Tag Archives: mend and make do

PS: More on mending

IMAG6483

Just as I felt the mending was done, I found two–two!  Holes had worn through in my pyjamas.  The fabric is so thin.  I decided a big patch and a lot of machine stitching was the solution this time.  Here it is on the inside (below).  The patch was just a scrap left over from cutting something else out and I decided it was fine as it was.  Making it a rectangle didn’t seem likely to improve it.

IMAG6477

Then I realised how many patches there already were. At least three–with some pictures from the inside and some from the outside below. Some of these look just like scribbling to me.

And that same day, I mended the stiffening rectangle at the bottom of a shopping bag… and my beloved handed over some ripped jeans for repair!

7 Comments

Filed under Sewing

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.

IMAG6437

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.

IMAG6438

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

IMAG6458

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?

9 Comments

Filed under Sewing

Of Aprons and Alchemy

Some years ago, I made an apron at an India Flint workshop.  It’s an ingenious design India has created which starts with a shirt with a collar and ends with a coverall with straps that cross over at the back.  This model also has some stitched-on panels creating a generous length at the back.

IMAG6331

I brought this garment home to dye it, and it would be fair to say that I never loved the outcome (friends who were consulted recently liked it more than I did).  And, it had some large holes for which I was responsible and which I had a lot of [bad] feelings about having created.  In short, this garment has been in the naughty corner (the place garments go to wait when I have been naughty) for some extended time.  But then, India put up an online course called The Alchemist’s Apron.   It is further supported by an online community of eager stitchers and dyers from all round the world on facebook.  I was lucky enough to be gifted an enrolment (Thank you India!)–and this turned out to be the trigger for getting the apron out of the naughty corner and into my hands again.

IMAG6322

First step, give it a wash and soften it up a bit (soy mordant no doubt was responsible for starching it a little).  Second step, mending. Mending is an evening occupation for me, thus the mood lighting… I have learned some things about mending since these holes appeared and decided to use several different strategies.

Some mends went over the hem (they were the most discouraging). These round-ish mends I especially like.

Once that was done, a second pass through the soy mordanting process, a wander around my neighbourhood by bicycle collecting leaves, and a bundle up with home made string (hems and seams left from cutting up and recycling clothing, in this case).

IMAG6359

I do love eucalyptus.

IMAG6361

The mends still stand out but I think that is OK, because #visiblemending!  I had chosen linen patching and cotton thread, which did rather guarantee they would stand out as the patches are mostly in the added border at the back of the apron which is cut from a recycled op shop raw silk pant suit a friend gave me.

IMAG6389

I like the new apron much more!

IMAG6385

And here is the back view… with the button placket still sporting buttons.  It’s a bit glorious now, I think. Do you have things waiting in the naughty corner?  How do they get there, and more importantly, what motivates you to get them out again?

IMAG6386

14 Comments

Filed under Natural dyeing, Sewing

A little light mending

In our house, one of us likes to hang onto things as long as possible and mend them as needed.  The other one is less enthusiastic about mending and naturally holds different opinions about which things are so special they should be mended rather than thrown away or repurposed.  This towel had lots of pile left on it but the selvedges had given way and frayed.  A lot. That was good enough for me!  I happened to have some binding left over from a previous such project and it was just the right amount for the job.  And now–no more frayed edges… and quite a pretty edge.

6 Comments

Filed under Sewing

Epic jeans mending

So my gardening jeans are many years old and have long since passed out of being suitable for  wear in polite company.  But my jeans do tend to wear through in places that I don’t really want to draw attention to. They have reached the point where I’m at risk of the fabric suddenly and dramatically parting company. But these are comfortable and fit for purpose otherwise. And won’t be easier to mend if they do rip dramatically.

IMAG4771

I kept thinking it might be time to let them go, but one night I decided against that.  What to do?  I made a paper pattern of the section I decided to try patching, so I could make the patch go all the way onto the seams. Then I cut patch pieces from the leg of another pair of jeans.

IMAG4772

I now hold my grandmother’s pinking shears, so I decided to pink the edges of the patching.

IMAG4775

I am a slacker so I pinned them on and then tacked by machine.  I know that hand stitched patching can be a lovely thing, but I have tried it in this part of a pair of jeans and the stitching wore off on the outside!  And, the less obtrusive the better.  This is not a situation for the visible mending programme, though I am in favour of it, in general.

