Scotland-based knitwear designer Flora Collingwood-Norris is on a mission to teach people how to mend their clothes in the name of using fewer resources and avoiding waste. The fashion industry is pretty wasteful, so why fan the flame by purchasing more clothes to replace torn or damaged ones?
To help people on their zero-waste journeys, Collingwood-Norris offers mending workshops and has released digital mending guides. All that’s required to begin mending your own clothes is “just a needle, some yarn, a pair of scissors and something holey,” she says.
Her newest book zones in on knitwear, which has specific considerations because of how the material stretches and unravels, but a lot of the techniques she demonstrates are transferable to a wider wardrobe. When you feel confident in your basic skills, you can use darning on a variety of fabrics.
“Some of the pieces I’ve repaired for clients have been passed on over generations,” she explains. “Being able to repair such special sentimental pieces is wonderful. Clothes should last a lifetime, not a season.”
That said, gaping holes and moth-eaten pieces can be intimidating, especially for a beginner, but Collingwood-Norris offers an innovative strategy called visible mending that can make these challenging pieces of clothing seem less overwhelming. This is a mending method that doesn’t hide the repair by discreet mending but highlights it in a joyful and playful way.
“Visible repairs are not only becoming a badge of honor but a political act,” declares Collingwood-Norris. She believes that visible mending proudly proclaims the individual’s desire to do away with fast fashion and slow down consumerist culture by taking care of what we already have instead of throwing it away at the sight of the first hole or tear.
Plus, because the whimsical mending is so noticeable, it often becomes a conversation starter and an avenue to encourage other people to be mindful of their own practices when it comes to caring for or buying clothes.