Mending – Do You or Don’t You?

Mending - Do You or Don't You? | Grainline Studio
Mending - Do You or Don't You? | Grainline Studio
Mending - Do You or Don't You? | Grainline Studio
Mending - Do You or Don't You? | Grainline Studio

So I know we all sew, that’s why we’re here, but how do you all feel about mending? Personally I find it a bit soul crushing and I’m not sure why. I make garments from nothing all the time, surely I should be able to mend something in no time! Instead things that need to be mended, usually my husband Jon’s things, sit in a pile forever until he asks for the 37 millionth time about when I think they’ll be done.

He’s not demanding either, so that’s not the case. He takes his jeans to be mended at our local dry cleaner and always asks if I can fix the garment or if he should take it in. I end up saying yes most of the time because in his mind there’s nothing I can’t fix which is a great feeling. He literally thinks I’m just doing magic tricks all the time with sewing and knitting which is pretty cool. I mean it is sort of magical right?! We take a piece of fabric or a scrap of yarn and turn it into an awesome garment!

Mending - Do You or Don't You? | Grainline Studio
Mending - Do You or Don't You? | Grainline Studio
Mending - Do You or Don't You? | Grainline Studio
Mending - Do You or Don't You? | Grainline Studio

I think I don’t like mending because it goes against my perfectionist nature. I’ll never really be able to get something back to how it was before hand, especially something like this plaid shirt I mended for Jon. In this case I decided to go the visible mending route, which is a hard one for me! I love looking at the visible mending Instagram hashtag but doing something like that just isn’t in my nature.

It seems like I’m always mending Jon’s clothes rather than my own, he’s much harder on them, but also has less to rotate. He also wears store bought clothing more than I do since I don’t really sew for him, so that probably has something to do with it as well. Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve worn through a garment in about 2 years now.

Mending - Do You or Don't You? | Grainline Studio

Is there a middle ground between visible and invisible mending that doesn’t just look like a giant mess? I think that’s sort of where I’m at. I’d love to know what your feelings on mending are. Do you mend? Visibly, invisibly, or somewhere in between?

Mending - Do You or Don't You? | Grainline StudioMending - Do You or Don't You? | Grainline Studio

24 replies on “Mending – Do You or Don’t You?

  • sewbuttonsblog

    I do lots of quick and easy mending, seams and such. For tears or wearing in the fabric of the garment, it used to be only done if the item was something I love or that I can’t replace easily. Lately I try to repair and continue to use if it still has plenty of life in it. If I decide to donate it, I will do a repair.

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  • Cheryl

    I used to hate mending, but once I learned about Japanese Boro, I don’t mind at all – if I can make it work for the garment. I’ve had a favorite gray cashmere sweatshirt for years, and it finally got a few scattered moth holes. I wore it, holes and all, for a while, but then chose a piece of silk dupioni remnant as well as an old plaid silk challis scarf to make some patches. Voila, I love the results – Boro style!

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  • Paula

    I often dread mending until I sit down to do it, then find it easier and faster than I had anticipated. I end up wondering why I ever let it all sit, waiting for my time, for so long. But then I don’t mend for a while and cycle starts all over. I do force myself to do it, despite the feeling of dread, because I spend too much time and/or money on my clothes to not.

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  • Diane

    I ditto everything you said about mending! I am always mending my husband’s clothing. I do try to save the hand mending for our quiet evening time together. The one exception is replacing broken zippers. Grrr! I have satisfaction once completed but the process is aggravating.

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  • Caitlyn

    Thank you for your refreshing honesty. While I don’t mind doing minor, invisible repairs like picking up a dropped hem or closing up a small hole in a knit sweater, I also struggle to mend things that will require a visible fix. I like the look of a whole garment—the uninterrupted print, the perfectly matched fabric and notions, the unbroken surface. All those careful choices, made by me or someone else, feel utterly undone by rips and holes. I don’t doubt that my feelings are heavily influenced by a culture that values novelty over longevity and aspires to the wealth that enables one to discard worn things in favor of new ones. But it’s also hard to come to grips with wear, tear, and visible mending if the sartorial style you gravitate toward is crisp, simple, minimal, or “classic.” Favoring subtle details and visible mending seem hopelessly at odds. If a garment I like can’t be repaired invisibly, I find I’m more likely to cut it up to use for something else, or recycle it, than to try to mend it, since I know I’m unlikely to reach for the mended garment in my closet.

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  • Linda

    I’ve always hated mending so I don’t mend but I might now that I know there are methods to use that end up looking good. I’m going to check out visible mending techniques and Japanese Boro. However, my general philosophy on mending is one my daughter passed on to me: Asking a seamstress to mend is like asking Michelangelo to paint your garage. I guess it depends on the garment. My husband just asked me to put a new zipper in a fifteen-year-old pair of hiking pants. I told him to get new pants.

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  • Colleen

    I am all for mending – darning, patches, turning shirt collars, whatever. I like the randomness and uniqueness it adds to a garment, as well as making a statement of sorts about caring for your clothes and what you have been through with them. On woollens I prefer to go invisible if that’s manageable, less fussy about socks, but for other garments I’m happy to go visible. Silk always adds a bit of panache. But I totally understand the delaying tactics – definitely a job for winter.

