Visible Mending – Make the Most of Imperfections

Do you ever have a favourite item of clothing that you fetch out of the wardrobe with a big smile across your face, only to have your world shattered when you notice a hole in the sleeve? This happens to me a lot. It is one of the perils of being a cat owner; they are the most wonderful little beings to have lounging around the house, subtly moulding your behaviour to their every whim, but are a sartorial nightmare!

Yet, even if you are not a cat lover (although I would really question why not?!), or perhaps your circumstances do not allow for a feline in your life, you will probably still be aware of this awful event. Earlier in the month I looked at how to mend various garments using lace patching techniques. But there are plenty of other methods.

I must admit that I had hoped to explore a few more under this month’s ‘make do and mend’ theme, however, I got somewhat distracted by the KonMari method and the promises of finally achieving a harmonious studio space that meets all my creative needs (read all about that here). But through the little I have done this month, I have been inspired to carry this trend on and be much less driven by a consumerist, disposable lifestyle. As such, this won’t be the last post in the ‘make do and mend’ vein.

The project that I will be discussing today, however, is linked to my post from last week about Sashiko stitching. The concept of using stitching to take a weathered garment and make the damage into something beautiful. Deciding that instead of discarding an object you will wear it’s history with pride and re-invent it into something other than the homogenised apparel of your peers.

For the demonstration of this particular mending, I have this jersey top. A lovely loose fitting garment in a fine monotone stripe. It is one of those wonderfully versatile wardrobe staples. However, as you can see from the photo, mine has had a run in with some sharp object that has left a series of mangled openings on the front.

Disaster, you may well think. But don’t be too hasty.

Taking inspiration from sashiko principles, I decided that mending this top could only be done satisfactorily if I made a feature of the mending rather than trying to conceal it. As such, I chose a contrasting colour cloth to patch the holes and got to work.

There are two approaches you could take here. Either, place your patch directly over the hole on the front of the garment and carefully use a series of running stitches, in whatever design you wish. This will make a feature of your chosen cloth patch.

Alternatively, you could place your patched piece underneath the holes in the garment so that a small flash of contrasting cloth shows through. With this method you could then make a feature of the stitches on the right-side of the garment by using a contrasting colour.

As you can see, I chose the latter option. This is something that anyone familiar with my work will note as a preference; that of a monotone palette with a flash of colour, usually red. I like to say that it is an aesthetic choice based in traditional works, such as Chinese and Japanese ink drawings, but I imagine there is also an adolescent love of Tim Burton coming through there as well. So here I have gone with a flash of red showing through the black and white top.

I have chosen to go with a concealed and obvious stitching techniques as well, here. For the majority of the stitching, that which predominantly holds the patched piece in place I used black thread and stitched in-line with the black stripes of the top. As an additional decorative extra, I then used a complementary red thread to add some visible stitches running across the initial black stitching. 

The great thing about these mending methods is that there are no rules. You can add and stitch in whatever fashion that you like to suit the peice that you are trying to mend. The results, however, leave you with a unique piece of clothing that will last for many more wears. And, if another hole appears, just add to it again. 

So don’t dispair when you find an imperfection in a garment. Look at how simple stitching and patching techniques can rectify the problem.


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