Repairing denim, it runs in the jeans.
With more than 10 years in the game, Renee Williams spends her time teaching clothes mending skills around Auckland through her company The Perfect Hour. She’s also an advocate for understanding the impact that fast fashion has on the environment and volunteers her time to Koha mending some of our donations. We caught up with Renee to talk about the creative Visible Mending movement, ways we can combat our clothing environmental footprint and how sewing quite literally runs in her jeans.
What made you want to donate your time to Koha?
When I saw the amazing work Koha are doing, I was intrigued to find out more. On chatting with Charli, it was clear to me that our values are closely aligned, and I could use my skills to help out.
You've got a unique style for repairing jeans, how did you first start sewing and creating these designs?
My interest in sewing began about 10 years ago. My grandmother was a professional sewist and I realised that I needed to learn some of her skills before she got too old to teach me. Some of the tools I use are hers and that makes me happy every day.
Repairing came later. As I learned more about the impact of Fast Fashion on the planet and people, one of the factors that is often mentioned as an antidote is mending. I, like many people was a reluctant mender – something I did when I absolutely had to. However, that all changed, when I stumbled upon the Visible Mending movement. Visible mending is an amazing way to make mending fun, to add creativity and personality to your clothes. Once I found that idea, I was hooked. My practice is constantly evolving and each mend challenges me often both creatively and technically.
Although denim is derived from natural materials, cotton, the huge amounts being produced every single day is unsustainable.
In your option, what’s the best thing we can do to lower our environmental footprint when it comes to our clothing consumption?
The number one thing is to wear what we already own. Learning basic mending and sewing skills can help keep our clothes in a great condition for longer. These skills also allow us to make small changes to garments to help them fit better or update the style.
Learning to mend helps put us back in control. We no longer need to run out and replace a garment when it gets a hole. Instead, we get to choose when and if we want to purchase something new.
I also like to shop with a ‘mending mindset’, I ask myself whether I love this item enough to want to spend time mending it later on. If the answer is no, I won’t buy it. Kind of like buying a puppy – if I’m not in it for the long term, it’s a no go!
What would be your top tips and tricks for caring for your denim and fixing them?
Mending a small hole is easier than mending a large one, so mending sooner rather than later is a good idea.
Don’t let a lack of confidence put you off having a go at mending. You will only get better with practice and no one is looking that closely at the stitches you may think are a little wonky.
If you are feeling nervous about mending your most beloved pair of jeans, don’t start there. Practice mending some items you are less invested in first – a tea towel or pillowcase for example. Build up your confidence first. Remember, if you are not happy with your stitches, you can take them out and try again.