We are a mutual aid group in Portland, Oregon.
We mend clothes and other things for the community, and distribute mending kits, patches & zines to help people mend their own stuff, and also make and distribute other fabric-based things that are helpful to others.
We do our small part in the fight against the evils of capitalism to help people use what they already have and empower them to help themselves and others to mend, make, and remove the need to buy as much as possible!
about mending bloc
We formed in fall 2020 after seeing a street medic on twitter saying they'd ripped multiple pairs of jeans while running from cops in the streets of Portland. We realized we could put our sewing skills to use offering to mend things for the protest community.
After getting set up with twitter and instagram accounts and attending some protests with a little table, we learned of another need and we designed a sewing pattern for balaclavas. Anyone with a sewing machine can make one for themselves, or people can give us t-shirts and we will turn them into balaclavas for them or to donate out to anyone in need. (Here's a direct link to the pattern PDF.)
We began attending more mutual aid focused events, doing on-the-spot mends on clothes, sleeping bags, gloves, bags, etc, and taking items home to our machines. We also offer pronoun pins at events.
In 2021 we started expanding by printing patches, making patch-sewing kits with a How to Sew on a Patch mini-zine, and then making bigger mending kits with a bigger Do It Yourself Mending zine. Those links will go to twitter posts with all the zine page images (with alt) to view on your screen. Here are direct links to the printable patch sewing zine, and the printable mending zine, which you are welcome to print and distribute freely! And here's a pdf file of the mending zine as an ebook.
We now distribute mending kits to unhoused communities and attend community and mutual aid events with our table of patches and kits very regularly. We've recently (in late spring/summer 2021) begun hosting "Mend Together with Mending Bloc" events where we mend and also teach mending skills to the community.
Our most recent project is making cooling scarves for the people of Portland, after experiencing the recent extreme heat wave and focusing on how we can help when the next one hits. Learn more about those (including how to make them) here.
mending bloc's stuff
get involved with mending bloc
If you're in Portland:
If you like to sew/mend and are interested in becoming a mending bloc member, all we require is that we meet in person. Send a DM/email if you want and/or just come find us at an event and introduce yourself and we can add you to our signal group!
If you want to just learn some mending skills from us, find us at an event to pick up a mending kit, or come to a Mend Together with Mending Bloc event (see twitter/instagram to learn when they are happening) and we can give you one-on-one help! (Also, see the last page of our mending zine for some resources that can get you started.)
If you are involved with an org or community that would like mending kits or zines donated, please reach out and we're happy to help!
If you would just like our help mending something for you, reach out via DM or email and/or come find us at an event and we'll gladly take your item and mend it for you!
If you're outside of Portland:
It would be amazing if you started your own mending bloc in your city or town! Please feel free to print out our zines to give away. There is an active mending bloc in SLC, and a group in Bellingham, WA which does mending services. If you start one please let us know and we'll post about you!
We are strictly mutual aid with very little material cost so we do not take donations. Our patches are printed on reclaimed/donated/thrifted fabrics. If you'd like to donate fabric that would work for patches, or thread or needles for mending kits, we will gladly take those items! We don't collect money donations because we just don't need money to do what we do, but we highly encourage you to instead donate to other mutual aid groups/orgs/people who DO need money to do what they do (which is most of them!).
cooling scarf project
After the deadly heat wave of June 2021, we learned about these cooling scarves which can help keep people a bit cool for hours by keeping the neck wet, as water beads slowly release water.
We developed our own method of making them as easily as possible, both to whip up as many as we can to get them into the hands of people in our community, and to make it a doable project even for those with practically no sewing experience. All you need is a basic sewing machine!
We have instructions for anyone to make their own anywhere, with their own materials, and we also distribute kits locally (with fabric and water beads) to anyone with a sewing machine.
If you are local and would like a kit to sew some, reach out via DM or email or find us at our next event. (You can just take supplies to make them for anyone and distribute them yourself, or you can make them and give them back to us and we can handle distribution, your choice!)
Make the Scarves
The kind of water beads we've used for ours are AquaGems brand, bought in bulk on ebay (4lbs for $25 which should be enough for many hundreds of scarves); the same kind can be found on etsy in a smaller bulk quantity (1lb for $8 which will make A LOT of scarves) and probably lots of other places as well. If using a different brand of water beads, be sure to use our full instructions which include how to do a test to figure out the quantity of dry beads you need per scarf.
The only other material needed (besides a sewing machine and thread) is basic woven cotton fabric. Quilting cotton works great, or thrifted/old sheets as long as they are not too thin and/or worn out.
The very simplified instructions are:
Cut a strip of woven cotton fabric 4.5" x around 42" longFold it lengthwise with wrong side out and sew it together along the long edge with 1/4" seam allowance to make it a tube, then turn the tube right side outSew one line across the tube 8" from the centerFrom the other side, pour 1/4 tsp of dry water beads (see notes above about water beads) into the tubeSew another line across the tube 16" from the first line (8" from the center on the other side), trapping the water beads in this 16" center pocketMake the two ends into points by cutting diagonal lines, then turn the edges inSew along each diagonal edge then continue sewing (top-stitching) along the seamed edge to the bead pocket lineSoak in water until beads are filled with water (6+ hours)
For complete instructions, see the images below, or find the same images on twitter here or instagram here with complete alt text.
Click here for a printable file of the above instructions. Print out fit to page, then fold in half and in half again to make it into a booklet. Distribute to others freely!
If you are using a kit you got from us, or you are using the same kind of water beads as us, below is our kit version of the instructions, specific to the size of the fabric pieces included in our kits (fat quarter size). See twitter here or instagram here for complete alt text.
And below is a longer, more detailed video tutorial!
(Note that all these videos above and below are specific to the kind of water beads we use, so if you're using a different kind be sure to see the full instructions above!)
If you want to distribute kits in your area, you can download a PDF here with all of our kit materials and instructions for making kits.
contact mending bloc
Check our twitter page or our instagram stories (see our "upcoming" story highlight) to learn where we'll be next with our table of mending kits & patches.
Send us a direct message on either social media platform or email our protonmail (icons below) to inquire about mending services, or just come see us at an event to give us your items that need mending!