Do you know what this is? It’s a fabric patch. I’m using it to repair a butterfly net but it is made to repair holes in jeans or tears in shirts when you slip under a barbed-wire fence and catch your sleeve on one of the barbs because Rocky is chasing you with a big stick recently poked into dog poop. The patch is easy to use. You just cut out a piece a little bit bigger than what you are repairing and then iron it on.

I used to be covered in these things. When I was young, maybe four or five, my Mom used to make most of my clothes. I’m not positive but I think this was long before Americans saw the wisdom in paying Vietnamese nine-year-olds to do our work for a hundredth of the pay. My family wasn’t poor by any stretch but we had little extra money. So if Mom had three bucks she could go to Woolworths and buy me two shirts or she could hit the sale table at the fabric store and but three or four yards of fabric. From that she could get maybe three shirts and a pair of pajamas and new drapes for the bathroom. The only investment was of her skill and time.

So instead of tossing clothes, Mom fixed them with patches. Now we purchase clothes that are purposefully defaced to look like something in serious need of patches. It’s funny how these things work. I don’t know what my kids would say if I wanted to fix a school shirt with a patch. I’m pretty sure they would make their way secretly to the garbage. And I’m not sure at all that their Mom would be for it.

And why should we care about making clothes last? Fifty years after Mom paid real money for clothes, I can buy about one third of a cup of Starbucks for what I pay for a throw away tee-shirt at Walmart. And who wants to invest the time into learning a skill like dress making when you can have little kids doing it thousands of miles away virtually for free?


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