    PS I love the mend on your husband’s shirt. Bet he likes if too.

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  • Miriana

    I force myself to tackle 2 items of mending / alterations after each garment I make. The pile of things seems to replenish itself pretty well though.

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  • Stephanie Mascis

    I love mending. I have a closet of clothes I made over decades, and I like the whole cycle of life they have. Mends begin as little proactive reinforcements to retain that perfect first wear look. They turn into visible mends to keep beloved items in the rotation but at a diffferent level of wear (house vs office for example). At the end of their lives, they result in taking the item apart to be made into other things. Sometimes those are patches for other items, or pocket bags for new pants, or simply rags for around the house. I get a lot of action out of worn out jeans, for one example. I am a thrift shopper, and an upcycler, but mostly I will sew anything.

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  • Kristina

    My mom taught me how to rewear holes in socks. I finally found a mending wool in assorted colors for my pricey winter wool socks. It is a pleasant task. A bit of weaving and worth it given the price of good wool socks. Catch them when they are thinning or just a small hole for easier repairs t

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  • Chris Griffin

    Ill mend my own mistakes and my husband’s pants. Mostly for the reasons you stated! He has a smaller stash and wears them out. The knees on all have his pants have visible and, in my eyes, extremely ugly patches. However, he’s happy and we didn’t have to buy more pants. I’m tempted to start doing sashiko on his knees so at least it looks nicer…

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  • Lynn

    I rarely mend but I do sometimes if it’s a quick and simple fix. I try to make mending invisible but visible might be a good idea, depending on the garment, if you can make it look like a fashion feature.

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  • katrynarae

    There are some things, like tights that pop holes in the toes, or holes in the knees of my favourite jeans, that I don’t mind mending because it’s easier than replacing them, and usually you can’t really tell if done right (or at least is hidden while wearing shoes in the case of tights), but more sewing intensive things like replacing zippers, alterations and the like are like slogging through mud for me. Do not enjoy.
    And if it’s something like a big hole that is in a noticeable place and needs visible mending…I probably won’t. Patchwork, and sashiko are gorgeous, but NOT my style and so even if beautifully mended, I probably wouldn’t wear it anyway.

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  • Loganstitches

    I’ve taken to mending more and more. By the end of school last year all of my son’s jeans had decorative embroidered patches mending the knees. I go through spurts when I mend small piles of things, then I’ll leave things for months. Sometimes just thinking about how to best go about it, sometimes just avoiding. My one definite exception is socks for my husband. I’ll never mend them.

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  • Amanda Farquharson

    I love mending, especially if I made the item in the first place. I just like knowing I loved and wore it so much, and even though visible mending items usually only get worn at home, I love wearing them. I also love mending my daughters clothes because I often embroider little patches on them and then she loves “the pants with the bee!” Best. She also believes I can fix anything, which makes me happy and I hope she grows up fixing stuff too.

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  • ebmozo

    I also had a huge ignored pile of my husband’s clothes that he gave me for mending. I ignored it until he asked me to teach him how to thread a needle so he could do it himself!! That got me mending.

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  • Mel

    I never really mended until this year, but I had to learn because a lot of the clothes we get here are fast fashion rubbish that don’t last even when bought at supposedly high end stores. We simply can’t keep up financially with the cost literally replacing most of our clothes every three months because everything comes apart.Not to mention we are also worried about the enviromental impact of constant buying and discarding. So now I mend, reuse and make as much as possible.

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  • Julia

    The item that needs repair most often in our family is trousers. They tend to develop thin patches and tears in an area where it cannot be passed off as stylish (think bicycle saddles) 😉
    If the fabric is only thinning, I will iron patches of fabric to the inside with double-fusible interfacing (actually all of it melts, so I’m not sure whether it can be called interfacing).
    If there is a tear, I will whip out the powerful weapon that is my Bernina 1001 and sew over it with a bow stitch (put there only for repairs, as far as I know), keeping whatever fibers of original fabric there are to better hide the repair patch on the inside.
    If fabric is torn out of a placket, I have found it helpful to reinforce the edge of the torn-out fabric with a bit of ribbon (on the wrong side) before reinserting it into the placket seam.
    On a shirt of my Dad’s I cut off the badly worn cuffs and turned it into a short-sleeve (that was two years back and he’s still wearing it, yeah).
    I figure mending is the sensible thing to do if the repair is easy and the rest of the garment is still holding up well. Also, if I wear mended garments around the house or for dusty work or whatever, the still-mostly-new stuff will be spared and live longer 🙂

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  • sarah acheson

    I like the Japanese traditions of sashiko and Kintsukuroi (not sewing) where the repair is celebrated and adds value and worth. It’s beautiful to take the time and care of something you use or for someone you care for.

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  • Elisabeth

    I love mending! It involves both creativity and problem-solving, I guess that’s why. I prefer invisible mending, “secretly” strengthening a garment gives me a great kick! I do like pretty visible mends, but I’m just not as good at those.

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  • SKP

    Weighing in late… yes, there is a middle ground. I have been working towards a subtle form of visible mending. Wish I could show pictures. Keeping the color contrast to a minimum is the most important thing. Sometimes that means sacrificing part of the garment to get a “graft” to use for the patch.

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