Turning old clothes into new favourites: Modern Mending

With her new Etsy shop Caroline Hurd wants to make people rethink how they consume clothing and fashion

Islander Caroline Hurd wants you to think twice before tossing that worn-out pair of leggings – they might just be part of your new-old favourite t-shirt. They could also be part of your new sustainable lifestyle. 

In an era of disposability and fast fashion, the Recycling Council of Ontario says that the average Canadian throws away 81 pounds of textiles every year and 85 per cent of all textiles end up in landfill. 

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With this in mind, last month Hurd, a London (England)-trained fashion designer turned stay-at-home mom (though she still does custom women’s clothing orders), launched her new Etsy business, Modern Mending. She sells hand-illustrated patterns for patches and appliques – methods for sewing new life into a favourite pair of jeans or an unfortunately stained T-shirt.

The Skull Patch from Modern Mending.
The Skull Patch from Modern Mending. - Submitted

“The tutorials are simply made so somebody who’s never sewn before will be able to do [them],” explains Hurd. 

Hurd has spent more than a decade on the playgrounds of Bowen with one eye on her kids, the other on the needle and thread mending their clothing. Her patterns spring not only from necessity (fixing the inevitable holes in children’s clothing) but also the fashion runways of her former life. 

Patterns range from skull knee patches (ostensibly for children) to “Love” stencils for the stain-attracting chest area. All the patterns so far are under $10 and illustrations guide sewers through the process.

“For me, not knowing how to sew is a bit like not knowing how to cook,” says Hurd. “So this is another way to ease people back into the habit of sewing and fixing their clothes.”

“The first time you’re going to do it, obviously, it’s a bit of a big project. But after that it takes two hours to make and you’ve got the pattern. You know how to do it,” she says, noting as well the therapeutic and meditative benefits of hand stitching. 

Sprinkled throughout the patterns are quick tricks learned from Hurd’s years in the fashion industry and sustainability tips, such as choosing cotton thread rather than a polyester blend, when repairing cottonwear. 

In the sustainability thread, Hurd is a believer in the cradle to cradle philosophy where products are in a closed-loop system – nothing is wasted. Biological products can degrade in nature and technological products can be recycled. In fashion, cradle to cradle requires refraining from blending non-organic and organic materials (like the ever-popular polyester-cotton combination) as they’re neither recyclable nor degradable. 

The Mother T-Shirt Stencil and Curved Patch for jeans from Modern Mending
The Mother T-Shirt Stencil and Curved Patch for jeans from Modern Mending. - Submitted

Hurd says that Modern Mending is her way of lobbying for change in the fashion industry and of making people rethink how they consume.  

“The industry is not going to change until people are aware of the problem. You know, it’s a question of offer and demand,” she says.

Hurd has eight designs in her shop with plenty more to come. Most can be done with a needle and thread, though at least one is just for sewing machines. For more information visit modern-mending.com/

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