Tag Archives: make do and mend

Mending – a Radical Act of Value

Another Vlog post is up.

Josh (having listened to my rants on long journey’s far too often!) suggested that I talk about some of our values and philosophy behind our choices.

So I did…


Denim Jeans – Invisible Mending (Almost)

Following on from my experiments in patching here and EcoThrifty’s slow fashion challenge, I decided to tackle the 3 pairs of jeans with holes in the knees.  I knew I’d saved them for something 😉

I’m really pleased with the results and this is how I did it.

Tiny tiny stitches. As if made by mice.

I’d looked at a couple of different online tutorials and even bought the embroidery foot attachment to do it by sewing machine.  Then in a fit of enthusiasm (I can’t remember why) I decided to do it by hand.  This was a much slower process but gave much better results.

You will need:

Patching needs a patch.

Patching needs a patch.

Spare denim for patch

Thread in a similar coloured thread to the denim

Sharp needle

Small embroidery hoop


Choose your weapons!

Choose your weapons!

1. Pin the denim patch on the inside of the trousers with the right side of the patch facing the wrong side of the hole. You should be able to see the right side of the patching material through the hole.

2. Then stretch the denim over an embroidery hoop to keep the fabric taught and even throughout the mend.

You can just about see just under a half of the patch has been stitched on the left of the photo.

3. Sew vertical lines of small running stitches up and down the patch, securing it to the original denim with lots of small little stitches.  For material this thick running stitch works fine.  Just don’t pull the stitches so tight the material buckles. If you look very closely in the above photo you’ll just about be able to see my rows of stitching on the left hand side of the patch.

4. Once you have covered the whole of the patch with lines of closely spaced running stitch turn the jeans right side out.  Use more hand stitching to blend the edges of the hole and any bits of frayed fabric until it is hard to discern where the edges of the patch are.

If you don’t have any spare denim to make a patch then you could consider sewing up one of the back pockets of your jeans and cutting a patch out of the fabric in the back layer of the pocket which won’t be seen.

When I showed the jeans to Josh he couldn’t see the patch at all at first.  Success!

This mend took a lot of time and effort.  But it was worth it, partly because I got a real buzz out of doing such a great job (no false modesty here!)  Secondly because it is one of the small steps I’m taking against throw-away fashion.  If we mend our clothes they will last longer, then means we can afford to buy fair trade, organic cotton and more expensive clothes which will in turn last longer.  Not everyone can afford to buy more expensive clothes and every choice you make for yourself and your family is personal so this isn’t about judging anyone’s choices but my own.

But I can’t buy clothes which I know are made by people who don’t get paid a fair wage and have to work in dangerous conditions, use cotton grown using farming practices which are unsustainable.


First attempts at patching

Inspired by Make Do and Mend’s post about patching clothes in the Guardian I decided to practice on a pair hand me down trousers given to R.  They were a nice pair of blue corduroys but with a small rip on one of the knees and both knees were looking a bit threadbare due to the previous owner’s enthusiastic crawling.

A small but undeniable hole.

A small but undeniable hole.

I also thought that the decorative patching technique in the article would best suit children’s clothes.

Now R has a lot of trousers and whilst I had pulled these out for mending ages ago I never got round to fixing them because he didn’t really need them.  Then I read an article on another blog about the terrible condition of some clothes donated to charity.  I decided to fix them there and then because even if R barely wears them at least now I’d be happy to donate them to a charity shop in the future.

Because the knees on these trousers will always be subject to crawling wear I decided to make my patch out of a smaller circle of fleece and a larger circle of cotton fabric. I thought the extra cushioning would help with future wear and tear.

Patch pieces - wow that photo is blurry!

Patch pieces.

Before I started the patching process, I very quickly put a few stitches to roughly hold the torn bit of fabric together to make it more secure (even though no-one will ever see it… doubly so since I forgot to photograph that step!) Then I placed the circles wrong sides together and using a running stitch I tacked down the edges of the cotton fabric so that it enclosed the fleece.

A patch complete and ready for sewing to the trousers.

A patch complete and ready for sewing to the trousers.

Once I’d gone all the way round I pinned the patch over the worn place on the trousers with the right side of the cotton facing up.  Then I sewed around the patch using blanket stitch to make it look prettier. I used this tutorial on blanket stitch applique which was very easy to follow.



And finally I repeated it on the other knee.  Both knees were worn so it was worth it but I would probably patch both knees on another pair of trousers like this just to make it look more appealing.

It took about an hour in total – which might seem like a lot to time-poor parents.  But since I spent the evening relaxing in front of the TV it was easy to fit in.

The grand finale!

The grand finale!