When people find out that I sew, they often remark that it is a very useful skill to have. In turn, I like to ask how they do their mending. Some of these non-sewing people pay to have it done by someone else, others do manage their own, and some simply admit that they don’t mend – at all. Mending is generally considered a boring chore, when it’s considered at all, but I feel like it’s Important. It’s Important, because the simple act of taking care of things we already have is one of those quiet little ways we get to give a two-finger salute to fast fashion. It’s Important, because it lightens our tread a little. It’s Important, because we give value to the work of our hands, and the hands of others. All that being established, best intentions and philosophical enthusiasm, my mending skills are, frankly, a bit shit. I used to just go over holes with a clumsy zig zag stitch, and demote the garment in question from work to weekend. So the trend for visible mending caught my eye. Mending that actually looks like a design feature? Yes, please.
This is my first attempt at Sashiko style visible mending. One side has a patch underneath to stabilise a large thin area with a previous mend, which was then sewn on with all these running stitches. I used light blue embroidery floss, halved to 3 strands. Then over a large hole, I decided to use a patch on the outside, with perpendicular running stitches making the + motif. On the other side, it’s just one patch on the outside with one direction of stitches. This time, I decided to use raw-edged non-stretch denim so it would have that obvious scruffy charm, but you could also put the patch on the inside, or finish the edges so it’s all a bit tidier. There are some beautiful, elaborate Sashiko stitches out there, and these are barely deserving of the term, but they do the job and I like the way they look. And this pair of jeans has suddenly become my favourite.
I also mended an old French market bag I’ve had for nearly a decade. I literally just folded over some scraps of Liberty print, and patched it on with (full-strength) embroidery floss and a darning needle. The mend on the bottom, which is a rather large hole, first has some strong denim, and then a larger patch of the Liberty on either side, so hopefully it’s strong enough to last me another 10 years. The good thing about mending a straw bag like this is that you don’t have to worry about regular laundering, so you really can use any old scraps you like. I tried not to pierce the straw too brutally in case it caused more splitting, so some of the stitches look wonky, but that is supposed to add to it’s charm as well.
So now they’re fixed up, and I think they look pretty special. I mean, you couldn’t buy this. It makes me think of this Howling Wolf lyric, something like “I done enjoyed things that Kings and Queens will never have, Kings and Queens can’t never get.” Sometimes we can make things, simple things, that feel like some exclusive luxury. Well, to me they do, at least.