I’ve been on a bit of a repairing kick recently. Despite having a whole wardrobe of clothes I want to sew, I’ve refashioned a dress I wasn’t wearing any more and I’ve been thinking about how to repair other garments. The main reason for this and not sewing new things is that I have no money for new fabric right now. Not being able to buy new things tends to make us more creative, as I mentioned in a previous post, so I’m still enjoying what I’m doing and I’m currently obsessed with visible mending.
I wanted to do a quick overview of some of the things that have really interested me about visible mending.
Are you familiar with kintsugi? It is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with gold. More than that it’s the philosophy behind the practice that the repaired piece is more beautiful; that its visible history and flaws are adding to the piece rather than detracting from it.
How wonderful is that? I’ve seen the same philosophy being applied to mental health, which is such a positive way to look at things. This can definitely be applied to our clothing too. Shouldn’t we celebrate everything our clothes have been through with us and consider repairing them in a similar way?
I literally spent hours poring over photos of visible mending of clothing. I added plenty of photos onto a Pinterest board too:
Embroidery has been very popular this year as a way of decorating clothing and accessories, but it’s an amazing medium to use for visible mending too. There are so many beautiful examples of celebrating our clothes and their flaws, as you can see from the images I pinned.
My go at visible mending!
Feeling inspired, I wanted to give visible mending a go. I have a black jacket that I bought from H&M back in 2006; to be honest I’ve never really liked the style of it but I remember buying it because I was cold. Over the years I have actually worn it quite a lot, despite never being very keen on it. I guess it’s just always handy to have a black jacket that goes with pretty much everything.
A few weeks before this I’d already sewed a few embroidered patches onto it, just to kind of make it my own. I was hoping to finally start loving this decade-old jacket. Then I got a bit obsessed with embroidering onto it and was far too happy to notice that one of the cuffs had started to fray around the edge.
The result was this explosion of colour. Well, not the final result, as you can see, but I did continue the embroidery in the same way.
I think that finally, after over ten years, I actually do love this jacket. I haven’t yet embroidered the other cuff, but I will very soon. I’ve also been eyeing up the edges of the pockets as they’re looking a bit faded and tatty.
Whilst I admit that my visible repair is not as skilled and imaginative as some, I’m happy with the results. Plus it lengthens the life of my jacket whilst actually making me want to wear it.
If you are interested in clothing repairs, you should head over to and see what Worn Wear by Patagonia is all about. I love their philosophy of Better Than New. Each item has the condition listed under the heading scars tell the story. It kind of bring us back around full circle to kintsugi, doesn’t it?
I would love to see more sewists repairing their clothes and shouting about it. Visible mending, or super skillfull invisible repairs, let’s all extend the life of our clothes and #repairnotrecycle.