Sewing Circle: Visible Mending

There has been sewing! I discovered the concept of visible mending - thank you pinterest. The old Japanese technique of mending cotton kimonos - boro, with patches, and sewing them on with a running stitch in various patterns - sashiko, has inspired me no end. Old Japanese kimonos have been preserved that have been patched and then patched on top of patches.

Beau le Boro ! /  Boro Kimono. / Yamagata Prefecture. / Japon. / Japan. / c…

This gave me the happy thought that if I take up patching my clothes I will never have to buy clothes ever again. Huzzah! I started with a pair of pyjamas which were in the scrap bag due to holes. I patched, then stitched over the top with running stitches. I tell you this, patches make your pyjamas warmer.

The Girl is staying with us this week. She needed a project, so took to my mending basket. She mended this shirt for me with a patch behind, and sashiko stitching. I love it!

Then she started on the next shirt, which tore under the arm. It is patched, and partly sashiko-stitched at this point.I love this as well - I especially like how the stitches get closer together as the blue colour gets deeper on the ombre patch (which is another old shirt which we decided to sacrifice for patches. It is a light cotton, but looks like denim. Perfect for patching the plaid shirts)

The Girl had the sewing machine out for another project, and whipped up these dishcloths for me out of The Boy's old quilt cover. As my dishcloths are mostly on the way out, this was a lovely surprise!

 I love the idea of making old things new again, and I am really enjoying the notion that mending does not have to be invisible - it can be a way to celebrate thrift and creativity, can be joyful and fun, and furthermore, can be done by hand while listening to Agatha Christie audiobooks..


Monique said…
I need a sewing girl in my place! The Indian Kantha quilts use the running stitch from old saris too. Such a lovely idea!
Mary H said…
These look great, so much visual interest. I'm a fan of visible mending, too, inspired by this woman -
simplelife said…
Snap. I'm on the visible mending band wagon too. I love it.
I borrowed Mending Matters from the library, it's all about mending, visible mending, why and how.
It's a very calming practice too.
Cheers Kate
Anonymous said…
Visible mending is a wonderful thing, isn't it? I never did master the invisible sort, and this technique is a much more creative way to extend the life of old favourite clothes. I first tried it with a pair of my husband's old denim work shorts (which began life as jeans), and even he was pretty pleased with the results. Doesn't that old kimono look amazing?

Linda in NZ

Linda in UK said…
Great idea, I’ll have to try it! Come across sashiko and Kantha stitching through my Patchwork and Quilting hobby but never seen it as visible patching. Works of art, really. How lovely to have a daughter who comes to visit and mends and creates new dishcloths for you. Yo7 have done a great job training her!
Treaders said…
I do patchwork, but I'm not very good at it - not meticulous enough! But you know what, patchwork was never meant to be "perfect" was it (well that's my story and I'm sticking to it), and it was never really meant to use new fabric. My friend made the most beautiful quilt out of pieces of material from her, her sister and her mom's old clothes. Just beautiful!
Jo said…
Monique, I just looked up Kantha quilts - yes, just the same. I have seen them, but didn't know what they were called. I think the difference to sashiko is that that sashiko stitching has a lot of fancy variations - but always just using a straight running stitch in different directions.
My sewing girl going home soon:( Perhaps we should start a sewing circle of our own.. the wonderful thing about mending by hand is you can chat at the same time:):)

Mary, ooh, thanks for this. I have a collection of Jude's work on a pinterest board, but didn't know its source. Now I do! I love her pictures with fabric, esp the cats. So much expression!

Jo said…
Kate, I borrowed that exact book from the library too! I like its very clear instructions. Mending is calming, but I tend to procrastinate about it because I would rather read. You cannot read and mend. Hence the audiobooks!

Linda, I am also practising on Paul's old work clothes! And yes, that kimono is patches on patches. They would have been handed down through the generations as they were expensive and time consuming to make or buy. The exact opposite to today's fast fashion culture..

Linda Who Quilts, I think that's one of the reasons I really enjoy the aesthetics of visible mending - it looks like mini quilting on your clothes. Irresistible! Btw, I did not train The Girl in sewing - she learnt handsewing from her days at Steiner school, and she made me show here how to use the sewing machine, and off she went, teaching herself. Autodidact!

Anna, I completely agree - my favourite quilts are made from old clothes, and generally sewn a bit crooked! A true make do with what you have, and the skills you have philosophy. Your friend's quilt sounds lovely, with all those memories sewn in. The Girl has just finished a similar one that I'll post soon:)

Anonymous said…
I so enjoy visible mending, specially breathing new life into old things. To that effect, in an effort to not buy any new clothes, I cut the sleeves of several long sleeved blouses. I felt so damn accomplished, you'd a thought I'd accomplished world peace. :)
Be well.
Anonymous said…
What a lovely idea! I've never seen visible mending before, but it is very artistic. The nearest I've managed was darning holes in jumpers, then making the darn into a woolly butterfly or heart. But I will definitely have a go at the visible patching. Live and learn!
Jo said…
Patricia, "breathing life into new things" I love that way of putting it, absolutely! I am pretty sure world peace would come about a lot quicker if everyone calmed down, had naps and did a little sewing..

Anon, darning hearts and butterflies onto jumpers is definitely visible mending. Sounds utterly charming:)
Anonymous said…
Jo, I love the way you think! You always make me laugh. Thank you.
GretchenJoanna said…
I didn't know the term "visible mending," but I've been doing it for decades, because of starting in the 70's ;-) ... sometimes on my own clothes that weren't even worn out, but had a little stain or hole to cover up (with embroidery or appliqué) ... often on the children's jeans or overalls, putting flowered patches on the knees.

The most dramatic story of this was when while lighting Christmas candles on a sideboard I was wearing my new Prairie Dress made from a Folkwear pattern. One of the full sleeves caught on fire and in seconds a hole appeared. I had extra fabric, which I sewed on in a big oval patch, with decorative stitching. All that sort of "broke in" the dress and made it seem to me more authentic somehow. Ha!

I have a favorite gardening shirt in this recent era that I keep patching and darning, and when I read your post I was prompted to think that maybe I could take it out of the scrap bag and get more serious about my patchwork. Then I remembered that the whole thing (linen) has become threadbare... I am actually saving it to make a pattern for future shirts I might sew myself. But if my sewing room doesn't materialize soon, I might have to make that future shirt right on top of the old shirt!
Jo said…
Gretchen Joanna, I love your story about how your beautiful dress became more authentic and meaningful once it had been patched. It triggered a memory for me of my mum patching the knee of a pair of my brown corduroy pants circa 1979 with a large orange flower cut out of some floral fabric. I loved those orange flower pants!
Your shirt sewn onto a shirt sounds exactly like the plan I have for my future clothes. Would love to see photos when that project comes to fruition!
L said…
Such a ingenious technique for mending, I had forgotten this way of clever artful mending, it’s truly beautiful, such a lovely post,, thank you for sharing, I’m glad I found your blog today!
Jo said…
Laurie, welcome! I am loving looking at different ways to make my clothes work long after they might normally be thrown into the rag bag.
Nick Thomas said…
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