Stay Radical and Repair

My friend Sadie contacted me and asked whether her slipper boots could be saved. Of course I agreed, not knowing the extent of the damage but excited to start the project.

This is the first time I’ve been asked to mend an item that wasn’t from someone in my immediate family. I was a bit concerned about how my mending technique would meet with Sadie’s expectations; would she think it was too messy, would the mend be practical?

If it’s worth buying, it’s worth mending

First off, I had to assess the damage and think of the best way to stop this occurring again. I decided to use some fake leather fabric from my stash to patch the larger pieces, this was strong fabric so would hold up to heavy use.

The back of the heels needed some reinforcement, so I attached a strip of this fabric on each heel using running stitch and Sashiko thread. Sadie said that this extra panel made the world of difference; It added strength to the back so the fabric didn’t sag and was more comfortable inside.

Tools of the trade

The needle had to go through parts of the slipper which were really thick and difficult on my hand and fingers. I recommend pliers; these pliers made light work of the sewing and actually made the process quicker too.

I think people might see this post and wonder ‘whats the point’. The point is that this avoided waste, it honed skills, it formed the base of a friendship. Mending is so much more than sewing; it is the thought and community behind it. If these slippers last this winter for Sadie then I’ll be happy, if they last beyond then I’ll be over the moon.

We can intervene and mend and patch, but we do have to accept that things are impermanent. Eventually these slippers will perish. The idea of something not being replaceable is such a foreign and scary concept, especially for those who live in Western society, who are surrounded by material belongings. The idea that something can’t be replaced places a value on that belonging and with it, an ownership and a requirement to look after it. Mending is a subversive, defiant, thoughtful and radical act. Stay radical.

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