Happy Spring! Across the interwebs this month mending experts are showing off their skills and inspiring others to fix their clothes using the hashtag #mendmarch. Just as we get excited for new plant growth in the Spring, now's the perfect time to put some new life in your worn out clothes (or help your kids pants make it the last few weeks or months to shorts weather!) At special request from one of my followers on Instagram, I'm putting together a quick list of some great resources for those new to mending. And a little word to the wise, the old adage "a stitch in time saves nine" is actually quite true! It is much easier to repair something that is threadbare or has a tiny hole, than to repair a large gash! So get that mending pile started and dig in.
Sashiko and boro are the traditional Japanese arts of visible mending. This form of embroidery uses a thicker floss than Western embroidery thread and is extremely durable. Designs can range from the simple to the complex. It's a perfect way to mend your kids ripped jeans or other woven clothes by hand. It'll take a little longer than machine mending, but with a basic design it can be the perfect simple task for while you watch a movie. Here are some great resources for learning sashiko:
The mother-son team of Keiko and Atsushi Futatsuya share a ton of their knowledge on their website Upcycled Stitches and on their YouTube channel. Here's just one of their many videos highlighting sashiko techniques. They offer workshops and custom embroidery in New York and do live tutorials on Instagram. (And they’ve got their first English language livestream of sashiko technique happening Wednesday March 28, that’s tomorrow, at 1 pm ET on their Instagram and a whole video workshop coming soon!)
The Far Woods--a lovely social justice arts residence outside Portland, has a mending tutorial on Skillshare. These two sisters will take you through the basics of how to visibly mend a pair of pants. I've shared about their mending zine before, and it is perfect for beginners and can be purchased printed or as a PDF from their Etsy site . Follow #sashiko on Instagram. This hashtag features sashiko artists around the world, for design inspiration and live tutorials.
If you've got a sewing machine, one of the fastest ways to mend thread-bear clothes is with a technique called machine darning. Here you are essentially just using back and forth stitches on your machine to reinforce the fabric. Usually, you'd place a patch under the weak area. You can chose to use a thread in the same color as the fabric, or a contrasting one for more of a visible mend. To make it even stronger, you can rotate the fabric creating a star-burst shape with the new stitches. Here's an example of multiple repairs (machine darning and sashiko) I did to a favorite pair of shorts.
Outsourcing the work
Most tailors will do machine repairs for a minimal fee, and lots of dry cleaners have tailors in-house. Often for less than $10 they will greatly extend the life of your clothing (for kids clothes you may be looking at as little as $5). So if you've got no time or can't sew (yet!), find a good tailor and get their help extending the life of your, or your kid's, garment. If you are thinking of handing the clothes down to the next kid, a quality repair will really help it last. (Ps- both the Far Woods and sashi.co do custom repairs or embroidery if you want something a little fancier. )
What items do your kids tear through? Are there other mending guides that would help you? I've recently gotten into sock darning which feels wonderfully old-timey and has allowed me to hold on to my favorite socks a little longer. Want to know how to do that, too?