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"Stitch It, Don't Ditch It" - Mary Morton and Edinburgh's Street Stitchers

I thought of posting this story in the Packing subforum, as there is a controversial idea there that tourists should pack their ratty clothes on their travels, wear them during vacation, then dump them before returning home. Mary Morton in Edinburgh has another idea: learn to mend your clothes yourself.

I will be in Edinburgh in a couple weeks and am actually bringing a linen blouse that I mended at home. Maybe I can find Mary and her colleagues and learn some more sewing skills?

Posted by
32 posts

Thank you for posting this. We are heading to Edinburgh in a couple of months. My wife will definitely be on the lookout. She mends, tailors, or outright makes a lot of our clothing and would love to meet these folks.

Posted by
4003 posts

Wish I was headed there. My sisters and I can sew and we each have a different strength, just as Mary writes about. I repair and am better with my hand stitching, one sister is on her machine helping the local schools with costumes for shows, and my other sister quilts. She teaches quilting at her church.
Of course, once you learn the basics you are eager to keep learning.

Posted by
7030 posts

Mending clothes has actually gotten very creative lately. You can find dozens of books now that show how to patch and mend using colorful appliques and yarns and threads. It's a lot of fun and idea is not to hide the stitching, but to use it to enhance the garment. The end results are gorgeous and it's a very satisfying hobby. For me it's almost as much fun as making the clothes. :-)

I have the Visible Mending at home and enjoy it but there are many more that are just as creative and fun.

Posted by
3994 posts

Interesting article, thanks for sharing. I’m doing an “in-house” version of that this week. When I visit my sister in the midwest I plan to pack 2 things I love but they need some repair or altering, my sister’s specialty. She’s a wiz with the sewing machine.

Posted by
2255 posts

That would be fun to visit her and learn more!

I am a whiz with the sewing machine, and my small business is sewing. So yes, some of our family do ask me to fix things, but thankfully most of them know how to sew as well so are self sufficient. I did make sure that both of our kids knew how to use a sewing machine and they made a number of items when they were in middle/high school.

Oh my gosh, the wearing old clothes and leaving them behind theory grates on my nerves. To me, it is the same thing as leaving a bag of garbage, which of course would never be considered.

Posted by
119 posts

I agree, Mardee. I took a visible mending class at a center in my neighborhood, and I found it quite fun, as well as forgiving for novice sewists like me. It is quite different from what I l heard about mending from my family elders, who judged a successful clothing repair by how "invisible" (undetectable) the work looked.

Posted by
225 posts

Do people darn socks anymore? I've bought some wool socks for hiking which are developing holes and I don't want to throw them away. Don't know how to darn and was thinking of learning since I don't know of a repair service around.

Posted by
8661 posts

RobertH, I once read a book in which a thrifty Scotsman (not kidding) only wore tube socks, and claimed that when a hole at the heel develop he would rotate the sock 90º so, in theory he could keep wearing the sock for four times the normal life. A hole at the toe would get tied off.

Posted by
2073 posts

I've bought some wool socks for hiking which are developing holes and I don't want to throw them away. Don't know how to darn and was thinking of learning since I don't know of a repair service around.

From experience, darning can cause blisters even if you are a good darner...

Posted by
225 posts

"...darning can cause blisters"

Not worth it then. Ah well...

Posted by
33 posts

Thank you for posting this. I have been wearing an old flannel shirt that belonged to my Dad but it is getting frayed. It's been a while since I did any sewing crafts or embroidery but I always loved it. I will take some photos and talk to these women when I am in Edinburgh in a few weeks. I'm starting to get through my list of really big must see sights and starting to think of very slow travel alternatives. A stay in London or Edinburgh just to commune with menders on my current project would be lovely. I wonder if any short term apartment rentals list sewing machines as amenities.