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Mending Clothes: A Slow Fashion Book Guide!

This post isn’t a tutorial teaching you how to mend clothes. For that, you’ll want to pop to another blog.

This post is about mending clothes in a sustainable and creative way.

You see, for me, mending clothes is about slow fashion. Sustainable fashion. Fashion that isn’t exploiting the planet and it’s finite resources, nor is it exploiting humans. (Psssst, I have a short video on the about me page explaining my thoughts on this!)

Note: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you make a purchase at no further cost to you.

Three books with white covers viewed end on.

Sustainable Fashion AKA Mending My Clothes

I’m a big believer in sustainable fashion. Sure, sometimes I go off piste, and make a spontaneous purchase that isn’t in the budget nor did I at the time look too deeply into the manufacturing country or the fibre content. But, when this does happen, it’s usually something I love, and take care of for many, many years.

Like the purple wool Oska coat I bought back in 2005 in the sale at Selfridges of all places. I’ve worn it every winter, from November through to late February / early March, and it was well worth the ‘extortionate’ sale price of £280 — imagine what that would cost today, 13 years on!

Yet, that amounts to £21 per year, which is around £6 per month.

I think it is safe to say that the cost per wear for that one coat is down to the pennies now! Boom!

Now, not every purchase will last that long, and sometimes, purchases can last decades longer. My other half’s leather jacket is a great example; his dad wore it in his younger days before handing it over to David, and though it needs a bit of love, he LOVES it… he’s just rubbish at mending clothes and needs me to find the time to do it for him!

So, why am I talking to you about these old clothing pieces today?

Mending Clothes

When it comes to slow fashion, we can make our own clothes, which will:

  1. Fit better
  2. Be more unique
  3. Ensure no human was exploited in the manufacture

Or we can reuse and repurpose what already exists, which is a bit more sustainable.

This post is all about the books I have used to help me create some wonderful unique ‘slow fashion’ pieces, by mending clothes by hand that already exist in my wardrobe, repurposing or redesigning my charity shop finds and even cutting up and recreating hand-me-down’s from friends and family.

This is one of my favourite things to do, and i thought that perhaps these books will inspire you to get creative with the clothes you need to mend?

Mending Matters by Katrina Rodabaugh

Mending Matters by Katrina Rodabaugh sewing book cover

This is a recent purchase for me. I’ve been eyeing it up since it started popping up in my Instagram feed, and my favourite evening activity is to curl up in bed and work through the pages.

It is inspiring me hugely, making me think about interesting ways I can mend my slightly worn items – including the above mentioned purple wool coat!

There was a very negative review of this book on Amazon, which I completely disagree with, and so added my review there. You can check out the book and read my review of it here.

The Geometry Of Hand-Sewing by Natalie Chanin

The Geometry of Hand Sewing by Natalie Chanin book cover

This book from Natalie Chanin – think Alabama Chanin, slow fashion brand! – is a beauty. I bought it back in April, and it’s only been displaced from my evening routine by the arrival of the book above, Mending Matters!

The book is filled with different hand stitches – and guides at the back of the book – so will work well in conjunction with Mending Matters to help me be really creative with my mending. You can buy a copy here!

The Art Of Manipulating Fabric by Colette Wolff

The Art Of Manipulating Matters Book Cover

This is currently the oldest book on my shelf – there are others, but they’re still in storage. I adore this book.

It is an encyclopaedia of fabric manipulation techniques, and was a key reference book during my fashion degree, helping me to really be creative with my designs.  So much so that my final year tutor declared me to be a textile designer and not a fashion designer! *rolls eyes*

I often pop into charity shops (thrift stores) looking for old curtains. I then apply a fabric manipulation technique and create something stunning to the large fabric piece and then make into something stunning for me!

The book is rarely opened now as having practised so many of the techniques over the years, they now feel like second nature to me, but I keep it with me, as it is an old friend.

Layered Cloth

Layered Cloth book cover

This fab book was added to my collection in January! Why? Well, the final outfit I created for my Foundation in Art & Design at Wimbledon College of Art was created using repurposed fabrics, layered upon each other and then slashed for a textured effect.

Exactly the methods shown in this book, only applied to fashion!

This book is great for being inspired when thinking of adding in layers to your existing clothes, to give them another lease of life and creating something a little more creative.

Stitch and Structure

This is a purely inspirational book, so I’ve put it last. The cover is made of velvet (yuck) so although it was a Christmas gift last year, I haven’t really done much with it other than have the boyfriend pop it – open – on the table for me to flick through. (I have a weird phobia of all things velvet!)

The photos are stunning, and if you’re experienced with sewing, and inclined towards being quite abstract-creative (is that even a term?), then you may love this book, as the number of inspiring 2D and 3D constructed examples is phenomenal.

Mending Clothes: Conclusion

There you go. Not a tutorial on mending clothes, but definitely an unusual book guide for extending the life your existing clothing, or even making new, creative clothes from charity / thrift store finds.

Do you have any of these books? Are there some on your Christmas sewing gift wish list? Better yet – are there any that you would recommend to me?

This coming week, I will be putting to good use a pair of sparkly curtains I found for £5 in a charity shop – using a variety of techniques in these five books!

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Friday 8th of July 2022

Eve, I was just flipping through Wolff’s “Art of Manipulating Fabric” earlier today.

In a similar vein, Jennie Rayment’s “Creative Tucks and Textures” takes the shaped tuck and turns it into some gorgeous art.

These are joined by a handful of “flower fabric folding” titles by various authors.

I don’t own any mending books specifically (except for chapters in a few old sewing books) … mostly because my fabulous local library carries many of the titles and I can check out to my heart’s content. There is something extremely satisfying about reading through a mending title!

Eve Tokens

Saturday 9th of July 2022

Hi Kira! I haven't seen the Jennie Rayment's one - will have to see if I can dig out a copy at the Forum here in Grun! Thank you for the suggestion! :)

Jacky F

Tuesday 15th of January 2019

A nice selection and a good way to think about mending. Thank you.

I bought the Layered Cloth book at a sewing show where Ann Small was showing her wonderful work. Unfortunately I didn't see her this year but anyone who might see her name in an exhibitor's list should definitely try to get there.

For those who might like a peek inside before buying The Art of Manipulating Cloth or Stitch and Structure, both can be accessed on Issuu.

Eve Tokens

Sunday 3rd of March 2019

Hi Jacky! Thanks so much for the Issuu info - I'm sure my readers will enjoy checking those out! :)