Consignment shop hosts workshop on mending clothes

Sarah Eames | The Daily Star 

Natalie Wrubleski, left, owner of the Champagne Hippie vintage clothing store in Cooperstown, looks on as Theresa Hensley, right, demonstrates a stitching technique for Cooperstown resident Elizabeth Kenison, center, during a clothing repair workshop at the store Wednesday.

An evening workshop offered visitors at a Cooperstown clothier a chance to reinvigorate their wardrobe.

The Champagne Hippie, a vintage clothing store on Cooperstown’s Main Street, hosted its first “repair workshop,” Wednesday June 19, inviting community members to bring their torn, misshapen or ill-fitting clothing for lessons in repair and repurpose.

Store owner Natalie Wrubleski said she originally envisioned the event as a means for community members to “get together and be creative with one another,” but realized the workshop could serve a greater purpose.

“Clothing is so cheap now and we don’t ask why,” she said. “We’ve become so detached from the process that now we only look at the sale.” Critical of what she described as the fashion industry’s legacy of pollution, resource-hoarding and inhumane labor practices, Wrubleski said shopping second-hand and “finding love for items neglected” is a simple and accessible solution.

“There’s so much clothing already in circulation. We should look towards that,” she said.

Wrubleski said she learned about the concept of a repair market at an industry conference a few years back and was taken with the idea, immediately picturing Cooperstown as an ideal setting for such an operation.

“In a small community like this, it’s slow living,” she said. “Why not take the time to learn how to sew?”

With the help of Theresa Hensley, her “sewing mentor and guru,” Wrubleski assisted attendees in mending holes, replacing buttons and adding trim to their clothing items.

A retired home economics teacher, Hensley now offers sewing lessons and operates her own alterations business, the proceeds of which are donated to Food for the Poor, a charitable organization that uses the funds to purchase sewing machines and give lessons to women in the Caribbean.

Cooperstown resident Elizabeth Kenison brought a pair of work pants to be shortened and a sweater in need of repair.

Pulling a spool from a repurposed plastic pretzel container, Wrubleski showed her how to measure the thread an arm’s length and cut it with her teeth.

“I think more people should learn to sew so they realize how much work goes into it,” Wrubleski said. “Maybe they could see past the price tag.”

Wrubleski encouraged attendees to consider clothing purchases as an investment — a remedy to what she described as the “consumer mindset.”

“We need to slow it down a little and ask ourselves ‘do we really need this? If we do, are we gonna love it?’” she said.

Wrubleski said she plans to host another repair workshop later in the summer. For more information about the program, visit the Champagne Hippie’s Facebook page.

Sarah Eames, staff writer, can be reached at seames@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7213. Follow her @DS_SarahE on Twitter.