Mending the mending

Recently the pile of mending on my mind reached a point where it became the weekend’s project. But–I realised that there was only one thing I was mending for the first time.  I’ve reached the mending on mending stage.  This knitting bag has been waiting for a few more stitches into the base–the fabric the base is made from has just worn through over time.  But I don’t want to let the bag go.  It was made by one dear friend and embroidered by another and it was a birthday gift from years back.  It’s a treasure.  This time I fully embraced the idea of stitching the outer and lining together because I think this bag is at a stage in life where more mending is inevitable and not too far away.

Then there was the raincoat.  This op-shop find has had years of living on my office door for emergency wear because it is shower proof and has a zip-out wool lining. It’s a high quality garment!  If I am caught by wind or rain on my way home, I can grab it and run for the bus. It had this sophisticated arrangement for hanging on a hook (and I do hang it on a hook) and it has been broken for quite a while.


This week I was caught by sudden wind and rain and wore it home.  The hanging arrangement is now stitched back with waxed linen thread.


And I did some mends to the wool lining.  Yes, visible mending it is. Check out the fringe on the wool liner!


My leafy linen bag, patched together from offcuts of my earliest eco-printing experiments on recycled linen shirts had worn through in several places again. Here it is  in use in 2014 and being mended in 2014.  The fading shows. Could I bear to let it go?  Not yet.  The new patches are all from one piece of dyed cloth that took up a lot of yellows.

Then there was the mighty flourbag shirt, which was mightily mended in 2015.  The patches on the inside fronts had not been stitched to the seams in every single place, and now there are holes right where I missed that rather crucial step in mending a garment that has been worn this much.  here are some of the holes and frayed parts…

And here are the mends seen from the inside and outside:

Sometimes when I mend people post asking why I bother.  Which is a decent question.  In a case like this raggedy shirt I think the only explanation can be that I love this shirt so much I don’t want to give it up.  Even though I wear it for gardening and such (let me be clear, I love having time in the garden).  the fact that I made it is part of it, but I make other things that I don’t love this way.  I love the feel of the calico and I have come to enjoy patching it up.  There are more places that have worn through where I am not going to bother at this stage–like where some layers of the collar have worn away but there are others still holding together.

And speaking of gardening, here are my gardening jeans.  Another case of thinking you have patched out to where there is some fabric with integrity and finding that a hole wears through just beyond the patch.  Never mind, just add on!  These jeans are comfortable for grubbing around in, and although I have another pair that are beyond use in polite company, they are made from poor quality denim that won’t bear a whole lot of mending.  They had a twin pair and I tried–but sometimes I can’t mend something back to wearable.  How do you decide when to mend your mending and when to let it go?


Filed under Sewing

9 responses to “Mending the mending

  1. Marg

    Mending, darning, untangling yarn disasters- should be the most frustrating and tedious chores, but deeply immersive and absorbing every time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I find mending and darning pleasurable or acceptable and absorbing is really the perfect word! It is getting started that is the hard part. Untangling yarn. Oh dear. I wish I could make peace with that, and I can see I eventually could!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Rhonda Bradley

    Great mending / darning / boro happening , thanks for sharing. A few years ago I saw a great exhibition of Japanese boro in the Victoria and Albert museum London , your mending of the garden trousers reminds me of the thick padded fire fighters vests made from multiple layers of used clothing stitched on top of each other. The concept of seeing beauty in imperfection ( wabi sabi ) is certainly exemplified in layered mending.
    X R

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks, Rhonda! I would love to see an exhibition like that. I saw one in Melbourne with many older textiles where the sheer ingenuity of human beings was so vivid… the fibres used to create clothing were amazing, the sheer hard work involved in hand making all clothing always has me in awe, and there was a rain cape that drew all its waterproof capacities from a waxed paper layer. How privileged I am.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I find the mending on the shirts strangely beautiful… interesting how the smooth topography of the original shirt material has been changed into Lilliputian hills and valleys by the smocking of tiny stitches and shrinkage of the fabric over many years. Very tactile and so lovely.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Rhonda Bradley

    We saw some amazing water proof cloaks in the Douro valley Portugal last week. They were made of straw stitched together then layered like a thatch roof. The cloak was then tied on with hand made string , truly a thing of beauty and the water ran off it similar to the way rain runs off a thatch roof.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I don’t really feel like something’s mine until I’ve mended it at least once, and I’ll keep on mending it until I physically can’t anymore. That’s usually when another mend would make something mechanically difficult or uncomfortable to wear (like a seam getting too bulky, or a section of a collar too stiff).

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s a lovely perspective, thriftomancer. That would be the limit of my mending too–but there are certainly some things I don’t love enough to mend, or where the whole garment or item wears through and I have to concede defeat no matter how much I love it!


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