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January 31, 2010 3:49 PM   Subscribe

On the 15th of every month, from noon to 6pm, ceramics artist Michael Swaine sets up a sewing machine in San Francisco's Tenderloin and repairs clothing for strangers. No charge. He's also been known to darn other peoples' socks in London. He has much of interest to say.

New York, by contrast, has only this guy
posted by IndigoJones (27 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
I darn my own socks. It's very gratifying.
posted by boo_radley at 3:54 PM on January 31, 2010


It is pretty sad and revealing that doing nice things for strangers or repairing clothing is news.
posted by DU at 4:07 PM on January 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


I thought I'd find this annoying, but now I've read the links I'm glad I was wrong.
posted by selton at 4:30 PM on January 31, 2010


I used to darn socks. I now use much stronger language.
posted by scottymac at 4:30 PM on January 31, 2010 [9 favorites]


This is rather beautiful.
posted by schwa at 4:32 PM on January 31, 2010


New York has the highest concentration of cobblers and tailors I have seen anywhere in America. There are storefronts everywhere. Instead of tossing off ill-informed snark, you should come visit sometime. It's nice.
posted by phooky at 5:03 PM on January 31, 2010


Ah! I learned how to mend socks from my grandmother. She had this wonderfully smooth wooden egg to slip inside the sock, to stretch the wool fabric before reweaving. That woman demanded perfection: no knots or bumps allowed to create blisters! (Nothing like a bop in the head with a sock covered wooden egg to make me solemnly promise myself to never again mend socks.)
posted by francesca too at 5:17 PM on January 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


thank you for this post, IndigoJones.

i was in Tenderloin National Forest last June. it was great, but i wish i could've met this guy while i was there.
posted by gursky at 5:19 PM on January 31, 2010


There are storefronts everywhere.

I think "front" is the key syllable here.
posted by Faze at 5:23 PM on January 31, 2010


There's a serious shortage of selfless people like this in the world.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 6:01 PM on January 31, 2010


New York has the highest concentration of cobblers and tailors I have seen anywhere in America. There are storefronts everywhere. Instead of tossing off ill-informed snark, you should come visit sometime. It's nice.

Why? Some of us wear shitty goodwill clothes that were originally shitty Wal-Martâ„¢ clothes made by indentured Bangladeshi children. For any damage beyond what i can mend myself it simply makes more sense to just get new clothes.

Once I can freakin' afford to live somewhere as glamorous as New Yawk, i might consider this proposal of yours.
posted by Throw away your common sense and get an afro! at 6:04 PM on January 31, 2010


I think "front" is the key syllable here.

Yeah, they're just a cover for tax-purposes by the nefarious young artist mafia to keep the feds from snooping around. ITS ALL A RACKET EVERYONE KNOWS CO-OPS ARE NOT GOOD BUSINESS MODEL.
posted by Throw away your common sense and get an afro! at 6:18 PM on January 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


For any damage beyond what i can mend myself it simply makes more sense to just get new clothes.

Why is this? Do you not like your clothes?
posted by kenko at 6:25 PM on January 31, 2010


authentically cobbled, or do I digress? That said, sewing is cool, and will always be low-rent. I just kinda wish he didn't identify as a "performance artist," but maybe, probably that's just me.
posted by emhutchinson at 6:47 PM on January 31, 2010


Why is this? Do you not like your clothes?

My clothes exist for the sole purpose of hiding the flab. Beyond that, I don't much care for them.

also, small penis
posted by Throw away your common sense and get an afro! at 8:05 PM on January 31, 2010


His machine is a White Rotary that must be a hundred years old.
posted by hortense at 8:37 PM on January 31, 2010


When your shirt cost less than the price of repair (not to mention the hassle of taking it to the tailor), it's hard to justify repairs.

On the other hand, I have only in the last year or so been outside of a cultural context in which having ragged clothes that are falling apart because you've been wearing them for years is valued and regarded as a good choice, so perhaps there are people paying to fix $2 t-shirts.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:00 PM on January 31, 2010


This is pretty inspiring, I have to say. Just lugging a sewing machine someplace once a month is pain in the ass. Good man.

As for everybody quibbling about whether something is worth repairing or not, this guy does it for FREE so that always makes a thing worth repairing, especially if you have no money, correct? This FPP is too good to get buried in pettiness.
posted by queensissy at 9:52 PM on January 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


And phooky, that's kind of a thin skin you're wearing to be living in New York, no? This post really had nothing to do with knocking NYC. IJ was making a joke. Ho!
posted by queensissy at 9:53 PM on January 31, 2010


Given that I barely trust the dealer to work on my car, I'm not so sure I'd be crazy about handing my clothes to a guy on the street. Of course we have like five sewing machines so I'm probably not the target audience here.

Next you're going to say that you people have never made your own shoes before.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 10:05 PM on January 31, 2010


Extremely cool.
posted by arnicae at 10:25 PM on January 31, 2010


I've run into this guy at a protest or street fair or something and unfortunately, I hadn't brought my mending.
posted by serazin at 10:33 PM on January 31, 2010


How neat, and a lovely story. Thanks for the links.
posted by vespertine at 11:25 PM on January 31, 2010


Does anyone have his mailing address?
posted by Cranberry at 11:54 PM on January 31, 2010


This is good. I know people who, while not exactly impoverished, may only have one or two "good" pieces of clothing that are suitable for situations such as job interviews. If the outfit gets torn or buttons fall off, they have to pay to get it fixed. Getting it done free may mean the difference between a meal with sides, and one more plain cup of instant noodles.
posted by Alnedra at 1:18 AM on February 1, 2010


New York has the highest concentration of cobblers and tailors I have seen anywhere in America. There are storefronts everywhere... It's nice.

It's also the only city on the planet with emergency brakes accessible to subway passengers.
posted by the cuban at 3:08 AM on February 1, 2010


Instead of tossing off ill-informed snark, you should come visit sometime. It's nice.

You talking to me? You talking to me? 'Cause the thing is, I'm from New York. I'm there a lot. But I don't know nobody does this stuff for free. Like the lady said, it was a joke. So, what? You can't take a joke?

I just kinda wish he didn't identify as a "performance artist".

Agreed. But I'm not sure that that part was his idea. He seems more self identified with the ceramics bit.

Does anyone have his mailing address?


I would imagine the California College of Arts would work.
posted by IndigoJones at 5:19 AM on February 1, 2010


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