We did it!
The first Mending Cafe took place in Tamworth town centre last week at the Cosy Cafe, George Street.
It was a small turn out, a couple of familiar faces with my #StitchItDontDitchIt partner in street stitchery, Heide Goody and fellow Tamworth Climate Action group member, Helen Perry as well as a couple of new faces. Sonia and Edith had been displaying their crafts for sale at the Craft Market in St Editha's Church Hall before joining us.
I'll admit I was pretty nervous walking to the meeting, not knowing who would arrive - if anyone! Past experience with similar ventures locally has shown that sustainability events have not drawn large crowds. In fact the Street Stitching I organised last year attracted only three! Five then is a bonus!
The purpose of the meet-ups is to encourage clothing repair in a friendly group environment. This enables those without sewing skills to pick up some tips and more experienced stitchers to share skills with everyone involved saving some cherished clothing.
Mending comes in many forms from straightforward hems to more complex embroidery. Mending groups have been around for decades with their heyday during the first and second world war years and Make Do & Mend ideology. The sixties saw the rise of the paper sewing pattern and more affordable sewing machinery and by the seventies, making your own clothes and repairing them was second nature for many.
As fast fashion took hold and high street fashion chains boomed, ready to wear lured people away from creating their own style. With supermarket chains joining the fast fashion race and prices dropping, this trend grew and the boom of internet shopping and with it even cheaper, faster fashion meant clothing costs fell again. Competing against £5 dresses and the infamous Missguided £1 bikini has meant throwaway fashion has risen and with it the clothing landfill sites.
This little venture in no way sets out to preach about consumer trends by advising against high street fashion shopping. On the contrary, we all have our weaknesses (mine is TKMaxx..) and not everyone is able to make and or/repair garments be that due to expertise or time constraints. The Mending Cafe is about keeping our clothes alive. Its replacing the zip in a favourite dress, turning up trousers that are too long, darning a hole in worn out socks, sewing a button back on a coat. It's extending the lifespan of our wardrobes; if we give our clothes just nine extra months that can significantly reduce its environmental impact.
With over twenty years experience of mending, reworking and making clothes I can help advise on upcycled designs, creating new garments from old. Amongst our small gathering last week the skill set was varied, sometimes we all need a little inspiration and mending with friends is a great way to get that. Even clothing that is passed its best can be remade into something new and useful. Bring along that threadbare cardigan you can't part with or jeans with holes in all the wrong places and lets see where our imagination takes us.
It would be lovely to see more menders at next weeks meeting. If sewing's not your cup of tea then maybe a drink and a chat in this lovely town centre cafe can help sway you into checking out some mindful mending - menditation has its benefits too.
I'll be just as nervous heading down next week I'm sure so don't be shy, come say hi and see what it's all about, the more the mendier!
Mending Cafe, Cosy Cafe, George Street, Tamworth. B79 7LL
Saturday 28th May 2-4pm First Floor - Hand Sewing Only