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Visible Mending Lets You Customize Clothing As You Repair It

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If you take a stroll through any antique shop, you’re sure to come across some vintage tablecloths that have been patched by hand. This is a charming sign of the item’s long and happy life. These days, as we become more aware of sustainability, we’re returning to the idea of visible mending. We’re making it stand out with high-impact patches and stitches. And we’re not alone—there are currently more than 128,000 Instagram posts tagged

With the techniques here, you not only extend the usefulness of a piece but also give it a custom look entirely your own. Get our helpful visible mending tutorials for patching clothing, adding appliqués, and darning socks. Learning how to use visible mending requires just a few inexpensive materials and basic embroidery stitches. Inspired by the Japanese art of Sashiko mending with visible stitches, these bold ideas will help you repair your clothes and linens in a truly beautiful way.

Visible Mending Stitches

As you mend, don’t worry about every stitch being identical. Freestyling will result in a handmade effect.

Running Stitch

This stitch is so easy that it’s probably one of the first you learned as a child. To make it, simply poke a needle through the fabric from back to front and then down again about 1/4 inch away. Repeat this process in a straight (or straightish) line.

Crossed Straight-Stitch

Not to be confused with cross-stitch, this is a series of stitches that run horizontally and are covered by vertical stitches.

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Seed Stitch

This is a series of running stitches going in random directions rather than a straight line.

How To Patch Holes in Denim Jackets or Jeans

Supplies Needed

  • Item to mend
  • Fabric
  • Scissors
  • Fabric glue stick
  • Straight pins
  • Needle
  • Embroidery floss

Step 1: Prepare Patch

Start by cleaning up any messy strings around the hole using scissors. Cut a fabric patch that is ½-inch larger on all sides than the hole. Turn the jacket or jeans inside out and begin to extend decorative stitching beyond the patch. This will make it stand out more.

Step 2: Attach Patch

Start by threading a regular sewing needle with embroidery floss, knotting one end. Then, on the backside of the fabric, begin a series of horizontal running stitches, making a new stitch every ¼ inch. Make sure to overlap the hole by a few inches on each side. Repeat with a series of vertical running stitches until the visible threads create small plus signs. Finally, knot the thread when finished.

Step 3: Add Decorative Stitches

Thread a regular sewing needle with embroidery floss and knot at one end. Start on the backside of the fabric with a series of horizontal running stitches. Create a new stitch every ¼ inch. Overlap the hole by a few inches on each side. Repeat the process with a series of vertical running stitches so the visible threads create small plus signs. Knot thread when finished.

How to Applique Patch

Supplies Needed

  • Freezer Paper
  • Fabric
  • Scissors
  • Iron
  • Fabric glue stick
  • Needle
  • Thread
  • Tweezers

Step 1: Prepare Patch

To cover and reinforce holes in your fabric, try an appliqué method for a seamless appearance. Cut a circle of freezer paper ($5, Target) to fit the hole; glue the paper to the wrong side of patch fabric with a fabric glue stick. Cut out the fabric, leaving ¼-inch allowance around the freezer paper. Press the patch over the hole.

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To patch holes and reinforce them, try using an appliqué method for a seamless appearance. Iron a circle of freezer paper ($5, Target) onto the wrong side of the patch fabric, shiny side down; cut out the fabric, leaving a ¼-inch allowance around the freezer paper. Dab a fabric glue stick onto the freezer paper; press over the hole.

Step 2: Stitch Patch

Working around the circle, fold the fabric’s ¼-inch allowance under the paper and whipstitch the outer edge of the circle to what you are mending. (Try not to stitch through the paper.) When there’s ½-inch left unsewn, pull out the paper with tweezers. Sew up hole.

How to Darn a Sock

Supplies Needed

  • Wool or cotton socks
  • Cotton crochet thread, embroidery floss, or wool yarn
  • Needle
  • Darning egg or darning mushroom

Put a kick in old socks or sweaters by covering up holes with vibrant yarn. Visible mending darning is an easy-to-master technique; you can get through a pair of socks while watching a TV show.

Step 1: Sew Vertical Stitches

Trim the excess threads around the hole to prepare for mending. Place a wood darning egg, mushroom, or tennis ball inside the sock behind the hole to help keep its shape. Thread a needle with yarn, embroidery floss, or thread that matches the material of the sock – wool for wool socks and cotton for cotton socks. Sew rows of vertical running stitches back and forth over the hole and ½-inch beyond on all sides.

Step 2: Repeat Horizontally

Repeat the process horizontally, weaving the thread over and under the long stitches, until you’ve completely covered the hole. Weave in ends of yarn and trim.