January 07, 2022

Visible Mending


by Kris Hurst

Putting away summer clothes and pulling out items for the winter season, I came across a few pieces that I’ve had for years, still love, but look a little worse for wear. That’s when I thought of one of the latest books on our shelves in Ignite, Mend! A Refashioning Manual and Manifesto by Kate Sekules. Ignite has a small collection of shelved books and magazines dedicated to art and maker topics. You can check out these books, just like any other books in the library. Sekules’ book is one of the newer books in our collection with a vibrant cover that caught my eye. Even though mending isn’t new, the visible mending movement has made it cool to repair damaged clothing and to make the handiwork noticeable.

Visible mending is simply decorative repair done by hand. You are meant to see the repair, adding another element or layer to the piece of clothing. It also keeps your clothing out of the trash. The author goes into detail about the fashion industry, the growing amount of clothing waste that our planet has accumulated, and ideas for giving your items a longer life. Historically, mending started out as a way to preserve handmade clothing that was passed down. With the onset of mass-produced clothing, mending implied poverty and was not something to call attention to. In the 1980’s, Comme des Garcons, made ‘damaged’ clothing fashionable, by selling ties that were pre-stained with coffee and sweaters with large holes as part of the design. Since then, mending has turned into its own fashion statement.

Much of mending involves just a needle and thread. It is a very portable art form that requires little set up. You do not need to be a craftsperson or artist. You can make tiny repairs, use patches, or turn your stitches into images or words. It is fun to look through the book to see all the unique ways people have chosen to mend.

I grabbed our embroidery kit and got to work on a sweater with a nice hole at the seam. Our kit includes hoops of various sizes, embroidery needles, and floss. I chose varying colors of thread and decided to do the repair using the satin stitch. This is an easy stitch that involves the filling of the hole with a stitch that goes round and round. Sekules’ book provides pictures and instructions on how to do this, as well as other stiches varying in difficulty.

I officially caught the mending bug, and started thinking about other things in need of repair. After 8 years of use, my computer bag was fraying a bit around the edges. It has a Paul Klee print on the front, so I looked at a Klee landscape painting for inspiration on the stitching.

My sister got into the spirit as well and embellished her backpack. The possibilities are endless.

Be sure to check out the shelves in Ignite for further inspiration. We are expanding our collection, so feel free to let us know about a book that has inspired you-it may end up in our collection!