#68: Visible Vs Invisible Mending

Check Your Thread
Check Your Thread
#68: Visible Vs Invisible Mending

This episode is a fun exploration into the qualities of, and differences between, visible and invisible mending. What are their strengths and when are they likely to be victorious? 

Taking a deeper look into these approaches to mending can give us a clearer idea of how we want to tackle each repair job we are presented with. Which one will you deploy for your next mending project?

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Basic materials mending:

  • Strong thread suitable for hand sewing to stitch up holes, rips and tears, and for stitching on patches. 
  • If you’re likely to try darning, some darning yarn, or possibly leftover knitting yarn should also be in your mending materials stash. 
  • Fabric scraps for making patches. These can be harvested from old garments that have gone beyond wearability, and leftovers from previous sewing projects. It’s useful to have a mix of woven and knit fabrics and different thicknesses so you can create patches for different types of garments. 
  • A selection of buttons in a range of sizes. Although pretty much anything goes in terms of holes or shanks, colour, shape or texture, a replacement button will have to be the same size or a little smaller than the missing one. You can always close up a button hole a bit if the new button is a bit smaller, but you’re inviting a bit of a headache if you try to make the buttonhole bigger to accommodate a larger replacement button. 
  • Scraps of fusible interfacing. These are useful to strengthen a weakened area, particularly because it’ll give you more grace with your choice of fabric for patching, or your choice of reinforcing stitch. 
  • Eventually you may find it useful to also have a collection of Iron on patches, lengths of bias binding, and pieces of elastic in different widths, but you can gather those as the need arises.

Basic equipment for mending:

  • Hand sewing needles are a must. A little pack of different sizes to match with different thickness of fabric will make your life easier. 
  • Scissors that cut fabric and snips to cut thread.
  • A tape measure or other measuring tool. These can help you figure out how big to cut a patch or what length and width bias binding you might need.
  • Some kind of fabric marking tool such as a water or heat erasable pen or a chalk pencil. 
  • A seam ripper AKA stitch ripper or quick unpick. 
  • Pins and safety pins to keep what you’re working on in place. 
  • An iron will also be handy to apply the fusible interfacing and prepare neat looking patches. 
  • Certain visible mends might be quicker or longer lasting if a sewing machine is used. 

Mending inspiration and knowledge:


  • Mending Matters by Katrina Rodabaugh which is all about subtle, visible patching and decorative Sashiko stitching. 
  • Modern Mending by previous-guest Erin Lewis-Fitzgerald is a wonderful primer on all sorts of mending techniques and encourages creativity at every step. 

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