot of jeans might go for it though!


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