If you sew, or knit, or otherwise craft, you know that requests for “favors” – mostly that start with “can you make…” or “can you fix…” – are not uncommon.
Every crafter responds differently, and my general rule of thumb is “no to makes. yes to mends.”
The flip side of this being, if someone asks mend something, or fix something. I’ll almost always say yes. Usually they’re not time consuming or complicated fixes, so I’m happy to.
The one general exception to my “yea sure I’ll fix it for you” response being jeans.
Will I hem your jeans? Sure. Will I fix a hole in your jeans? No.
Why? Because mending jeans is not so simple.
As a general rule of them, denim is an incredibly durable fabric. Of course some denim is more durable than others, and some is just downright delicate. But taken as a whole category of fabric, denim = durable.
That means that when your jeans get a rip in them due to age (by which I mean, you didn’t sit on a nail in a brand new pair of jeans), you need to fix the whole, as well as, reinforce a significant amount of the surrounding fabric.
If you’re ever patched a pair of jeans (or a flannel shirt for that matter), and had the patch, or stitching quickly rip away again, it’s because the stitching was sewn to weakened, or compromised fabric.
The pair of jeans I wanted to mend, had a (relatively) small rip in the crotch. It was, maybe, two inches long, and would have taken 5 minutes to whip stitch closed.
However. If I had mended these pants that way, the fix would have also lasted about 5 minutes.
Because, that small rip is indicative of weakened fabric in the whole surrounding area. The original fabric is very soft & thin, there are creases where it’s (almost) threadbare, and along the seams the fibers are beginning to wear away.
To create a mend that lasts, I needed to reinforce the fabric in the entire crotch area. So I used a patch of black cotton twill, and Sashiko inspired stitching to reinforce all of the weakened fabric.
Sashiko, is a traditional Japanese quilting technique, that uses rows of running stitches. Traditionally, it was used to reinforce fabric, prolong the life of garments, and stitch together patches of fabric into new clothes. It can be entirely utilitarian, or decorative. But either way because the stitching itself is so simple it’s incredibly quick to execute, and because it’s an all over quilting technique it creates exceptionally durable (and warm) fabric.
As with any mending, or fixing, or repair project, the trick is seamlessly blend the old and the new. In this case, blending the patch (which on the inside of the pants) and the worn fabric.
My first attempt went ok in the beginning, but as the project went on, I started getting some pretty epic rippling. Which translated to binding around the top of the leg. Which I was not about to live with.
So rather than leave it half assed, out came the scissors, and into the garbage that stitching went.
Take number two, went much more smoothly. (In multiple senses of the phrase.)
Rather than simply doing single rows of running stitch, I worked two perpendicular lines of running stitch to create crosses. I did this by first working lines of running stitch in one direction (being sure to off set my stitches), and then working a second set of lines of running stitch at a 90º angle to the first (being sure to cross the first set of stitches).
It’s not the prettiest, or the most even, stitching I’ve ever done. But my hope is that it’ll last for a good long while to come.
I’m not sure if a mending job can be considered “visible mending” if you can’t really see it while I’m wearing the pants, (and the stitching is black on black), but there has been something tremendously satisfying about combining my love of blackwork embroidery, with visible mending, with elongating the life of a pair of much loved pants.
- 1 pair of much loved Uniqlo bootcut black jeans (which they stopped selling ages upon ages ago) (these are also the pair that I based my self-made jeans on)
- 1 large scrap of black cotton twill fabric to use as the patch
- 1 skein of black 6-strand embroidery floss (I split the thread and used 3 strands)
- 1 embroidery needle
- some pins to hold everything in place