Visible Mending Blends Fiber Arts with Sustainability

Visible Mending Activates Creativity and Gives New Life to Old Clothes

Favorite jeans are torn at the knees, treasured flannels have frayed at the elbows, the warmest of socks have split in the toes; what’s the fate of all of these once new, now well-loved garments? Rather than passing them on to a thrift store or adding them to a sewing scrap pile, families can give new life to their well-worn clothes by doing a bit of creative visible mending. Combining basic sewing skills, a bit of artistry, and the principles of leading a more sustainable lifestyle, visible mending is a perfect solution to the woes of well-worn clothing, and provides a simple means of upcycling goods. It’s even a great entry point for exploring sewing skills!

The concept of mending, of course, has been around for eons – dating back to a time when simply buying a replacement simply wasn’t an option. Today, mending remains important, and offers many a simple fix for the small tears and worn patches that clothes will inevitably experience. Visible mending, however, differs from regular mending in that it’s meant to be seen (hence its name), and gives new life to articles of clothing by not only fixing rips, tears, and the like, but by adding interesting (and perhaps artistic) details to clothing. Visible mending is not only practical, but can be exciting and engaging for creative folks. Read the rest of this entry »

Sewing Skills Connect Local Culture, Local History, and Self-Sufficiency

Sewing Skills Connect Local Culture, Local History, and Self-Sufficiency

While hand-sewn clothes have largely been replaced by factory-made ones, the ability to sew remains a useful skill. For children, learning to sew can present opportunities not only to learn a new skill, exercise creativity, and hone fine motor skills, but it can lead to community-based learning about local culture and local history, as well!

Learning to sew can be difficult, but by starting small, families can share (or learn together) the basic needle skills necessary for hand sewing. Adults or teens who are able to stitch using a simple needle and thread can share that skill with children, allowing them to learn how to patch together fabrics or perhaps mend their own clothes. Families who have sewing machines at home can share machine skills with older children who are able to control the machine’s pedals, buttons, and dials while still keeping a good stitch pace. Read the rest of this entry »

Bag-Sew Builds & Connects Community from Berkshires to the Valley

Sewing Marathon Creates 485 New Bags for the Bagshare Project!

Leni Fried of Cummington, MA writes:

"It is great that we are keeping unwanted textiles out of landfills and recycling that fabric into useful bags that reduce the use of disposable plastic and paper bags," writes Amanda.

Hello Bag Sharers,

The Bag Share Sewing Marathons were a roaring success! I sewed for 24 hours straight. By 3 in the morning I felt like I was inside a giant sewing machine and there was nothing outside of it. By 7:30 a.m. I emerged from the church to see a brilliant rainbow over the fields and the rushing sound of the Westfield River. It was beautiful. Then off to a delicious breakfast compliments of The Old Creamery.

I sewed 118 bags and Amanda sewed for 19½ hours and sewed at least 30 of her special art bags.

Here’s some of what Amanda wrote about The Bagshare Project:

“It is great that we are keeping unwanted textiles out of landfills and recycling that fabric into useful bags that reduce the use of disposable plastic and paper bags. But I can’t help being even more inspired by the way Bag-Sews build community. It was so wonderful meeting smart, creative, sustainability-oriented individuals from our sister hilltowns to the south. I hope we can do more of this pan-hilltown organizing and cross-pollinating. It’s important to work on sustainability issues within our particular communities, but I think we also need to begin thinking about how to create the regional unity to make all of Western Mass (and beyond!) sustainable.

“The Bag-Sew events are one feature of Bag Shares that distinguish them from the reusable bags that “big box” stores now commonly sell. Whereas the latter bags are mass-produced in far off factories by anonymous workers, Bag Share bags are produced by local residents who are learning new skills, expressing their creativity, and making new friends. “

More Successes:

  • Kathi from Simmons Furniture in Pittsfield headed up a satellite marathon for Berkshire Organics.  They sewed 50 bags.
  • Diana Fabig was sewing in solidarity at home and sewed 10 bags.
  • The total for Cummington with about 25 people attending throughout the 24 hour period was 425 bags.
  • The full total was 485 bags plus lots of new friends and community connections.
  • And potential landfill fabric was collected using people’s commutes from Pittsfield to Springfield.

