I’ve never been much for embroidery or mending. For a long time, I’d been putting off Chris’s request that I mend a torn glove that he likes to use. But then I came across a beautiful post by Better Homes on the basics of visible mending. Since we are still largely in stay-home-stay-safe mode here in my area, I had time to give it a try.
But first I would need embroidery floss. I found a fun collection of vintage embroidery floss at The Swagman’s Daughter on Etsy. I ordered six colors, and I love the cards they came on – so cute that I almost didn’t want to use the floss.
The shop owner included a note with the package saying that she had recently cleared out an old haberdashery warehouse, and now she has a huge variety of vintage sewing items. I will definitely be visiting that shop again!
I practiced on the glove (which I still haven’t finished) before tackling some other mending projects. And, if you are new to visible mending and want to try it, I highly recommend that you practice first before taking a needle to any precious antique textiles you might have.
What I love about visible mending is that it doesn’t attempt to be perfect – or to hide the fact that something was mended: On the contrary, it highlights it. The mending becomes a sort of folk art – and a way to make a piece look unique and loved.
Here are few of my simple mending projects.
Edwardian Tablecloth With Holes
Some time ago, I inherited a beautiful Edwardian-era tablecloth. The fabric is very fragile, and it has a few holes.
I loved that I could use fabric scraps from my sewing room to create patches.
The patch was secured to the underside of the tablecloth using a fabric glue stick. And then it was pinned.
Then came the fun part: Choosing the floss colors.
Using an embroidery needle, I created running stitches in a circular motion with a few straight lines added for interest.
For a larger hole near the edge, I used a semi-circle patch of fabric.
There is not as much of the fabric patch showing through as I had hoped, but I think the subtle look works well for this sweet old tablecloth.
I went on the prowl for other things to mend. Both knees were torn on my favorite pair of Levis, so they were fair game.
This time I wanted lots of color, so I used a bright batik fabric and blue and red floss.
I mostly used simple running stitches in vertical lines. I drew lines first with tailor’s chalk since I didn’t trust myself (and rightly so) to stitch a straight line freehand. And, although it’s better to do the stitching right-side-out, I discovered that it is impossible (at least for me) when working on knee tears because the inside of the fabric is so hard to reach.
So I worked on this project inside-out, and it turned out okay.
I do wish I’d used a different color fabric. The red looks a bit like I scraped my knees.
A Boring Sail Gets An Edge
I was enjoying visible mending so much that I began to look for other things to mend. But I couldn’t find anything.
However, the sail on the little toy boat that I’d built with my niece was very plain and boring.
So I made a new sail, and I added a few interesting scraps of fabric. For this project, I used crossed straight-stitches.
Our innocuous little sailboat is becoming a pirate ship. With a few more tweaks, we’ll be ready to christen it the “Skeleton Crew.”
My method here was not exactly as recommended in the Better Homes post on visible mending. I was just experimenting. But I do highly recommend reading the post (and watching the accompanying video) if you are interested in learning some simple techniques.
Rustic Americana Napkins
I found a couple of fabric scraps (one from a bandana) that I thought had a fun “old Americana” look when combined.
With a few simple running stitches, they became soft and informal cocktail napkins.
It’s A Gateway Craft
I have been warned that visible mending is a gateway craft. It can lead to doing things like intricate embroidery. But I really don’t see myself going down that path. I’m happy with my basic running stitches and crossed straight-stitches.
And that’s the beauty of it: Visible mending is as simple or as complex as you want to make it.
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