A stitch in time, that saves you skills worth a lifetime.

I’m Kate and I’m excited to be launching ‘You Think Sew’ – The Bower’s first Community Repair Day for clothing this weekend (16 Nov)! When I went to school, I didn’t have the opportunity to do sewing or industrial arts, but I loved to sew with my grandmothers on their treadle sewing machines. The calming hum of the machine, and pump of the treadle machine was the sound of my childhood’s ‘working life’. That, and my grandma swearing in her Scottish brogue when she struck herself with the needle! It wasn’t just skills in sewing I learnt by my grandmothers’ side but also an attitude – frugal and careful. Clothes had a ‘continued life’. When an item of clothing got beyond the point of usability, buttons would be cut off and put in a button jar, cottons and silks were cut down into hankies (and eventually composted), clothes became polishing rags, and of course a good zip was worth its weight in gold.

An unpicking tool was a staple in many households. Just like my dad had his jars of nuts, bolts and screws of various sorts in his shed, my grandmas had their jars of buttons and zippers. If you didn’t have a matching button, you could strip them all off, save them, and pull a complete set out of the button jar. I was shocked to learn that in Australia, we dump 500 million kg of clothing in landfill every year. If that’s a hard figure to get your head around, that amounts to 23 kg for each of us, each year, or 6 ton of clothing dumped every 10 minutes.

People who sew are always so kind and generous of their time and skill. I’ve gained so much knowledge from the support of others. I wanted to give back. While being far from a ‘professional’, I can repair clothes to functionality, and my simple repair skills open up a world of possibility. When I’m in an opp shop if there’s a damaged item of clothing I can buy it and make it useful. There will always be a place for highly trained skilled professionals to do the invisible mending, just like most of us wouldn’t attempt to repair the brakes on our car. But being able to make slight modifications of clothes, to take them in a little, or take up the hems, as people change, or clothes are passed along, are also hugely useful life skills.

The valuable art and skill of clothing repair has given me a lifetime of joy, satisfaction and pride that I want to share with others. I want to help people gain confidence too, and not have a fear of trying! When people text me a photograph and say, ‘look I’ve put my own button on’, I’m so proud!

With The Bower’s Community Repair Days, educational programs and campaign work, we’re working at the forefront of the Repair Revolution to turn those terrible stats around. I’d like to ask you to support our Community Repair Days as part of our Right to Repair Campaign (click here), turn the tide on our ‘throwaway culture’ and revive the lost art of repair.

Please donate now to help The Bower bring back the art and culture of repair, and fund our community repair days.

I hope you can support our Community Repair Days and ‘Right to Repair campaign, and hope to see you at one of our Community Repair Days soon!

Blog post by,

Kate – Clothing Repair Facilitator