Darn It: Repair and Rewear
By Natalie Bencivenga
June 23, 2021
I have to admit. Whenever something I wore would tear, I would toss it. I would think to myself, “I can’t fix it and now I can buy something new.” Wasteful, I know. But, over the years, I have learned to find value in the things that I am lucky enough to have and not to quickly throw things away that are a little more loved than others.
However, I have (yet!) another confession to make. Other than sewing buttons back on, I have no sewing skills whatsoever. I have, instead, asked my mother and husband to hem for me, fix straps on my dresses, repair little tears along the bottom of my skirts, and fix holes in sweaters. While I could feel smug for doing my part, it’s not really me that’s doing the work.
I remember when I was little. My grandmother, Pasqualina, would sew me dresses when she would visit from out of town. In particular, I remember she made me a beautiful Easter dress when I was 11 years old that I wore with so much pride. The idea that someone could look at a pattern, find fabric, and create something out of nothing was truly remarkable to me. My mom made all of my Halloween costumes, I had bathing suits made by her friends, and I wore her old dresses around the house to play in. The women in my family were ahead of their time when it came to sustainable fashion.
And not a moment too soon. Globally, 80% of discarded textiles end up in landfills or are incinerated. Only 20% of our clothes end up reused or recycled. What’s worse, clothing that ends up in landfills can sit there for 200-plus years, and as the garments decompose, they emit methane — a greenhouse gas more potent than carbon.
And while I recognize that individual actions are not enough to change this trajectory — we need a global response from corporations and governments — I still feel as though I need to pick up the torch and learn how to sew on my own.
I should know how to do this. I’m in my 30s. This is embarrassing. If anyone else is feeling this way — and believe me I won’t judge — then take a look at the list below for some resources so that we can contribute to saving our clothes, buying less and enjoying more of what we have. If that isn’t eco-chic, I don’t know what is!
Want to learn to knit? Check out this upcoming festival!
Overwhelmed and not really ready to DIY? Visit Urbana Boutique in Oakmont. The shop has a tailor coming in every week to repair and customize your pieces!