We have a philosophy that a tear, hole or stain, is the end of a garments life. In the world of fast fashion where clothes are cheap, made out of low quality fabric and outdated when the season changes throwing out clothes with a hole, tear or stain. But If the fabric we’ve invested in is quality, more expensive, and wears well, it is much harder to part with. That beautiful fine wool cardigan is worth repairing when it has a pull or ladder.
My own nana was a skilled darner. I’ve inherited a fine wool blanket which she has lovingly darned with skill I can only dream of mastering. The darning merging into the threads of the blanket in a way that mystifies me. I’m a skilled hand and machine sewer. I’m clever at mending, but I confess I’ve never learnt the art of darning.
Darning and mending
Repairing clothing used to be seen as an art. Skilled darning ability was prized. Throughout history and across cultures darning and mending was one considered an art form. Repairing prized cloth by Rafoogari was seen as having the ability to repair relationships and make the precious cloth stronger and more beautiful through its mending.
In Japanese culture kimonos and cloth were darned and repaired using skilful and elaborate Shiburi techniques. Fabric was valued, and care was taken to preserve clothing that cost time and money to create. Clothing was more valuable than the thrill of a trendy lunch time high street purchase.
The art of repair was seen to add value to items. Broken ceramics were put back together with gold. The result is a bowl or vase more beautiful to the eye and stronger than the original.
At Asia Gallery and Vintage Fabric Emporium you’ll find handmade kimonos of silk, cotton and wool. It is a treasure trove of colour, fine fabric, beautiful objects and furniture and the smell of beautiful fragrant furniture oil.
Asia Gallery and Vintage Fabric Emporium was a Wellington institution, but moved to Auckland just over a year ago to consolidate their warehouse and shop. It’s a great place to spend a Saturday browsing through the many racks of colour. Paul and Laongdao import vintage fabrics, kimono, furniture and objects from Kyoto. You’ll find beautiful silk Shibori dyed kimono made with. My favourite amongst the racks are the vintage jackets that are over 100 years old. The exquisite Sashiko mending and patchwork strengthens the garment and makes a simple garment even more beautiful.
How might your earning add strength and beauty to your garments? Instead of being upset that your favourite item of clothing is damaged how might darning add to its life and story?
If you’re interested in Learning more about Sashiko stitching check out the links below:
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