My favorite perfectly worn in jeans got a hole in them. It started small, but every time I washed them, it just got a little bigger and a little bigger again.
I knew that I wanted to mend them, but I didn’t want them to look haphazard or shabby. I wanted a result that I could proudly wear just as I would any of my “good” jeans.
Casting around for ideas, I came across the book Mending Matters: Stitch, Patch and Repair Your Favorite Denim & More by Katrina Rodabaugh. In it, she states
When we spend time patching, stitching, darning, or otherwise fixing torn fabrics, we ultimately deepen our understanding of quality, composition, and craftsmanship.
She likes using simple needlework, such as running, straight and whip-stitches in natural fibers to complement the craftsmanship of the original denim garment.
At the same time, another book caught my eye, this time about the Japanese quilting technique sashiko. The Ultimate SASHIKO Sourcebook: Patterns, Projects, and Inspirations by Susan Briscoe turned out to be a great general reference and introduction. Many readers will recognize the repeating geometric patterns used in sashiko embroidery, even if unfamiliar with the craft. Since sashiko began centuries ago as a thrifty way to mend all kinds of items made of woven fabric, it seemed like a great fit for mending my old jeans.
I took the patterns as an inspiration and looked at what I had on hand that might work. If I had some denim of a similar weight to my jeans, I could have used that as a patch. Since I didn’t, I looked for a good quality tightly woven fabric that I could attach underneath. Scraps from the quilting cotton I used for my Vintage Style Shirtdress fit the bill and was soft enough that I knew it would not be irritating against the skin.
I thumbed through the sashiko pattern reference in the Sashiko Sourcebook and chose a simple design that I thought would look nice stitched over about a 3 inch square. I traced the design onto tracing paper using a marker designed for iron-on transfers. (Iron-on transfer pen – black by Sulky. I have more on tranferring designs in my post on Hand Embroidered Dishtowels.
I considered using fusible tape to temporarily hold the patch in place, but pinned it carefully instead, as Rodabaugh does in her book. On the right side, I chalked a square over the location of the patch. I used the chalk lines to help place my iron-on in place. It turned out to make a nice, solid impression, although a little bit heavier line than I expected.
Sashiko thread is a long staple cotton made especially for the highly visible sashiko stitch. It comes in different weights and colors, and can even be hand dyed. I would love to try it some time, but this time I made do with what I had on hand.
The closest match I could find was a spool of jeans topstitching thread. It’s designed to use with jeans, so the colors coordinated well. To make the stitches stand out a little more, I doubled the thread. I did try to keep the stitches nice and even, but it’s pretty obvious I’m new at this. Even so, I like the way it turned out. I think I put the brakes on the hole’s growth. I think the patch underneath will look interesting if/when it starts to show through.
Sulky Heat Transfer Pen in Black (It also comes in lots of other colors)
Until next time, happy sewing!