IMAG4776

I did some early stitching to hold the patch in place and then stitched around the perimeter. This was followed by a lot of straight stitching up and back again in the most worn sections.

IMAG4773

And–the finished item actually looks slightly better than the original did, with lots of machine stitching in grey–the colour that was the best match to the fabric at this stage in its decay. These jeans will never return to their prime and don’t need to look glorious.  That’s probably part of why I was prepared to do an epic mend: I love a low stakes project.

IMAG4774

And now, we see how that wears! They will be back in the garden on the weekend for sure.

2 Comments

Filed under Sewing

Mending in July

2016-07-20 16.36.49

Because mending never stops… I have not restricted mine to May.  This is a little light darning on some underwear. I know, this is pansy dyed green thread… but this top already has indigo dyed darning (top right) and lots of other mends in all kinds of colours… so when the pansy green took my fancy I didn’t resist.

2016-07-21 16.20.06

This, on the other hand, is  a pair of jeans. I love seeing people’s glorious sashiko style mending on jeans, but these people have the physique and luck to wear their jeans through on the knees.  Not me. And, I think it would be an overstatement of my mending to call it sashiko as well as doing injustice to Japanese sewing traditions…

2016-07-21 17.24.18

Anyway… on the outside this is not too obtrusive.

2016-07-21 17.27.20

Hopefully good enough to hang together in gardening use, in any case!

2016-07-21 17.24.58

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Sewing

Mending in Adelaide this weekend…

This time, a little invitation to come and join me at a skill share where I will be teaching mending this weekend.  The event is up on facebook for all comers and runs 11-3 at the Migration Museum in the city.  There are lots of people involved including the famous (and fun) Costa Georgiadis from Gardening Australia.  I’ll be teaching mending from 1.45-2.45 and there will also be an informal knitting circle.  So much fun to be had.  Bring your mending and join me if you fancy it… goodness knows I have more skills in mending than being a grandma, but I am proud to be counted among the grandmas of the world even for a day…

Grandma skill share

6 Comments

Filed under Sewing

#MenditMay: Beyond darning

I have a dear friend whose entire family are facing some very tough times.  I’d been wondering what I could do that might bring some comfort to her, and then I had an idea.  I knew she had a cardigan that had belonged to someone she treasured, and that it was showing signs of long wear and lots of love.  So I offered to mend it for her.  She chose some yarn and on some quiet nights last week I set to work.

IMAG1584

Darning is always possible, but sometimes it seems barely adequate to the task, and the result is unlikely to be pleasing.  I have darned holes bigger than this, but I did cover some of them with leather elbow patches afterward!

IMAG1586

In the end I decided knitting in patches was a better idea.  I used needle and yarn to stabilise runaway live stitches.  Then I picked up some stitches, as you can see above.

IMAG1590

In a couple of spots I darned first and then picked up stitches.  See the woven section above the knitting needle?  Then it is really a process of knitting along and purling back, knitting two together at each side with a patch-stitch and a picked up strand from the garment.  There were some places where I added extra stitches or cast some off as I passed.

IMAG1588

One sleeve got several patches.  I tried different ways of casting off (binding off) and decided hand sewing the stitches down was the smoothest finish.

IMAG1602

There were smaller places where I did small darns or just trapped live stitches so that ladders could not spread further.

IMAG1592

On the cuffs, I considered a few options before settling on using some of the silk thread I dyed with Japanese indigo.  The grey was pretty much perfect here and I was able to use a fine enough needle to stop the stitches that are unravelling going further.

IMAG1594

There were four buttonholes but one button.  I couldn’t match it, so I sewed on four that have come off some other garment.

IMAG1598

Because a cardigan can be worn open, I concealed the ends of the stitching, with the initial knot and the tie off under the button rather than on the ‘wrong’ side, where I would happily tie them off on a shirt.

IMAG1599

And here it is.  Visibly mended but in a way I hope will mean this treasured cardigan will have an extended life providing comfort and warmth to my friend through times good and bad.

IMAG1601

I know my friend is surrounded by the love and care of many friends and her family too.  I’m lucky to be among them.

