Visible mending is the concept of showcasing a repair to an item of clothing rather than attempting to conceal it.
Where the idea came from
When we were researching the idea of slow fashion, the concept of upcycling and mending existing clothing were clearly a big part of reducing the impact of the fast fashion industry on our environment. Simply put, the more we wear our clothes and the fewer new clothes we need, the better it is for the environment!
As a regular mender I was fascinated by the concept of visible mending. All of my mending attempts in the past centred around trying to return the item to as new looking a state as possible rather than embracing the change to the garment and featuring the change as part of the story of the item.
My husband provides me many opportunities to perfect my mending so I found a well-loved (read: nearing the end of it’s life!) item of clothing and decided to see if I could turn it into something wearable again.
I was a bit overwhelmed by where to start as I have always tried to conceal my mending. How do you go about making something that is a functional repair but also nice to look at?
Several resources I found useful were:
1) Introduction to visible mending
2) How to mend a tear around a pocket
3) How to mend with patches
How to start
Choose your garment to repair
For my first visible mending project, I’ve chosen my husband’s very well loved work-around-the-house hoodie.
Choose your patch material
We had some t-shirts that were about to become rags so I found one that seemed to have a complimentary colour with a bit of pattern that I thought might make an interesting patch.
Cut your patch to size
I cut out a patch that was larger than the area that required repair and slowly, by trial and error, cut it down to size.
Choose your edging
I noticed in the examples linked above that the edges of the patches were tucked under to prevent fraying. In this case, I think that the t-shirt material I’m using will curl over rather than fray in the wash and I’m happy with that look, so just going to go with a raw edge!
I’ve done some embroidery and cross-stitching in the past so grabbed some cotton embroidery floss and started by sewing around the outer edge of the patch with a running stitch.
A running stitch is basically just threading a needle and weaving the thread through the fabric in evenly spaced stitiches, which can be seen in this YouTube video.
Creating the pattern
I started by filling in the patch with straight lines of running stitch. I was very interested to see how this approach would affect the structure of the weak base fabric being patched — and it really seems to give support to an area that might be thin or torn, as you can see in the picture of the inside of the sleeve below. I’ve completed one patch (just have to tidy up the loose threads!) and took a comparison picture below. I think it’s much better but my husband isn’t yet convinced!
Have you ever tried visible mending? Would you wear clothing with obvious repairs?