I was kind of disappointed to see, a couple of weeks ago, that the NYTimes had discontinued its weekly Designer D.I.Y. series of articles on pathetic fashion craft projects. It was so much fun to make fun of them! But somebody must have picked up on my unhappiness, because here's a new pathetic advice feature in yesterday's Times. This one's in the Sunday Magazine instead of in the styles section, so some other editor is responsible.
The Magazine has been in the habit for a long time of providing a very short "Tip" every week. Usually the Tips are for how to do things that nobody actually wants or has occasion to do -- for instance, how to survive a tsunami, how to dig up a grave, how to grow hemp, how to herd reindeer, how to toss a pizza, how to wheat-paste posters, how to catch a swarm of bees. But this week it's right up our alley -- how to mend a pair of jeans.
|illustration by Radio for NYTimes Sunday Magazine|
Most of this little article is a paean to a guy who grew up in Japan, "a descendant of many generations of experts in a kind of decorative needlework called sashiko" and is now doing it for a living in Pennsylvania. How sashiko is so beautiful, how many patterns there are, how this guy has found meaning in his family heritage in sashiko and "has spent hundreds of hours covering jeans he owns in stitches patterns to make them stronger."
Then there's your actual how-to tip. There's a supply list: sashiko thread, a thimble and "a two-inch-long needle with a small eye." There's a direction: cut a denim patch bigger than the hole. Now "stitch all over the patch first to make the fabric stronger." Digression on how to transfer sashiko patterns to the fabric (washable pen or carbon tracing paper).
Finally, "place your patch on the inside of your jeans and sew the two together." Do not do this on a T-shirt. (No danger, since you told us in the headline that we're mending jeans.)
Hmmm. As one who has mended dozens if not hundreds of pairs of jeans and other pants, I take issue with this process instruction. First off, if I were going to mend a pair of jeans I would not bother doing sashiko all over the patch first. After it's on the pants, maybe.
Second, I would not obsess over precise transfer and execution of a sashiko pattern to my patch, unless I were a guy who wants to make a living off his ancestral craft and enroll you in a workshop to learn same.
Third, if I had put beautiful sashiko stitching onto a patch I would for sure sew it to the front of my jeans, not the inside where people would only see the little bit of it visible through the hole.
Fourth, if I didn't know how to mend jeans (otherwise why would I be reading an article entitled "How to Mend A Pair of Jeans") I would probably feel cheated when the directions told me "sew the two together" and left the hard part to me to figure out.
The takeaway: again, the New York Times proves that it loves the concept of people doing craft at home, but hasn't a clue as to how to guide them toward actually doing it.