One of the most captivating opening scenes in a film can been seen in Bright Star directed by Jane Campion. In the scene, Fanny Brawne (played by Abbie Cornish) is stitching by a window as her little sister ‘Toots’, watches on. The scene is shot close up so each meticulous stitch through the fabric is shown in exquisite detail. Watch here:
Fanny Brawne is a talented and confident young woman who designs and sews her own clothes. Her fine work is featured throughout the film in her splendid costumes. The fabric textures, colours and needlework are sumptuous. And Fanny gets some cracker lines. She boasts to John Keats (the famous poet and her love interest) and his friend Charles Brown,
‘My stitching has more merit and admirers that your two scribblings put together. And I can make money from it.’
And later, alone to John Keats:
‘This is the first frock in all of Woolwich and Hampstead to have a triple pleated mushroom collar.’
Oh to be like Fanny Brawne with a needle and thread!
The other day I went to put on my favourite red cardigan and noticed the seam coming apart along the collar. My first thought was to return it to the store but when I found my receipt, it was two months old. Hmmm… The ‘simple living’ voice inside reminded me that mending is better anyway.
Dilemma. Even though I have daydreams of making my own fabulous fashion like Fanny Brawne, the reality is that my sewing skills are ordinary. They are best described as entry level. I can thread a needle, sew on a button, do blanket stitch, running stitch, back stitch and machine sew straight lines.
Not brilliant, but my sewing know-how is enough for basic mending so I toughened up and I got out my little wooden sewing box. I sat down next to the window just like Fanny Brawne. In minutes the mending was done and I will get to wear my beloved cardigan many more times. I decided to mend the cuff of my trench coat while I was at it. In the end it was very satisfying and good for the soul.
I could certainly work on my skills though! I found a variety of resources on the internet that teach basic mending skills. Too many to mention and I prefer books anyway so I found a couple of books on mending in our local bookshop, The Turning Page. http://www.indies.com.au/TheTurningPageBookshop
The first one was Mending Matters by Katrina Rodabaugh, published in 2018 by Abrams. For starters, I love the title and the book is beautifully presented. Apart from clear instructions for various mending techniques, the author writes convincingly about the benefits of mending and slow fashion.
The other book I found was Make and Mend by Jessica Marquez, published in 2018 by Watson-Guptill Publications. Make and Mend is a gorgeous guide to the Japanese art of sashiko or ‘visible mending’ in which mending becomes a featured work of art. If you enjoy sewing and want to expand your skills, this could be your next thing!
I know from experience that mending can sometimes be a daunting prospect. So if you are a bit wobbly like me, best advice is to start small with achievable projects and if you can, find a friend to help you learn.
For big mending jobs, alterations or whatever is beyond you, there are people who can help. I have used the excellent services of A Stitch Above in Springwood. To find A Stitch Above: Suite 5a, 167-169 Macquarie Road, Springwood. It’s upstairs. You will also find there the most beautifully handcrafted children’s clothing line called Archie Bee. Such sweeeeeeet little outfits! Go check them out on instagram: https://www.instagram.com/archiebee.clothing/?hl=en
or here: https://archiebee.com.au/
In the meantime, happy mending!