Repaired Things

Sandals: A Repair Saga
April 28, 2012, 1:40 pm
Filed under: fabric, leather, rubber | Tags: , , , , ,

I wore this pair of sandals the whole 7 months I was in India. Pretty soon, the soles started wearing thin. I could feel pebbles through the soles. So, when these kids approached me at a train station and offered to repair them for me, I asked them to make an insert.

The insert fell out pretty quickly since it wasn’t sewn in properly, so in Vrindavan, I had this cobbler sew in a proper insert for the heel. Perfecto.

Eventually, that wore down too, and a cobbler in Bangalore sewed an entire new sole to the bottoms of the existing ones. New treads!

No photo of the last repair, but I had another Bangalorean cobbler tighten the strap that goes between your toes. 3 years later and they’re still a major component of my summer gear!

A friend said they are probably one of the only pairs of cobbled Airwalks in the world.


Tote Bag
April 21, 2012, 3:07 pm
Filed under: fabric | Tags: , , , ,

Langmusi China, 2006. One handle had pulled off my tote bag, and this guy stitched it back on and reinforced the other one.

Very cool sewing machine! Looks like he’s mainly a cobbler.

Japanese Boro Textiles
January 16, 2012, 2:27 pm
Filed under: fabric | Tags: , , , ,

Boro Cotton Kimono, Yamagata Prefecture (Northern Japan) c. 1900

“Boro textiles were made in the late 19th and early 20th century by impoverished Japanese people from reused and recycled indigo-dyed, cotton rags. What we see in these examples are typical—patched and sewn, piece-by-piece, and handed down from generation-to-generation, where the tradition continued. These textiles are generational storybooks, lovingly repaired and patched with what fabric was available. Never intended to be viewed as a thing of beauty, these textiles today take on qualities of collage, objects of history, and objects with life and soul.” — via Accidental Mysteries

This image (via Wafu Works) reminds me of Tsubasa’s Jeans, which his mother has mended over and over again.

Sewing Rebellion
October 17, 2011, 8:06 pm
Filed under: fabric | Tags: ,

At Barter Town, I met Maya of the NYC chapter of Sewing Rebellion. She was giving out these little mending kits and teaching folks to sew buttons and disguise stains with embroidery.

From their mission statement:

Sewing Rebellion meetings are a way for people to help each other reclaim basic sewing skills, mending skills, tailoring, and so on.  SR meetings are FREE, because sewing should be a right, not a privilege. As a former coordinator (and current “traveling correspondent”) said, “people buy something at Kmart and it gets a hole in it and they go and buy another one. That’s problematic for a number of reasons. It’s supporting the worldwide garment industry, which is extremely exploitative, so that we can have cheap stuff that breaks. It’s also contributing to everyone looking the same. You spend a lot of money and you look like everybody else, and you’re helpless when things break or don’t work. This is just a simple way that you can be more self-sufficient.” Well said Amelia. Hence, the SR tagline “Stop Shopping, Start Sewing!”

Hell yeah!! Sewing=Rebellion. Repair=Revolution.

Also check out their simple PDF guides to simple repairs and a Mending Circle every first Thursday at the Textile Arts Center.

Karen’s Fantasy Darning
October 11, 2011, 8:19 am
Filed under: fabric | Tags: , , ,

Karen Barbé darned a prominent rip in her dress and then disguised the repair with embroidery. So beautiful!!

She wrote:

For mending this dress I have used traditional darning techniques as well as embroidery stitches (cross-stitch and running stitch). It was hard to decide how to do it because the rip was in such a conspicuous spot so I went for this “fantasy darning”, a mix of things. I didn’t want it to look too patched nor to show it’s actually mended. Now the sad thing is I have just found another rip next to the hem. Damn, this dress is disintegrating!”

View her original post.

Spiderweb & Mushroom repair
October 7, 2009, 11:04 pm
Filed under: organic material | Tags: , , ,

Last week I saw Nina Katchedourian speak at Drew University. She has done some amazing repairs.

Spiderwebs (read more here):




Mushrooms (more here):


Rake & Jar
September 20, 2009, 11:32 am
Filed under: ceramic, wood | Tags: , , ,

This is a description of two repairs from The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck:

“He stayed in his house and while the woman mended and sewed he took his rakes of split bamboo and examined them, and where the string was broken he wove in new string made of hemp he grew himself, and where a prong was broken out he drove in cleverly new bits of bamboo. And what he did for the farm implements, his wife, O-lan, did for the house implements. If an earthen jar leaked she did not, as other women did, cast it aside and talk of a new one. Instead she mixed earth and clay and welded the crack and heated it slowly and it was as good as new.”