Wendyl Nissen

Wendyl Nissen on being 'The Supportive Wife'

Wendyl Nissen: Mending undies is a stitch too far

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Darning jerseys and old woollen socks is all very well, but some old clothes should be consigned to the bin.

Spending a few nights darning a hole so that you can keep wearing them is just not cost-effective. Photo / Thinkstock
Spending a few nights darning a hole so that you can keep wearing them is just not cost-effective. Photo / Thinkstock

Mending clothes is a lost art in this industrial world where you can pick up a pair of new socks for next to nothing. Spending a few nights darning a hole so that you can keep wearing them is just not cost-effective.

I have tried to explain this fact to my husband on the many occasions when he stands before me holding out an item of clothing. The look on his face is not quite "beggar asking for money" but it has a very close resemblance to "lost soul doesn't want to throw out his favourite jeans".

"Could you?" he says.

"What?"

"Mend them. They've still got life in them yet," he pleads.

In his hands are a pair of jeans which last had a hem when Nelson Mandela was still in jail.

They have already been mended twice, the fabric is barely holding it together and one final rip has taken place in the bum. The jeans are quite obviously trying to tell him something.

"Let us go. Our job here is done. Buy another pair, they're not that expensive," they cry.

As a supportive wife I know that my answer should be "certainly dear, just pop them over there on the couch and I'll get to them after tea while we listen to the wireless".

But instead I just say "add them to the pile".

This is the pile on top of his wardrobe which, at last count, was made up of three pairs of ripped jeans, two shirts with buttons missing and three jumpers with holes in them. All very expensive and all much loved by their owner.

The problem is that I can sew. I'm old enough to have endured home economics at school and ever since I completed my first sewing project, an orange and white gingham pillow case, I have been a sewer.

I embroider, I like to make curtains and in my youth I sewed all my clothes, or altered them from op shop finds.

"It just seems such a waste, when you can save them. Aren't you the one who's into recycling everything?" says my husband throwing the latest casualties onto the pile, knowing deep down that it just isn't going to happen.

Over the years he has gifted me items such as his late mother's darning bulb as helpful aids to my role as chief mender. And to this day a rather ugly tin can takes pride of place on his bedroom dresser, full of nothing but buttons which once belonged to - yes you guessed it - his late mother.

"You could probably throw that tin of buttons out, I have quite a few in my sewing basket," I ventured one day.

No reply. Just a look more commonly associated with tiny puppies who have been kicked in the guts.

But, this year, as I continue my supportive wife challenge, I recently set myself the target of mending one item a week. It's winter, what else are you going to do in front of the fire during those long, cold nights?

It was all going well as I chose the jumper with the tiniest hole and stitched away at it while chortling at Miranda on the telly and had it finished by the end of the show.

The next night I had planned to drink which means no mending for me as a safety precaution but a pair of old jeans was placed neatly on the arm of the couch along with my sewing basket.

Then the next morning I was presented with three pairs of underwear which had "lost their elastic or something".

Enough.

"They have done more than lost their elastic," I said. "You were wearing the damned things when you met me 17 years ago. And if you think I'm mending smelly old man's undies you've got another thing coming."

He's still wearing them despite their cries of indignation.

- NZ Herald

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