So to recap: I recommend marathoning! Staying up sewing with friends for 24 hours was fun and gave me a renewed appreciation for our world. Leaving to sew in the light of early morning, continuing into the darkness of night and then becoming aware of the light again gradually blending with the darkness into the next morning punctuated by the sounds of sewing!

Photo credit: (ccl) Andy Melton

Hilltown 24-Hour Bagshare Sewing Marathon this Spring!

Sewing Marathon: Sew Bags for the Ten Bagshare Locations in the Valley, Hilltowns and Berkshire County

Leni Fried of Cummington, MA writes:

threading the needle

24-Hour Bagshare Sewing Marathon begins Saturday, April 16th at 7:30am. Sign up to participate or organize a marathon in your area!

The Hilltown 24-hour sewing marathon will be at The Village Church and Hilltown Sewing Center on Main Street in Cummington, MA on April 16th—17th from 7:30am to 7:30am the following day. There will be six 4-hour shifts with at least one experienced bag sewer to head up each shift. Please let me know if you can head up a shift.

The idea is to sew as many strong and quality bags as possible in the time allotted.  • No rules. • Sew tags on existing bags. • Make kits ahead of time. • Just use scrap fabric is the main thing. • Sign up for a shift. • You don’t have to stay for the whole shift. • No sewing experience is necessary.

Here are the shifts:

  • 7:30am—11:30am
  • 11:30am—3:30pm
  • 3:30pm—7:30pm
  • 7:30pm—11:30pm
  • 11:30pm—3:30am
  • 3:30am—7:30am (Insomniac shift! This is a very popular shift. Barbara and I are already signed up for it. Bring your jammies! The Creamery will be supplying Rattlesnake Brew coffee to keep the sewers going.)

The Creamery will open early for breakfast at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday, April 17th to feed the bag sewers!


We invite you to organize your own marathon in any increment so people travel shorter distances to participate. The marathon can be organized as a 4-, 8-, 12-, 16-, or 24-hour marathon. We encourage ride sharing, car filling, carpooling, bike driven and human power to get to the marathon!

For now e-mail me to sign up and let me know if you are organizing a marathon in your area. Remember yours can be any amount of time you want. I hope that they all can be on the Saturday/Sunday before Earth Day so the bags can re-supply the 10 locations as an Earth Day action.

Let me know your thoughts. This is a FUN thing!

Photo credit: (ccl) Leia Barker

Clothing Repair Clinic in the Hilltowns. Reduce your clothing miles!

Clothing Repair Clinic in Cummington
Sunday, February 7th from 1-6pm

Repairing our clothing is a big part of reducing fabric waste!

According to the EPA Office of Solid Waste, Americans throw away more than 68 pounds of clothing and textiles per person per year, representing about 4% of the municipal solid waste – and this figure is rapidly growing!

The Bagshare Project is hosting their very first Clothing Repair Clinic to help offset this percentage of waste, and help local families reclaim and revitalize their wardrobe.

On Sunday, February 7th from 1-6pm, join others and bring yours or your kids pants that need hemming or patching, clothes missing buttons, complex repairs you could use some help with – and mend and socialize! Held at the Village Congregational Church on Main St. in Cummington, MA, this will be the first of a 3 month series of clothing repair clinics in the heart of the hilltowns! (The Old Creamery Chocolate tasting starts at 6:30pm so you can do a dual event!)

Bring your sewing machine if you have one and any items specific to your repair. Otherwise, fabric, thread, sewing machines and supplies will be provided. If your plan is to replace a zipper please email Barbara first.  To RSVP, call Leni at 634-5591 or send her an email. Call or email either one of these ladies, especially if you can help in a teaching capacity.

Read the rest of this entry »

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