The Haberdashery + A Lovely Poem

When I was moving away from home for a new job, my mom packed an old takeaway food container with some spools of thread, needles, and a good pair of scissors. A sewing kit wasn’t even on my radar of things I’d need, but when she handed this makeshift one to me, I wanted to hug her and cry. In all my selfish thoughts of moving to a new city, making money, and being an independent woman finally, I hadn’t spent any time thinking about how much I’d miss the quiet little things she did for me without even asking.

All these years later, I still have that kit. I wish I could explain the magic I feel when I find the perfect weird button, or that exact color matching thread I am looking for to fix whatever it is that I am fixing. I am convinced that it is bewitched with some mom-wizardry.

My mother is an excellent seamstress. It’s just something her generation learned to do I think. She used to make clothes for me and my sister when we were young. Even today she works as an alteration lady, and often shares with me hand written notes that her clients give her for having done such a great job on a wedding dress or a prom dress.

If that wasn’t lucky enough, I married and gained a mom-in-law who is an even better seamstress. Between the two of them, I haven’t had to worry too much about mending clothes because they are always happy to help when they visit.

During the lockdown though, I noticed that my pile of clothes that need their attention was growing substantially. So this past weekend, I took out my sewing kit and found a few things that I felt I could handle on my own. A broken belt loop, an unraveling seam in Arjun’s PJs, and plenty of holey knees. The haberdashery had opened for business! ;)

I think that mending clothes often feels like such a fuss – especially if your sewing kit is not bewitched with the things you need. And also because fast fashion is cheap and encourages one to just purchase new things when the old ones break.

My mindset has changed a bit as I have gotten older. I like buying things that will last forever, even if they cost more money up front. Indulging in occasional fixes makes me feel independent and domestic at the same time!

This also reminds me of that time I met Amelia Freeman-Lynde of Freeman’s Creative in Durham. I was interviewing her for a magazine piece about her beautiful shop, when she told me that one of the classes she offers is teaching people how to fix clothes and make alterations. I think it is a great life skill and would highly encourage anyone interested to look into it once her shop reopens.

Arjun and Asha are also learning how to use a needle to sew their animal friends who might be falling apart because of too much love, or just to make some new toys.

Ending this post with a lovely poem I discovered called Mending by Hazel Hall.

MENDING by Hazel Hall

Here are old things:
Fraying edges,
Ravelling threads;
And here are scraps of new goods,
Needles and thread,
An expectant thimble,
A pair of silver-toothed scissors.
Thimble on a finger,
New thread through an eye;
Needle, do not linger,
Hurry as you ply.
If you ever would be through
Hurry, scurry, fly!
Here are patches,
Felled edges,
Darned threads,
Strengthening old utility,
Pending the coming of the new.
Yes, I have been mending …
But also,
I have been enacting
A little travesty on life.

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