Mending is about the journey travelled, not reinstating the impossible perfection of the new.”

― Jessica Smulders-Cohen, TOAST

I’ve recently finished mending our bed quilt again. I began making this quilt in 1996 when I first discovered quilting in Southern California. I finished making it in 2002 a few years after I had moved to Scotland.

In 2017, the fabric at the top where we pull it up around our necks at night began to wear through from many, many nights of sleeping beneath it. At that time, I made some repairs using my sewing machine.

This year I noticed some tears in the fabric on the underside of the quilt. Since last summer I have been teaching, and discovering, slow stich so I decided to make the next round of repairs by hand.

I was inspired by Boro patchwork. Boro is derived from the Japanese boroboro, meaning something tattered or repaired. 

Traditional boro kimono | Image via Gerrie Congdon

Boro refers to the practice of reworking and repairing textiles (often clothes or bedding) through piecing, patching and stitching, in order to extend their use.  This accidental art form was born of necessity in Northern Japan. Peasants started making Boro repairs during the Edo period (1603-1868).

I cut and stitched together squares and triangles of fabric and turned their edges under with an iron. As I slowly stitched each piece over the damaged fabric, I reflected on how much I love Home and the comfort of my bedroom and the many thousands of hours that I have sheltered and cuddled beneath this quilt.

I have been on such a long jouney since 1996, both in my textile art making and in the making of my life. This quilt has been with me through moves to two different countries and seven different abodes.

Devon, 2006

Now when I lie beneath it I can feel the textured stitches from my recent mends. They remind me that nothing lasts, nothing is finished, nothing is perfect. As a person with tendencies toward impossible perfection, there is such comfort to be found in this concept.

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