Mend It May – Visible Mending

You may have noticed throughout the course of Mend It May, that I am a huge fan of Visible Mending!
I’m not sure if there is an official definition of Visible Mending – I just Googled it to try and find one – but it’s bascially a mend that is visible, and there for all to see.

Traditionally, the expectation is that our mends should be invisible. That we didn’t really want people to know that we had had to mend our things. Almost as if it were shameful that had had to mend our things because it meant that we weren’t able to afford to replace them.
And I think that that expectation has put many of us even attempting to mend.

Thankfully this is no longer the case.
Mending is on the rise again, and instead of being ashamed that we haven’t replaced our broken things with something new, it is now something to be proud of!

Darner extraordinaire Tom of Holland runs the Visible Mending Programme on his blog, and I love this quote from him that I found in an interview with Kate Davies of Kate Davies Designs:

I like mending to be visible, as it’s a talking point which helps me explain to people why I feel it’s important to try to extend the life of a garment as long as possible, rather than throwing it out and buying yet another cheap piece of clothing that will disintegrate after a few washes. I see a beautiful darn as a badge of honour, to be worn with pride.

Now my darns may not be beautiful, but I still wear my mends as a badge of honour, and love it when they act as a stating point for a conversation around mending at the school gate.

There are lots of visible mending techniques, for clothes, and other ‘stuff’.
Here are some of my favourites:

Instead of attempting a subtle invisible repair on that hole in the knee of your trousers, pick a patch that is out and proud for all to see!
In the past I have sewn big red stars on the kid’s jeans, using a cookie cutter as a template, and taken great joy in seeing my little stars running around.

Star patch

Check out the fabulous Mend It May guest post from Stitched Up – Patching Three Ways for more ideas to get you patching!

Boro is a form of traditional Japanese patching that literally translates as ‘rags’ or ‘scraps of cloth’ and is used to describe clothes and other household items such as quilts, that have been patched up and repaired many times.
It works really well on jeans, and is often used in conjunction with Sashiko stitching for additional strength and durability.

My jeans are a mix of boro and sashiko, and are worn with pride!

My jeans are a mix of boro and sashiko, and are worn with pride!

Darning can be either visible or invisible, depending on the colour of the yarn you use. If you want a visible mend, go for a contrasting colour for maximum effect!
Here are some beautifully, but very visibly darned socks by @korjaussarjakollektiivi on the #menditmay hashtag on Instgram:

Screen Shot 2016-05-23 at 14.38.12

Picture credit: @korjaussarjakollektiivi via Instagram

(Check out this post here for a beginner’s guide to darning if you’d like to have a go!)

If you are a dab hand at embroidery, then it is a technique that can be used to great effect for visible mending.
I love these bugs that were shared by @crazyestonian on the #menditmay hashtag on Instagram, and also this brilliant cactus embroidered over a hole in a tea towel by the very talented Erin of Bright Sparks Australia fame.


The definition of Kintsugi is “to repair with gold”, and is another traditional Japanese mending technique.
Broken pottery would be repaired with an adhesive that was mixed with powdered gold, with the aim of treating the breakage and it’s subsequent repair as part of the history of the object, instead of being something to hide.

Picture credit: 1000 Days of Inspiration

Picture credit: 1000 Days of Inspiration

It’s a technique that is growing in popularity again now, and as well as being used to decoratively repair broken ceramics, it can also be employed with textiles, with the use of golden thread. Check out this post here by Scrapiana to find out more.
I’m not sure it’s an official ‘thing’ but I’ve used sugru in the past to elicit a kintsugi like effect, only without the gold. I love that it makes a feature of the repair, and it looks a million times better than it did when it was just glued back together with all it’s cracks showing.

sugru fish3


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  • Reply Marlene Bumgarner September 12, 2016 at 7:39 pm

    I loved this post and would like to extend it into a reflection of visible mending as a symbol of a world view on my own blog at May I have permission to use some of your pictures in my post? Marlene

    • Reply Jen September 13, 2016 at 9:17 am

      Hi Marlene
      Thanks for getting in touch, so pleased you like the post!
      You are more than welcome to share the pictures that are mine (if you could put a credit and a link back to the site, that would be fab) but I obviously can’t give permission for the pictures that aren’t mine.

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