Written by Tiffany Carlson
Photos by Sophia Desanto
In this age of fast fashion, tight budgets, and little time, it’s common to find an item or two in the closet with a hole or a stain, or it no longer fits quite right. Rather than buying something new, with just a little bit of TLC, the item can become like new again. Did you know the Libraries can help with that?
Annie Henly is a Fabrication Technician in the College of Design (CDes), and in her five years at the U of M, she has taught students how to use sewing machines, wood and metal fabrication tools, and other equipment in CDes. She mostly works in the Fab Labs in Rapson Hall, but recently started holding Mending Monday workshops in the Toaster in Walter Library and on Zoom, every Monday all semester from 2 to 4 p.m.
Projects at Mending Mondays have included things like fixing rips, zippers, and holes in jackets, sweatpants, and even backpacks! Sometimes folks come to hem their pants or shirt sleeves. Really, there’s no limit — if something needs fixing, bring it to Mending Mondays.
Igniting a passion for mending
Annie started mending several years ago, using knowledge she gained from her mother and her previous work with theater props. She started with basics, like mending holes in the armpits of shirts. “I wanted to keep my favorite items of clothing,” she says.
“When the pandemic started, I got interested in more technical skills and attended a couple of workshops where people could bring things in. We [workshop participants] could observe how they were mended.”
Beyond that, Annie has found that mending her own items creates a deeper appreciation for the pieces: “Every clothing item that I’ve mended, I value more. It makes me feel happy to wear it because I’ve taken care of it.”
Mending Mondays began as a virtual-only workshop during the pandemic. It was a way to offer workshops even while distanced, and provided students an opportunity to interact with these fabrication shops they didn’t have access to in-person.
The best part is, the mending workshops have broad application and can bring Annie into contact with other students from different fields, along with the students in the College of Design with whom she usually works.
Mending is universal, and can be useful for anyone. “I like teaching mending because it’s very useful for [the students’] lives,” Annie says. “They get excited about it.” Mending Mondays is a great way to get started with mending, and is very beginner-friendly.
The CDes and Libraries partnership
Annie and the staff in the CDes Fabrication Shops have an ongoing relationship with the Breakerspace – and recently they began to collaborate on an in-person workshop. Since its move to a larger space in the Toaster Innovation Hub, the Breakerspace filled a role as a community space on campus to host these events. “The Toaster has both the equipment and the access to a diverse group of University students,” says Kylie Foss, Operations Coordinator for the Toaster Innovation Hub. “It was the perfect fit.”
One of Annie’s favorite parts about Mending Mondays is the community that has been built since the workshops began. “One person from Texas always came, and then she moved up here [for school],” Annie shared. “That was really cool.” There are some regulars who attend every week, but new people drop in each week, as well, all with the common goal of mending something special to them.
“Hopefully the students will learn valuable skills when it comes to fixing their own textiles,” Kylie says. The informal workshops are open to everyone regardless of their experience level, so everyone is welcome. “Also, I personally hope that [Mending Mondays] teach awareness that it is easy to fix your own clothes rather than buying new ones!”
Interested students can participate in Mending Mondays either online or in-person, so the workshops can fit into anyone’s schedule. They are drop-in events, so there’s no need to register in advance — just show up and observe, or bring something of your own to mend.