Found in a Newfoundland field, these well-mended “tumgluttons” were used for hunting and fishing. Notice how three fingers are kept together for warmth, while the index finger and thumb are allowed to move freely. These mittens maintain heat better when wet, so fishermen dipped them in warm salt water with their hands still inside.

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What piece of clothing have you loved and worn so much that you had to mend it?

responded: Sep 21, 2011

Posted by Ryan Ledoux

Recommend this Response
I have few pieces of clothing that I’ve worn long enough, or that I love enough, to merit repair. When we’re young, if clothing wears out it’s often just replaced, and young kids grow too quickly to wear anything out anyways. But even as a kid, I had a pair of jeans that I had beat up so badly that I wore holes in the crotch and knees. Nowadays, I have one pair of go-to jeans that I’m working on wearing out. I’ve made a repair in one knee, on a wear-out in the bum, and sooner than later I’m going to have to make a whole bunch of smaller repairs just to keep them kicking. I really love the idea of wearing something until it’s been used up. Before the advent of consumer culture in the mid 20th century, people were more likely to make do with the little clothing they could afford. “Make do and mend” was the popular saying of the day during wartime and when rations were scarce, so clothes were handed down and repaired as much as possible before they became un-wearable. Afterwards, they were turned into rags, stuffing for pillows and duvets, or quilts. An experienced quilter can use even the tiniest scraps to create a quilt, an art now relegated to old ladies instead of being a part of every family. Farmers were even known to stuff their old work jeans between the walls of the barn as insulation! Now, old beat-up clothing garners no respect, yet people will pay exorbitant amounts of money for pieces that are pre-distressed. It takes the effort out of it: instant gratification. We’re stripping garments of their history and intrigue. What will future generations study of ours?

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