Jayme asked the other day if I knew how to patch pants. I smirked inwardly since, unbeknownst to him I used to be the queen of patched pants. Dana and I used to religiously search the Goodwill for holey 501s. They needed a patch or two right from the start, but before long they were almost more patches than pants. The patches were always functional, but it was also important that they were fashionable as well. Selecting the right thread color was almost as important as the fabric. But as I patched Jayme’s jeans, the object was just the opposite, the less visible the better.
Why do we patch, mend and darn in a culture where it is so much easier and often not much less expensive than just buying new? Frugality and environmentalism are the forerunners, but more often than not the bottom line for me is attachment. I develop some sort of emotional attachment to the item and am not ready to let it go. Which makes me realize what an art there is to repair. You want to strengthen and reinforce something that is fragile, but also beloved. If you add too much you jeopardize the emotional connection to the item –perhaps they no longer feel or look the same. But if you do not augment them enough, you are at the task again before you know it.
So I reconstructed the back cuffs, gusseted the crotch and patched a couple thinning spots of his favorite jeans and now they are back in action. I hope I have not tipped the balance with my mending since the goal here was maintaining and not adorning. Whether the art of patching is aimed at invisibility or art, the result of breathing a little more life into an object is still satisfying. It felt like one small act in fighting the good fight against the consumerism of our throw-away society. Patch-on.