IMAG1600

 

18 Comments

Filed under Knitting, Sewing

#MenditMay Mending sewing machines and more

2016-05-14 15.28.54

This sewing machine was found in a shed.  It was unwanted by the new resident, so it came to me for cleaning, oiling and a look over.  You see it here with some of the upper casing removed to allow lubrication. It is now on its way to new users in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yangkunytjatjara lands. Meanwhile at our place, the threadbare flourbag shirt got some more patches added.  Here, the glue stitching I mentioned in my last post holding them in position.

2016-05-14 11.26.19

Here, the inside view.

2016-05-14 11.32.17

And here, the finished–for now–view of the back.

IMAG1604

Threads dyed with pansy, dyer’s chamomile and eucalyptus.

IMAG1605

I took up my friend’s jeans.  I feel like I have almost got top stitching denim sorted!

2016-05-14 17.41.39

Top tips: use a jeans needle.  If using top stitching thread, thread the needle by hand (should you have any other options, don’t use them); and leave ordinary thread in the bobbin. Use a 4mm stitch at least.

2016-05-12 11.27.07

Buttons replaced in position and stitched down so they don’t get away. I had to laugh when one button fell off at work the day of the second mending workshop!

2016-04-26 19.46.29

And another sewing machine cleaned, oiled, tested and ready to go to its new owners.  My grandmother lived in a country town where getting your machine serviced was not easy to arrange (cost may have been an issue too).  She was a fearless tender to her own machine and those of all her friends and told me many times that cleaning and oiling fixed most troubles.  So I am in her footsteps here, but in this case with a manual to guide me.  I took this machine apart and oiled all. the. places.  It really whirs along! It is now headed to asylum seekers who have been released from increasingly notorious conditions in detention on Nauru, who were tailors in their country of origin and will make great use of this well maintained machine.  It came to me because I was working on the mending kits and a lovely volunteer in an op shop asked if I could re-home a machine she knew needed to find a new home. I feel sure its new use would please the original owner very much.

8 Comments

Filed under Natural dyeing, Sewing

#MenditMay: Mending fine machine knit clothing

More and more contemporary clothing is knit in a very fine gauge by a machine. It is entirely possible to darn it by hand as you might a hand knit, but it is very difficult to match the gauge of the original fabric. I sometimes darn with embroidery thread, using a single strand.  Sometimes I darn with machine sewing thread. In each case, the garment might be made of one fibre while the thread is made of another–but at least the darn will be less obtrusive if that is your goal, and the hole will not continue to grow larger as the knit fabric unravels.

2016-05-12 20.39.30

I recently snagged this fine cotton cardigan on a protruding nail.  Ouch!  I decided against darning it and chose to patch my torn sleeve.  This is a method I have been using a lot for threadbare sections or places where holes are small (and sometimes where there is more than one).  It will also work for larger holes and you can choose a matching patch or a decorative contrast as you see fit.  I like to make a patch that is larger than the hole.  There will be no puckers around the damaged section and any stresses placed on the mend will be distributed more widely. So here is the hole and the patch I selected (cut from a t shirt in the rag bag at our local Sustainability Centre). This method will make the patched area stretch less (or become incapable of stretching), and this has to be considered when deciding whether to use it.

2016-05-12 20.41.08
I begin by tacking the patch into position on the inside of the garment, checking carefully each time I change direction to make sure that I am not pulling the patch so it cannot lie flat.  I use a running stitch, taking a tiny stitch on the outside and a longer stitch on the inside.  I learned this approach from Jude Hill, a textile artist who uses it to hold layers of quilt fabric together.  She calls it the glue stitch: and has a tutorial you might enjoy here.  I have just adapted it to mending. Jude Hill’s work revealed to me that I had not been able to escape learning running stitch as involving stitches which are all of equal length.  As soon as I had that thought (with her help), so many things opened up! It’s important to make sure all the edges of the tear are stabilised, and that the edges of the patch are stabilised too.  I tend to then create a network of stitching so that the patch is stitched on to the outer fabric all over its surface.

2016-05-12 21.17.37

Pretty soon, there is your hole, mended.  If all the cloth is still there, you can stitch the torn section down over the patch, as I have here, and have almost none of the patch fabric on show.  I am sure this is visible mending, but it isn’t mending that draws the eye.  Perfect for this garment.  Happy mending!

2 Comments

Filed under Sewing