Test Print Patches

I collect skills like trading cards – I have to try everything once, sometimes it sticks, sometimes it doesn’t.

I’ve been dabbling in block printing on fabric on and off for several years now, and last year I took on a massive, ambitious block that I’m still hopeful about – and I can’t wait to show the world. The issue? It warped, and while trying to get it right, I waste a lot of fabric on test prints. But parts of that fabric look really clear, vivid, and interesting, so I decided to save them for patches.

I for one, actually quite like the look of ripped jeans, that is, until I catch the hole on the license plate of my car and rip them all the way up the leg at the farmers market – oops. These suckers had to be reinforced, and I’m quite proud of how they came out in the end.


T-Shirt Mend

This shirt has been sitting in my mend pile for some time now. I found it in a thrift store shortly after I moved to Kentucky, it’s perfectly worn in, and so soft – a bit paint stained from repainting my house in it, but it adds to the character.

I think the most fun part of this was going ahead and picking thread that matched the paint stains – I’m glad to have my favorite shirt back in circulation again!


Preventative Mending – Covering tiny holes

I’ve not been able to post in a while! I’ve been busy working on The School of Needlework for Disobedient Women – which was a huge success.

When I went to get dressed today I found that one of my basic rayon dresses that I wear all the time had developed a cluster of tiny holes, giving me the opportunity to share this quick mend I do all the time.

I use my embroidery experience to cover each little hole with a star. It’s not very extravagant, but it doesn’t take long and it works really well with the stretchy rayon fabric. I’d say this is the most common mend that I do on my own clothing, it simply slows the growth of the holes down, allowing me to keep wearing my dress longer! These stretchy rayon garments aren’t great candidates for invisible mending anyways, so I went with a nice red thread, because if it’s gonna be visible, I’m gonna go all in.


Blue Cotton Shirt

So I have this really cool 100% cotton shirt that I love, I’m pretty sure I stole it from an ex (don’t we all have those clothes?) This tear is definitely a case of me ignoring a small tear and it growing and growing. It ripped next to the seam, and frayed a lot, I had quite a bit of missing weave, the more I looked at it, I realized if I didn’t want to have to darn a tear (and when you see the darning project I’ve been working on, you’ll see why I need a break from darning!) I was going to have to put a patch in the back.

First I trimmed away most of the frayed threads to give myself clean lines to work with, and I dug into my scrap pile for the right piece of fabric to patch it with, and fussed with it for a good 20 minutes before I finally gave in and got my lazy butt off the couch for some pins to hold it in place.

I backstitched all the way around in a rectangle, but I wasn’t confident in its strength, so I added a second. I saw the opportunity to make it artistic, so I put X’s all the way down, and couched them in the middle.

I like the blue-on-blue thread, it’s a visible mend, but not too visible. I was inspired to take this route when a friend mentioned that they were not sure how acceptable visible mending would be in her workplace attire, so I decided to experiment with a few things to see what I could come up with – allowing a mend to be on display, but delicately; just another step in making visible mending an accepted norm.

If I could do anything different, I’d put this in a medium sized embroidery hoop, I think it would have helped me keep my lines much straighter.


Gravy-Cat’s Favorite Pillow

When I decide whether I want to mend something, or repurpose it elsewhere, I first ask “how much do I love this item?”
Well, I don’t love this pillow case at all, in fact, years ago I even gave up patching the comforter it came with – but my kitty, Gravy, adores this pillowcase, so I just have to save it.

This is an ongoing mend, I have to add more patches almost every time I wash it, but it’s given me lots of practice with patching and blanket stitch (can you tell blanket stitch is my favorite way to affix patches?). I decided to use an embroidery hoop when patching this as it helped me see the weak spots in this old fabric, I could stretch it out and hold it up to the light.


Small Purple Bag Mend

I had really hoped my first official post would be full of lovely pictures after moving into my studio, but life has been crazy and I couldn’t put off my mending fever until getting in there!
Deciding to record my mending with photos has been eye-opening to me, I never realized how second-nature mending was to me until I had to remind myself that I couldn’t just pick something up and fix it without documenting the progress.

I love this purse, I’ve had it since 2013, but when the strap finally broke I tucked it away to deal with later. While cleaning I found it in the bottom of a box and I just had to bring it back to life. Below you’ll see several shots of the damage, lots of tears and fraying on the strap, which had broken off on one side completely and tons of little snags in the weave of the fabric, likely caused by this redundant velcro I ended up removing in favor of the decorative button it has.

First, I started by removing the broken part of the strap, to do this I opened the side-seam it was stitched into and pulled the old piece out. About a third of the way up the strap I also removed a large chunk that was so frayed it was barely hanging on. I could have replaced the entire strap, but it’s so soft and worn in that I wanted to keep it, and I definitely like a challenge, so I chose to experiment with patching it. I reenforced the side that was still hanging on, attached the cut segment back together, as well as proactively covered some new fraying with lovely blue patches, and then re-attached the newly clean-cut side back into the seam I’d previously opened. All-in-all I only lost about 3 inches from the strap in its repair

Next I decided to remove the velcro that caused all the snagging in the weave of the outer fabric, because it has a button, the velcro was redundant anyways. Hopefully this will minimize snags in the future. I’ll save the velcro for some other project.

Next, the mend that felt like it would never end – there were what felt like hundreds of little snags in the weave of the fabric. To hide and protect these, I used a small crochet hook to pull them between the decorative weave, and the lining of the bag.

All-in-all I’m really happy with the results, and I get to use my favorite bag again. I used a combination of visible (the strap) and invisible (the snags) mending. Here are the results,

Would I do anything differently? I think I could have saved about an hour on this repair by using a sewing machine on the patches, but cleaning my sewing table seemed like a far more daunting task than hand-stitching the mend.