Have you heard of the #MendMarch instagram challenge? We're so lucky to have the creator, Kate Sekules of Visible Mend, sharing her passion for mending with us today! Everyday during the month Kate provides a prompt to help inspire others to mend, which is one of Kate's ultimate goals - to infect everyone with mending fascination! She is a legit Historian of Mending currently working on an M.A in Costume Studies and writing a book on the subject. I appreciate her fearless, no frills approach as well as her inventive, often humorous mends. Whether she's working on a high end garment or creating a whole new genre of "Mendspiration" like her signature greasytee or selfie-patch she has a unique style and distinct point of view.
1. How did you get started with mending?
I grew up mending! It’s simply never occurred to me to not mend. It may be because of being English, with European parents, because it’s more normal there, or used to be anyway. And the visible part just evolved: I still remember having the idea for the first one many, MANY years ago and actually I’ve kept the shirt. It is a totally rubbish mend.
2. Tell us a bit about your process. How do you plan out a project or mend? What kind of materials do you use?
The mend is always dictated by the style, fabric, position, colors, type of damage, and what I feel like sewing! Also I’m a vintage collector and fashion historian so I really love a piece with some provenance or an interesting designer—and I adore messing up so-called luxury labels. So I sit with the garment, think about which technique, colors, supplies, then pick out the stuff. I collect old and historic thread, yarn fabrics, trimmings, notions—the sourcing and curation and organization of it all is a big part of the process. It’s my candy store. Some women feel this way about make up; for me it’s all about haberdashery porn. I don’t plan too carefully because that would take the fun out of it—I like to see what emerges and I prefer unevenness, a certain messiness, otherwise it can resemble factory work, which is so impressive these days, and so depressing. I like to see the hand.
3. Hand work can take a fair amount of time and patience. How do you carve out time to mend?
It’s my sanity. It’s menditation. I swear sewing creates its own time—it’s magic! I guess I rarely surf the web (unless researching) and I don’t like social media, except instagram, so that saves a lot of time.
4. Are there any projects that you're particularly proud of? Maybe you tested out a new technique, had some breakthrough in your process, or just felt elated with the finished outcome.
I delusionally imagine I’ve invented loads of techniques—though I’m sure they’ve just seeped into my brain from someplace. But I tend to have special feelings for my firsts: a Dolce & Gabbana porthole sweater (seen above), a selfie-patch, a greasytee that’s still the best one, and an all hand-sewn apron dress with a mending poem (below) from 1954 Vogue stitched on the hem! And I love love love darning, so some of those are special to me.
5. Besides mending what are some of your interests? What are some ways you incorporate the "mend and make do" ethos in other aspects of your daily life?
I’m the historian of mending! Seriously, nobody has written the history of the thing that humans have done ever since clothes, so I started during my M.A. in Costume Studies and I’m never stopping: now looking for a PhD program. I love all the home arts: cooking, décor, even cleaning—in a completely feminist way of course. All is conscious, minimal-waste so there’s really no division between mending and not-mending. Above all I love hanging out with friends and family and my husband and daughter. And cats.
6. Any upcoming events or projects you'd like to share?
Why yes thanks for asking! Right now it’s #MendMarch –the second annual low-pressure, high-fun friendly mend fest on instagram I’d love everyone to join! I’ll be doing more teaching and events: first one is at RISD Museum May 16th –and we’ll be doing a Brooklyn one together soon, I hope, Jessica! And I’ve just signed a book contract with Penguin: Mend! The Clothes Revolution Stitch by Stitch, which I am beyond insanely excited about.