December 31, 2015

Darn It! - Creative Mending

This post about creative mending is in honor of my personal New Year's tradition of mending everything I can during this week.  (I don't just do sewing mends, but I'm not going to tell you here about the new seat in my bentwood rocker and stuff like that.)  I like the symbolism of starting the year with a clean slate.  Or mostly clean slate.  I'm coming to terms with the reality that Life is never fully mended....

A short while ago, my blog was mentioned on a site called "Sew Mama Sew" - nice name, huh?  The article is called "All About Textile Repair: How to Repair with Stitching".  The theme is about making repairs that add something new - sparks of color, whimsy, a new design element, etc.

The photos in the article show loads of ways to use darning, sashiko stitching, and the like.  It looks really fun!  It makes me reminisce about the good ol' hippie days, when jeans were patched/embellished with colorful fabrics and embroidery.

This is a very different goal than what I usually hope for in my quilt and vintage clothing repair work.  I almost always focus either on restoration, bringing the piece back to its original appearance as closely as possible, or conservation, protecting and supporting the item in its current state.

But sometimes, using a repair to add something new is just the ticket.

The Sew Mama Sew article linked to the repair I did on a 1940s snowflake quilt, in which the patch over an iron scorch also became a label honoring the quilt's maker.  Part 1 tells the story of the quilt, which was inherited along with a diary with entries about how the quilt was made.  Part 2 details how my repair work was done.

Here are stories of other times I've made repairs that add something new to the piece.  I've done this more often with clothing than with quilts.  The following lovely vintage clothing items are available at my friend Julia's Etsy shop

This classy green silk dress had a spot on the bodice, with no way to make an invisible patch.  So I added a bias strip V in an antique gold fabric, echoing the seams on the bodice, and also added bias trim to the bow at the waist, so the necessary strip wouldn't look so out of place.

This perky little knit dress also had a stain, a brown blotch on the white neckline edging.  Since I'm so in love with buttons these days, I thought it'd be fun to use some of them.  I added enough to continue with the fun ambiance of the dress.

I added more beads to this wedding dress to cover holes in the netting at the front bodice.  It's a lovely dress, with the scalloped edge theme carried throughout.

This sweet dress was missing the zipper pull on the back.  Rather than replace the zipper (and because I didn't have a matching vintage zipper on hand), I made a new pull with an earring post, split rings, and pearls.

The jacket of this pink suit was missing all its buttons.  I chose some square white ones from my stash, and placed them on point to echo the triangle detailing of the pocket.

And finally, a couple of mends that don't add anything new, but that I'm really proud of.  This is a gorgeous wool cape.  The collar had a significant number of holes.  I found a nearly matching wool (in some lighting, very matching) and appliqued it on.  (Yes, to do so, I had to remove and reset the fringe dangles.)  It's a real beauty!

And to justify my current love of buying button collections at estate sales:  A tuxedo coat was missing just one button.  The photo shows one of the originals and the one I had in my stash.  You shoulda seen me grinning while I was sewing!

 And now I'm off to mend what I can of 2015 and get ready for new blogging adventures in 2016!


  1. I adore the zipper you made - actually everything you mended! So wish I had sewing skills, just doesn't come naturally to me.

    1. Thanks for the vote of confidence, Kate! I do enjoy making things whole again. ;-)