When Life Gives You Scraps, Make A Quilt

Remember when you bought a brand new top, it would come with some extra buttons along with all the tags? I always saved them, thinking I might need it someday. But over time I’ve realized I’ve never used even one of those extra buttons. Not because nothing ever came loose, but because I started just replacing the tops instead.

And it’s not like I could sew them on myself anyway. I have vague memories of learning to sew a button when I was a kid, along with the cross stitch and the chain stitch. But over the years I forgot all about sewing, progressing to ‘cooler’ hobbies to channel my creativity into. Plus I always had mom around.

I’ve always admired my mom’s flair for putting clothes back together. Coming from a family where money was tight, and options were limited, she grew up entirely self-reliant, especially when it came to fashion. If she wanted to wear the latest styles to college, she would just sew them herself. Even as I look back at my own childhood, I remember my mom using her sewing machine on the weekends, stitching up pajamas for my dad or altering her own nightgowns.

Most recently we made some home-made masks with scraps of cotton we had lying around, on my mom’s trusty Singer sewing machine. A nip here, a tear there, these were things that most women of her generation can fix in a jiffy.

It feels like this is a lost art. Our generation has been so busy trying to prove how independent we are, we may have missed out on the idea that being able to mend your own shirt is also a necessary skill to be self-sufficient. The early morning drama of realizing a button is missing on the school uniform is still a vivid memory, as is the specific relief of having a mom around in these situations.

But word on the ‘gram is that sewing is cool again.

This both surprises me and kinda doesn’t. I can totally picture 16-year olds learning embroidery over an online tutorial. It’s just as weird as seeing a paparazzi picture of Kendall Jenner in cycling shorts and dad sneakers. It doesn’t make sense, and yet it kinda does.

We can’t deny that fashion is cyclical. And if people making their own clothes again is going to be the new norm, I’m excited. Because getting new clothes has become so easy – I don’t remember having to do more than tap on my phone a few times to get cheap and fashionable attire from thousands of kilometers away within a week.

It’s time we put some more thought into the clothes we buy, and appreciate the clothes we wear. All the unnamed daily wage workers in factories and workshops, the artisans and craftsmen who invest their skills into the clothes deserve more. Here’s to threading needles and hemming pants, in finding joy in working with your own hands, and for all the second/third/fourth chances we’re giving our clothes.

And if you’d rather have someone else sew your clothes back, have you seen our crowd-sourced list of tailors in Mumbai?

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