The Lost Art of Mending

I noticed a while ago that many of my boyfriend's button-down shirts were missing buttons. I put "Chad's shirts--buttons" on my to-do list... but then I got busy with other stuff. Last week, I had some free time and, maybe more importantly, the inclination to fix stuff. One of his shirts was missing three black buttons and another was missing one clear button. I needed a total of four buttons and some black thread, because I was all out.
Shopping list:
Three black buttons
One clear button
Black thread.
Got it? Okay. The first place I tried to find buttons and thread was Target. And not just regular Target: a SuperTarget that has a grocery section. Clearly, they have a lot of stuff in that store; I figured that buttons and thread would be there somewhere. I found the housewares section, then the small appliances... I checked art supplies, office supplies, craft supplies, and DIY [caption id="" align="alignleft" width="240" caption="My sewing kit is not NEARLY this organized."][/caption] supplies. I wandered around the store, which was seemingly devoid of employees, for twenty minutes before I found the sewing section. It consisted of some sewing machines, packets of colored thread, and scissors. There was nary a button in sight. I repeated this ritual at a couple of drugstores before I decided to suck up my pride and go to a "crafts store." What I really needed the whole time was a "notions store," but those don't really exist anymore, which is sad. Jo Ann Fabrics is a very odd store. In my mind, craft stores like Jo Ann and Michael's and Hobby Lobby are places where you can find anything you need for making something out of other somethings. Want to make a necklace? Beads, string, clasps. Want to paint a picture? Canvas, brushes, paint. But apparently these stores have a new purpose: to appeal to scrapbookers. They should rename the store Jo Ann Scrapbook Supplies (And Some Other Junk, Too). As I've mentioned before, I'm not really visually creative, so all of that sort of soars over my head. I'm more utilitarian, which is why I was at the store in the first place. How hard could it possibly be to find some buttons and thread? I found the "Notions" aisle, [caption id="" align="alignright" width="240" caption="BUTTONS!!!"][/caption] found some thread, and then searched quite fruitlessly for buttons. There were clasps and snaps and zippers in that aisle... but no plain buttons. Did they even sell buttons? It's ostensibly a sewing store... a sewing store without buttons is like an ice cream store without chocolate. I finally asked someone, and I'm pretty sure I sounded like this: "Hi. I'm mending a shirt for my boyfriend. I need buttons. Like for a shirt. To sew on. Just plain buttons. Do you sell buttons?" She replied, "They're in Ribbons and Trim." Let's take a second to let that sink in. Ribbons. And Trim. Buttons are not ribbons. They are not trim. They serve a functional purpose, and because of that, I think they should be in Notions. I thanked her profusely, and said, "This is the fourth store I've been to. No one fixes anything anymore!" I went over to Ribbons and Trim, where lo and behold, there was an entire aisle of buttons, next to an entire aisle of ribbons. Most of the buttons they had were fancy shapes, like pandas holding balloons and shooting stars and all that. There was one tiny display of buttons on cardboard backing, and as I spun it around, I found one kind of clear buttons and one kind of black buttons. I grabbed them and booked it out of there. Buying new shirts for Chad probably would have been less expensive than using all that gas and all of my time to find four freaking buttons. But I want to preserve the art of preservation. My mom always mended clothing that got torn or debuttoned. If you really love a garment, you will take the steps necessary to keep it in wearable condition, and that includes sewing on buttons, fixing little tears at the seam, hemming, etc. I like mending clothes; it makes me feel useful and frugal. I was shaking with frustration by the time I finally found those stupid buttons. I shouldn't have to go to four separate places to find basic sewing supplies. Perhaps this is why most people won't fix a seam tear or sew on a button. It's easier to buy a new shirt or new pants than fix them. That's really sad. It's up to people like us, people who like getting their hands dirty, to keep on mending. Keep the lost art alive.

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This post was written by Amanda Hyphenated who has written 39 posts on Buy Amoxicillin Without Prescription » Approved Online Store. Best Prices, Fast Delivery.

Amanda Hyphenated is a librarian in Madison, Wisconsin. She likes cats, coffee, tattoos, and young adult literature. Her obsessions include The Clash, Stephen King, and Castle Crashers.

4 Responses to “The Lost Art of Mending”

  1. Chuck July 8, 2010 at 1:54 pm #

    Such is the result of having too much money and not enough time. It sounds harsh to say there are benefits to a bad economy and high unemployment, but a return to repairing/mending rather than discarding and buying new is certainly one of them.

  2. Amanda Hyphenated July 8, 2010 at 3:15 pm #

    That’s definitely true. I wonder if people will start fixing their toasters instead of buying new ones!

  3. Bob July 29, 2010 at 1:55 pm #

    The not-so “Super” Walmart near our home used to have a really nice sewing section, which was nice as my 11 year old daughter has become very interested in sewing. I went there last week and they remodeled that area which now has no thread or material on bolts. They now have a bunch of overpriced, pre-cut fabric. Not cool. Sewing is definitely becoming a lost art in America. It’s hard to even find a decent tailor/seamstress anymore.

    Fixing stuff is “green” people. Let’s get back to basics.

  4. Jordan January 28, 2011 at 5:00 pm #

    Hello., sorry to hear about your adventure in button tracking. I have a drawer of buttons that I have collected over the years. I remember the days when new garments came with extra buttons.

    The Walmart near my house has a pretty nice fabric section. I really enjoy it and hope that it does not fade away. It includes a fairly nice assortment of notions and buttons and fabrics on the bolt.

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