Mending Matters…..

Following our visit to the Heritage centre, I seemed to have mending matters on my mind. Curiosities arouse about the practice of mending, the necessity of it and the beauty of it. It is something we do in an ongoing way, to prolong the life of an object and it is often something not remarked on or recognised. However I can’t but help notice the beauty of repair work……

There are some many different types of mending to explore; one collection in particular that caught my eye is Andrew Basemans Past Imperfect collection of what are often called make-do’s – domestic objects dating back centuries that bear evidence of having been broken and repaired in unusual and often artful ways. Here are some example of some pretties from his website

Past Imperct Collection

Andrew Baseman-Past Imperct Collection

I love how simple crockery is transformed and tells a story of it’s past, just by the insertion metal staples. The art of inventive repair at it’s best.

Andrew Baseman- Past Imperfect Collection

Andrew Baseman- Past Imperfect Collection

Another aspect of mending which I want to further investigate is darning; I touched on this also in my previous blog post.

Darning Samplers were especially prevalent in the Netherlands in the late 18th and early 19th century. Working as a linen seamstress could provide a steady living for these young women and their families. It was especially important for the girls in orphanages to master these skills so they would have an occupation to support themselves upon leaving the home. The training was so serious that these darning samplers were considered a sort of final exam in the orphanages.

Examples of Dutch Darning Samplers

Examples of Dutch Darning Samplers

I love the colours and use of pattern. It makes me think how can I incorporate darning into my work……..hmmm! Darning is a form of drawn thread work, or pulled thread work and this is something I have been experimenting with.

Darning is something I wanted to further pursue in my making. I always darn my socks; I can’t say I am the neatest and I do have my own way but I do like the process. I have been experimenting with the horsehair fabric, and by precisely and patiently cutting out the weft from the fabric, I can create graphic imagery leaving just the warp in place (see image below). This is some way mimics the darning process but in reverse, revealing the longitudinal stitches that form the warp instead of inserting them. Slightly ironic perhaps; I am trying to recreate the darning process by distressing the fabric rather than mending it.


Sampling- Removal of the horsehair weft to reveal just the WARP

Sarah Pink sees mending/repair work as re-making,

“objects are never restored to what they were before, but are remade to emerge as something else”

(Visible Mending; Everyday repair in the South West)

Mending as Re- making…..this interests me!

Whilst distressing the horsehair, I was working very closely with the fabric and I noticed something; a mend along the edge of the fabric, but not just one, several all along the selvage. Each length of fabric had them, parallel lines of tiny stitchings fixing a recurring flaw. But how did this flaw happen and who fixes it…this is something I must enquire about on my next trip to John Boyd’s mill? I know they mend  the machinery themselves, but how much mending of fabrics is undertaken….?

Horsehair  fabric mends

Horsehair fabric mends

A lot of my Z Twist time has been focussed on research up to now  which has been great as I am really taking the time to fully investigate my approach but I really can’t wait to get stuck in making. Next time you hear from me, I’ll have lots of photos of hands on making………..



    1. Thanks Lizzi, I normally don’t have the time to dig this deep with regards the research so it’s very exciting for me too

  1. Hey Debbie – loving reading about this exciting project!

    Think I can help explain the ‘mend’ on the edge of the fabric. As the weft is one strand of horsehair, rather than a continuous thread, there isn’t the usual bound selvedge. (There is a good picture of a bound selvedge here – ) This means that the edge warp threads would quickly start to ‘wander’ out of place, and the fabric would start to unravel on the edge once off loom. So to stop this happening, they have inserted a small of thread on the edge every now and again to keep those edge warp threads in place.

    Hope that makes sense 🙂

    Look forward to seeing your next blog about what you make 🙂

    1. Problem solved, makes total sense…thanks Laura aka weaving wizard!! Glad your enjoying the blog posts; I’m loving the residency, its like being back at college again minus you lot. Hope all the textile folk at wwsota are good

  2. Pingback: Slip & Dip |

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