Adventures With Visible Mending

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.

Vintage embroidery floss
Vintage embroidery floss from The Swagman’s Daughter.

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!

Getting Started

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.

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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.

 

 

Torn Jeans

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.

“Ah, there you are, human. Why aren’t you in the kitchen feeding me?” – Eddie.

 

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.

 

 

More on how I made these napkins can be found in this post.

 

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.

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

 

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13 Replies to “Adventures With Visible Mending”

  1. I enjoyed your post. I ove doing simple embroidery stitches, especially on pillowcases. I hope you do get hooked; it is relaxing and much easier than counted cross stitch where you have to be so careful! I’d suggest going to a dollar store at Halloween for a garland of skeletons to make your skeleton crew for your sailboat!

    1. Kathy, I love the skeleton idea. It is exactly what I need for the pirate ship! I might try my hand at a few other embroidery projects in the future. Maybe I will branch out with my stitches. I really enjoyed my little mending projects.

  2. Had not heard of ‘visual mending’. My mending has never been very neat. Now I know to just make the mending area more visable!

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