I’m a big fan of taking care of your belongings and making them last as long as you can, it is something that Jason and I try to live out every day. Jason’s computer is 14 years old, our TV is at least 10 years old, and we have a lot of vintage items found in thrift stores in our house that we use on a daily basis. When possible, buy used, and when not possible, buy quality so that it lasts.
In the past, however, I’ve found mending to be one of those chores I just couldn’t get excited about. Sure, I know how to sew, and fixing a hole in a pair of shorts only takes about 5 minutes, but I lacked the enthusiasm to actually make it happen. Recently, however, I’ve stumbled upon visible mending and I’m hooked! The idea is that when mending clothes, to make the mend be part of the garment. The mend is supposed to be seen! Instead of invisible ladder stitches and hidden patches, people who practice visible mending use bold fabrics and chunky threads in fun, geometric designs.
Last year my brand-new sweater got a hole in it, much to my annoyance. I added some chunky stitches to mend it, and it has become my favorite sweater. It has gone through so many washes and wears and is still going strong. Something that I would have maybe never worn again, or shoved in the “to mend” pile never to be seen again was given a new life.
I’ve been searching thrift stores for some holey jeans for a while now that I could perform a mending makeover. I finally found a pair while out thrifting with my mom. As I rifled through the racks and pulled up this pair, triumphant, my mom looked at me like I had lost my mind.
“These? You want these? They have holes in them!”
My poor mom was probably having flashbacks to my high school days when she desperately tried to convince me not to buy pants that already had holes in them! Sorry, mom, not much has changed. Except, perhaps, that I no longer want to wear jeans WITH holes. Rather, I want to spend my nights carefully stitching them back together.
In a happy moment, not only did they have holes (a requirement), but they fit! I mean, I’m not doing this for nothing, after all.
I spent some time brainstorming my mends, and decided create some patches from an old pair of jeans I’d held on to for quilting and other purposes. I measured the size of the holes and added at least 1/2″ to each side and cut out that size patch. I zig-zagged the edges so that they wouldn’t fray, and sprayed them liberally with starch to minimize stretch while sewing.
I positioned the patches behind the holes and glued them in place with an Elmer’s glue stick. I use these all the time in sewing, they’re great for holding fabric together because they wash out and don’t leave a residue!
I wasn’t sure how to mark my lines. My first thought was a hera marker, but the lines wouldn’t show through the material. I didn’t want to use chalk because I knew I would be working on these for a while, and chalk tends to smudge over time so lines become blurred. So, I settled on painter’s tape. I cut strips of painter’s tape and taped them down over the patch and hole in the configuration I needed to create my design.
A few nights of sewing, some patience, and I have newly mended jeans! I love these more than I thought I would, and I can’t wait to see how they evolve over time with more mends and stitches. I used perle cotton thread in size 12 and a milliner’s needle for the stitches on these jeans.
There’s definitely going to be more visible mending in my future. How about you? Will you try it?