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My Mohinders: Anne Graham • Worn Wear Technician + Sewing Machine Expert

by Kristen Morabito |

Last summer we joined a stop on Patagonia's Worn Wear Tour, and shared about our newly-launched Shoe Re-Soling Program.

We are big fans of Worn Wear, so were thrilled to connect with Anne Graham: expert Worn Wear repair technician, who zig-zags the country in the Worn Wear Trailer. Anne has fixed (and made) clothing for decades, and has an epically beautiful vintage sewing machine collection.

She shared with us about her creative path and why she loves garment repair. Thank you, Anne!

 

What sparked your love for sewing—fabrics? A parent or grandparent? A creative desire to make garments, in certain shapes? 

The interest was all mine—my mother did not care for sewing or crafts.  She did, however, not care if I used her machine, so I was free to experiment. That is a great gift to give as a parent. If we don’t share an interest with our child, another thing we can do is simply not stop them!  I lived near a store that sold cheap fabrics, a “five and dime”—I looked at pattern books and fabric there, and when I was about 9 when I got to making my own things using patterns as instruction and my teacher. I always liked making funky stuff!

“...I was free to experiment. That is a great gift to give as a parent. If we don’t share an interest with our child, another thing we can do is simply not stop them!”


What’s the most outlandish garment you’ve ever sewn from scratch? The most challenging garment you’ve ever made? 

The most outlandish garment I have ever made was a costume. It was a King Neptune costume for my husband. Oh man, it was something with fake seaweed and a trident to hold.  My mermaid costume was so tame in comparison. There is no joy like making a really fun costume. 

“There is no joy like making a really fun costume ... I always liked making funky stuff!"

My most difficult sewing project was a replica 1860s dress for a living history program. I did the whole thing in a traditional manner: it consisted of a hat with silk flowers, two petticoats, chemise, drawers, a boned corset, a hoop shirt and the dress itself. Each step was a history lesson for me as a seamstress!

 photo by Mikaela Hamilton

 

What’s the most rewarding repair you’ve done on the Worn Wear tour? 

I have had no shortage of challenging and rewarding projects since joining Patagonia and their Worn Wear program. Worn Wear is a part of the company built on the idea that the act of repairing our gear and garments is an important way to reduce our impact on the environment. 

Our team travels all around and demonstrates fixes, and we do repairs to keep peoples’ garments in use. 

Sometimes people just need a little help, like zipper parts. Sometimes people just need to see these skills in real life to know it is possible. Sometimes people need a little inspiration, and that is where I can help!

One repair stands out. It was a jacket, sent in bad shape; the sender included a note, that the jacket  belonged to her husband who had since passed away. She enjoyed the comfort of wearing it. It was given to me, and as I did this work, I tried to send along my good feelings and support for the jacket’s owner with each stitch. I too had been a widow, and knew exactly what she needed this jacket for. I thought, “Got this sister!” She would never know.

"as I did this work, I tried to send along my good feelings and support for the jacket’s owner with each stitch ... I thought, “Got this sister!” 

Craziest repair story (for example, someone who damaged something in a strange way) on the Worn Wear tour? 

I must say that any rock climbers will likely win the award for this, as they are so incredibly destructive on their clothes and doing so in the most incredible places! Love them, and they work me hard.


What’s it like to sew with a foot pedal machine, vs. a mechanical pedal machine?

There is a very different feel to using a non electric foot treadled sewing machine as opposed to an electric one. Of course it’s different physically but for me, it is more than that. It is quiet, slow and uncomplicated. There are times that I just want to slow it all down. When I worked with fast paced industrial sewing machines all week, this was a change. It is a pleasure to use something that is just beautiful. It is a pleasure to use something that is just a bit meditative. Treadle sewing machines are all those things. 

They combine three of my interests: history, sewing, and industrial design. I enjoy being a part of a hundred-year chain of hands using this tool.

“It is a pleasure to use something that is just beautiful. It is a pleasure to use something that is just a bit meditative. Treadle sewing machines are all those things...I enjoy being a part of a hundred-year chain of hands using this tool.”

photo by Mikaela Hamilton

 

What is the best advice you have ever received?

I have been given a lot of advice over the years. The most important one came to me when recently widowed. It is such a traumatic experience but also one of great change. Mistakes and bad judgement are not uncommon. I was told by another widow: “Be gentle with yourself.” Forgive yourself the things you do wrong right now. 

photo by Mikaela Hamilton

What moves you?

Nothing moves me like creativity. People like me are everywhere, people who just have to make things. The raw materials for a potential project are always inspiring. It can be fabric, yarn, beads, paint or even fresh vegetables for a meal. Makers gotta make.

“The raw materials for a potential project are always inspiring. It can be fabric, yarn, beads, paint or even fresh vegetables for a meal. Makers gotta make.”

Where have you been wearing your Mohinders? Do you see yourself taking them on future travels? 

I have easily found a place in my everyday life for my Mohinders. They are a simple, beautiful shoe that suits many situations. They’re a bit more dressy than a sandal and comfortable for actual real-life walking, and solid enough to be worn for long periods of time, while looking good—a great combination. 

In my town of Los Osos, I have found that sand gets into the shoe through its open weave, but the good news in sand comes right out too!

I love the shoes. I was almost going to give up on breaking them in, but I trusted the information you gave about how to get them softer and it was exactly correct. 


“I have easily found a place in my everyday life for my Mohinders. They are a simple, beautiful shoe that suits many situations… In my town of Los Osos, I have found that sand gets into the shoe through its open weave, but the good news in sand comes right out too!”

 


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