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By Lizette Salmon, Coordinator, Repair Café Albury-Wodonga

I love my sewing machine. It was a birthday present 30 years ago and has been ever the faithful companion. In my twenties I taught myself to sew and made lots of my own clothing. A decade or so later, I discovered the joys of reupholstering, giving old chairs and sofas marvellous makeovers. These days my machine gets less of a work-out, but I still haul it out every month or so to repair or alter clothing. Tears and split seams, hems and holes in pockets, it’s an invaluable tool, and it never ceases to amaze me how many people don’t own one. I wonder how they manage, and assume they get by with needle and thread so they can at least sew on a button or hand-stitch a hem. Not necessarily so.

Erin ran a fix-it enterprise in inner-city Melbourne and told me about the young men who came in needing repairs to their jeans but had no idea how to thread a needle. They were so proud when they mastered this simple technique.

Rhonda, an author who spoke at Albury Library a few weeks ago, confessed she used to throw away clothing when buttons fell off because she didn’t know how to sew them back on. I was shocked.

But recently I realised I too have had a ‘blind spot’ in my sewing repertoire. I had no idea how to mend socks. Simply sewing the ends together has made for some pretty uncomfortable, lumpy toe situations. But now, thanks to the Repair Café Albury-Wodonga, I’ve discovered the darning mushroom, a piece of wood shaped like a mushroom and used to stretch and support material being darned. Jenny, one of the fabulous team of sewers, demonstrated one when darning my favourite hiking socks. They feel like new and so much better than the replacement socks which gave me blisters.

If you have clothing or other textiles that need repairing and would like to learn how to do so, come to the Repair Café at Wodonga Senior Citizens Centre on Saturday 30 April from 10am-1pm. You can also bring along broken furniture, bikes and battery-operated appliances, plus small garden tools in need of sharpening. For the first time we’re also offering basic guitar repairs. This free session includes home-made morning tea and is proudly supported by HalveWaste. It’s the last in our trial, so don’t miss out. For more information visit eco.redsally.com.