The ideas behind the slow fashion movement are what brought me to sewing. I wanted to be a more thoughtful, conscious consumer of clothing. There are many different ways to be a conscientious shopper, and I’ll admit I was slow to warm to the idea of repairing and mending my clothes. It felt like just one more chore keeping me from doing the NEW sewing that I wanted to be doing, until I started seeing gorgeous images of visible mending pop up on the internet. Now I love the idea of investing time, energy, and love into a garment that I’m planning on keeping for the long haul. I often find my mended clothes end up being more interesting and beautiful to me than the original.
I patched up my favorite t-shirt with some knit scraps and a simple running stitch. I like it’s imperfections, and I love that as it gets more holes it’s only going to get more interesting.
But not all mending needs to be so scrappy. Lots of artists and makers are creating beautiful pieces from worn out garments. Here are some of my favorite inspiring visible menders to get you started.
Tom of Holland, the internet alter ego of Tom van Deijnen, is an artchitect of visible mending. The first time I heard of visible mending it was as part of Tom’s Visible Mending Programme - an operation he started to expose and celebrate mending techniques and the preservation of textiles. By highlighting instead of hiding repairs, he reminds us how resilient fabric can be. His website has some great info on historical mending and pictures of his own work.
Grid Junky, aka Jerome Sevilla, is a designer and textile artist who takes unloved, discarded clothing and transforms it into something totally fresh and stunning. He also takes beautiful shots of his meditative process that are just as inspiring as his finished products. Everything about his work is slow fashion at it’s most methodical, and his sashiko mending projects are no different - they’re simple, utilitarian, and so gorgeous.
Katarina Rodabaugh, is an artist and maker. She recently finished an art project/fast fashion hiatus during which she explored sewing, thrifting, and mending. Her mending projects are inclusive of lots of different techniques from traditional boro mending to dyeing stained fabrics with coffee. The exploratory approach of her Make Thrift Mend Project is so empowering. Every time I browse her blog, I come away ready to tackle the pile of mending slowly taking over my work table in new and creative ways.
And one more to grow on - Felicia Semple of The Craft Sessions uses her sewing machine in some of her visibile mending projects, which is a great, quick way to dip your toe into the world of garment repair.
If you’re interested in visible mending, come by the store. We have supplies that can get you well on your way to breathing new life into old favorites like sashiko floss and needles, interfacing, fabric dye, and fusible and decorative patches.