Monday, October 19, 2015

On Shoes, Wearing, and Memory

I hadn’t paid attention to this week’s prompt when I wrote last week’s slow fashion October post, and I inadvertently provided a segue into this week's topic: worn.

While I was taught from a fairly early age (before double digits) how to hand sew simple things like hems and minor seam repairs on my clothes, I have, relatively speaking, led a repair-free clothing life, with one exception: shoes. I have been a regular visitor to any and all shoe repair shops/cobblers. I have always loved shoes, and while I don’t have too many pairs, I tend to take care of the ones I have. Part of it is definitely a thrift thing, but a large part of it is not wanting to give up on shoes that I love. How can I just glibly toss that pair that I have (quite literally in some instances) walked across entire cities in? Trekked across Route 66 in? Walked along the California coast in? Shoes have always contained deep personal memories for me, and thus my unwillingness to, oddly enough, either buy them used or give them up without a good repair fight. I need to form my own singular memories in those soles, thank you very much.

So my present willingness to repair things in my wardrobe isn’t quite such a stretch. I provide a wee pictorial of the repair I’ve completed on my Rustic Elegance shawl/cowl from last week:

Pardon the nighttime lighting, but here's the yarn I'll be using
to fix that pictured, very relaxed set of button holes on my
Rustic Elegance shawl/cowl.

I removed the buttons I originally used (the shank set
on the right) and will replace them with the round ones
to the left. They are simple mother of pearl buttons,
and I actually like the back of the buttons best.

Here are the new buttons all sewn onto the button band. 

And here's the repaired button hole band. I
used a 5.50 mm hook, worked one row of single
crochet across the entire edge, and then went back
with the mohair threaded into a tapestry needle and
"closed" both sides of each enlarged button hole
using a whip stitch.

Here's what it looks like buttoned.

And the final repair after a quick soak and dry. 

I have no idea if the techniques I used in the above repair are “traditional” or just a reflection of my more common sense approach.However, since this was one of my first prototypes, I actually hadn't perfected the art of blocking, because if I had the button hole band would not have been in quite such a stretched state. I cannot recommend blocking strongly enough - it is magic, really. Really. 

There are, as I’m now reading, several in the slow fashion community that focus on nothing but repair. I readily admit I hadn’t thought of clothing repair in such a deep and focused manner, although from an historical perspective, textile restoration is a specialty unto itself, so why not treat clothing in the same manner, especially when the whole point is to not just throw things away?

Nevertheless, just like my thought evolution on recycling and the environment, I’ve definitely had a shift in how I look at and approach my personal wardrobe.  As Katrina Rodabaugh succinctly put it in her slow fashion IG post last week, “. . . I think the most important thing might actually just be awareness … [a]nd realizing that one small shift can result in a huge change as those small shifts accumulate.”

I completely agree.


  1. Completely agree with awareness.

    In my life the clothing repair I most often encounter and have no clue how to fix are broken zippers. I really should spend some time on that.

    1. I can't say I've dealt with too many broken zippers, but I do like how I'm getting rather proficient at installing new ones in pieces I make. :)

  2. I am lazy when it comes to clothing repairs. I like the yarn you used for this project. It has a soft and heathery look to it.