This corner in the machine room of a former paper mill in Fengersfors, Dalsland, was given me as show place for my video. With white draperies it was made usable, but not cosy.
I wanted to make a film about something important, something real. Most persons in the world must mend things, clothes as well as other domestic objects. When I darn my stockings my thoughts go to those biljons of women and men who through history have mended, been thrifty, renewd and reused. Here and now it is labelled ecological lifestyle, but for most people it is a necessity.
A common rejoinder to the film from persons under 40 is ”I have never learnt to mend clothes. We did not do that in school”. The exceptions are two men who told me that they mend their underwear themselves. When I went to school in the 60ths in Gothenburg both boys and girls had lessons in textile handicraft in the sixth class (12 years old). We learnt to darn stockings, to patch, knit and crotch and to use different stitches. We had to sew clothes mostly by hand as there were only three sewing machines on 25 pupils.
Older viewer state that the quality of textiles today are so bad that it is meaningless to mend. That is partly true and is a result of the demand for cheap clothes and bed linen. It is not possible to produce good quality to low prices.
What I have hung on the clothes line:
1. Sheet turned along the selvages. Sheets get most worn in the middel. By dividing sheets lenghtwise and sewing the halves together along the selvages you can use your sheets much longer. Naturally you have to hem the new edges. The middle seam is less noticable when sewn by hand.
When the sheets are outworn one can sew pillow-cases of the less worn parts in the ends, or perhaps make bakingcloths. When also these are too worn one uses the cloth for handkerchiefs (better than those of paper), or as rags for cleaning, painting …
2. Mat for toilets made out of a homesewn outworn dressing-gown.
3. New handles on an ugly and worn, but usable, bag of cloth.
4. To change the elastic band in clothes is nowadays laborius, as the textile industries uses many seams to fasten the elastic bands – formerly the elastic band was passed in a channel with a small opening, which made it easy to change elastic bands. Now one has to carefully unstitch many seams, make a channel and through this pass a new elastic band. I suppose the industry makes it so difficult to change elastic bands on purpose.
5. A mending can be an adornment, as on this top which got ladders almost immediately, ladders that I secured with small embroidered flowers:
- Oh lovely, it looks like a tattoo, has the comment on my small embroidery been.
6. When a collar gets worn through one can unstitch and turn it around, and sew it back onto the shirt. It is fairly easy, but one gets the button and buttonhole on the wrong side of the shirt – but who cares?
7. When a sock is beyond repair one can cut away the upper part and knit a new foot onto this part.
8. Unfortunately one soon gets hole in the heels of compression stockings, and as they cost 100-150 SEK a pair it is necessary to mend them as long as possible. It is not beautiful, but does that matter under the heels?
9. We Swedes are funny in that we pay for rags: dish-cloths, scouring-cloths, although we all the time get free rags from outworn textiles. A friend from Venezuela found it natural to use her husbands outworn underpants as dish-cloths, of course washed.