I recently blogged about the importance of keeping clothing longer. But, this means learning how to do mending—invisible and visible mending styles abound. So where's a good place to start if you don't have experience with needle work?
Start mending clothing that others don't typically see—your night clothes!
No Judgement Please!
For me, starting to mend meant fixing pajama bottoms. I am continually bending down way too far in cotton pants and after a while ripping my bottoms along the rear seam. I used to make these pants into rags, but now I fix them with scraps I saved from sewing.
No sewing scraps to choose from? You can just as easily use an old t-shirt that has seen betters days or a swag tee that you never wear. Whatever material you choose to use to fix your pants (or tops), don't worry about matching colors or doing it perfectly. No one will see it (other than family and close friends). A safe way to start mending—no judgement!
Machine or No Machine?
When mending, it can be advantageous to use a sewing machine to make smaller and consistent stitching. But thread and a needle will also do the trick! I use both methods often and sometimes, depending upon the location of needed repair, a needle and thread is all that will work! So how can you hand-sew and keep a patch in place wash after wash?
If hand stitching, I always stitch over patching twice. I will go around my repair and then repeat stitching again. This helps reinforce the hand stitching and keeps it in place after machine washing. I often don't even worry about the color thread (as you can see in the image above). And I don't waste time trying to matching colors. I just want the material to be soft and the stitching to last. So how do I do this?
When mending, I always use a back stitch (or split back stitch) for sewing patches AND I repeat the stitching all around the patch to give more strength.
Why the back stitch? Because it is an easy and strong stitch. There are tons of YouTube videos about how to do it and everyone will have their own style of stitch length for specific garments. I tend to stitch a bit smaller than might be shown in a video for demonstration, but everyone can choose how much time they want to spend sewing and adjust their stitching appropriately. I also do the stitch in one step, keeping my needle in the front of the work. If you watch embroidery videos, they will likely show the stitching going from front to back.
Once you have hand stitching down you can use this talent to mend clothing that you do want people to see in the same way. But you'll likely choose the patch materials and thread more carefully and take a bit more time to make the stitching even. I also tend to apply patching to clothing I wear outside the home on the front of the hole hiding it. (The two images above show patching inside the garment.)
TIP: Did you know that many fabric stores will sell cotton fabric in small bundles in coordinating patterns/colors for quilting that you can purchase for patching?
Books and Websites to Help
I love the idea of visible mending; that's why I purchased these books
and follow the authors on Instagram. Both books present many styles of visible mending and help with what supplies you will need. Then, if you need more instruction, you can check out YouTube for a specific mending style or sign up for a local class. I wrote about my visible mending in previous blogs:
Want to invisible mend? Search 'invisible mend' and 'the garment name' you are working on for videos that can help.
You may need to watch 2-3 videos, at least, to figure out methods and what will work for the repair at hand.
I am so thankful to all the menders who share their skills online to help us all keep clothing longer!
If you find someone whose style you like, don't forget to check out their other videos and subscribe. It can make the next repair easier!
News Flash! Meeting at the Chesterfield Library September 21st - 11:00am-Noon
I will be leading a gathering at the Chesterfield, NH library on 9/21 and you're invited! We will learn to crochet and create the Peas in a Pod pattern. I blogged about making this cute simple crochet, and now I will help you get started!
Come with a 4mm crochet hook, some yarn (preferably local but any will do!) and a bit of stuffing (maybe from an old pillow you no longer use?). The pattern suggests plastic eyes. But I knotted black yarn instead to keep it all wool and safe for small children.
Note: You don't have to be a Chesterfield resident to join in the fun. Just send me a message using my Connect about Fiber at the bottom of this page to let me know you want to come!