Mend It May – Patching 3 Ways with Stitched Up

May 14, 2016

We’re delighted to be guest blogging as part of Mend and Make Do Life’s fabulous Mend It May. campaign. We can’t overemphasise our excitement about this initiative. Mending and upcycling is at the very core of what we do here at Stitched Up.

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Our central mission is to inspire people to adopt a more creative and sustainable way of dressing. To achieve this we run a variety of workshops and events which get people using sewing machines, mending clothes, upcycling unloved threads and joining in with clothes swaps. We run these events for individuals at our HQ in Chorlton, South Manchester and also travel around Greater Manchester providing workshops for groups and in schools and museums.

At our regular drop-in repairs workshops people can bring along a garment that needs repairing for help and guidance from our tutors. We also have an exciting announcement to make about an upcoming Repair Cafe in Manchester – details below.

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One of our favourite ever clothes repairs are holey jeans. Jeans have such potential as a truly slow fashion item. They look better the older they get, and patches and mends only add further to their character. Some forward-thinking denim brands even buy back their old jeans to sell on to customers that prefer the super-worn look.

So we’d like to share with you our three favourite ways to patch torn or ripped jeans.

All the following techniques begin in exactly the same way:

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1. Cut a scrap of denim slightly bigger than the hole in your jeans  (say 2cm bigger all round).

2. With jeans turned the right way out, place the scrap over or behind the hole – your choice!

3. Pin or tack the patch in place with big stitches to keep it secure. You can also fuse the patch on with iron-on wundaweb if you prefer, but we like to keep it low-fi with stitches and pins.

Sashiko 
The super simple but oh-so-effective repair technique that everyone’s talking about. This looks totally awesome. As a hand-sewn repair it takes an investment of time. But this does mean you can take it ANYWHERE – on the the train, in the park…

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How: Thread up a hand sewing needle (long and strong is good) with your chosen colour of thread. Much sashiko repair work is done in a thick white thread which contrasts beautifully with denim, especially dark denim. But it’s your call – choose something to blend in, or stand out. Then simply create parallel lines of large running stitches running across the jeans and patch until you’ve covered the whole thing with funky stitches. Remove your tacking stitches or pins and you’re done!

Quick-patching
Not an official name, but this has to be on of our all-time favourite techniques. It’s super fast and we just love the way it looks – nonchalant and practical, but also kinda edgy…!

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How: Simply stitch back and forth in a big zig zag across the hole using a straight or running stitch. Make sure your stitch goes right across the patch and off onto the jeans for a nice sturdy repair.

We use a sewing machine for speed and durability, but you could easily do it by hand too. If you’re using a machine, you may need to open up the leg seam to get enough access to the part you need to sew. If you do, open the outer seam, as the inner one has usually been sewn with a flat-felled seam – this takes longer to both unpick and re-stitch as it’s sewn twice.

Embroidery
We’re just loving the current renewed popularity of patched denim. The great thing about this technique is it can be as tricky or as easy as you like. Basically it consists of using brightly coloured embroidery floss to make a real feature of your denim repair. Before you freak out at the level of skill involved – there IS a cheats way! Simply buy some ready-made embroidered patched and iron them over the patch to fix in place! We used some really funky handmade badges by our friend’s awesome brand Parish Council on a jacket from our Repaired / Reworked collection.

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For those of you who prefer to DIY, there are tonnes of ways to interpret this technique – the only limit is your own mind!

How: Take some embroidery threads and stitch your own design onto the patch. This can be a detailed illustration (see Marie-Sophie Lockhart’s awesome Instagram @lockhartembroidery for inspiration) or can be some really straightforward sashiko-style stitches – see how we did this on items for our Repaired/Reworked collection.

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You can even incorporate scraps of contrasting fabric to add extra interest to your repair – see examples here by Rebecca Sower.

We hope this inspires you to embrace the character of mended jeans.

For anyone in Manchester who’d like a little help with mending their clothes, or other household items, we’ve just announced the launch of a Manchester Repair Cafe!

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For those who’ve never heard of Repair Cafe, it’s a regular event held worldwide, and run by volunteers, at which you can get help mending all sorts of things. Ours will be held at Stitched Up HQ in Chorlton and you’ll be able to find help fixing clothes, bikes, electronics, furniture and technology. The Repair Cafe will begin in July 2016, and run every month thereafter. If you’d like to receive updates on this project you can sign up to the mailing list here.

And of course if you’re a fixer, maker or tinkerer who would like to volunteer your skills then of course we’d love to hear from you too! Please contact us on hello@stitchedup.coop

Mend on menders!

Thankyou so much to the Stitched Up for this brilliant post, and huge congratulations on the upcoming inaugural Manchester Repair Cafe!

For more Mend It May marvellous-ness, come and join the Mend It May Facebook group.
And don’t forget you can show your support for mending by taking the Mend It May pledge!

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