Old jeans, new jeans

Lately I haven’t been able to crochet much, due to a persistent arm injury I’ve been dealing with since our move. But that creative itch still needs to be scratched, and so — partly inspired by Rebecca doing the same — I’ve been slowly tacking my mending pile. A few weeks ago I patched our wedding quilt. Today I decided to deal with my favourite pair of jeans, which recently blew out a knee.

Poor knee. It didn’t look quite so gaping before I started; this is after I trimmed off most of the extraneous bits. These jeans came from a thrift store, and I don’t know how old they are. I do know that they’re the best pants that have ever fit my weird mom body (seriously: ever), and so I wanted to preserve them if at all possible. And since that size of a hole would be impossible to repair invisibly, I decided to embrace some visible mending and see if I could funkify them a bit while I was at it.

I started with just a quick blanket stitch around the edge of the hole, to reinforce it against further tearing (I hope!). I used regularly embroidery thread for this. Sidebar: remind me to buy a needle threader one of these days because shoving six strands through a needle at once is awful. After the hole was reinforced, I cut a patch out of some scrap denim and used safety pins to hold it in place. The patch is disproportionately large compared to the actual hole, in part because the fabric around the hole is also weak, and in part to have more room for some decorative elements.

I kept the jeans inside-out for all of my sewing, doing a running stitch back and forth across the fabric. It helped to be able to sew ambidextrously here! That meant I could just alternate which hand was sewing and which one was inside the jeans supporting the fabric, without having to constantly turn the jeans around whenever I got to the end of a row and changed direction.

Above is a progress shot. You can see that I kept the stitches very loose; since this is all going over a knee I didn’t want things to get too tight and start pulling more holes as I bend and move.

And finally, the finished jeans! I love how fun they look and the patch feels extremely secure (I’m wearing them now). I’m very pleased to get more wear out of these pants. We’ll see how long it is before I have to do something with the other knee, though…! Perhaps I will reinforce it with some decorative sashiko stitching before it comes to that. We’ll see.

Mending the Wedding Quilt

My husband’s mother died long before I met him, but we do have one especially precious remembrance of her: our wedding quilt. She was working on it until she couldn’t anymore, and it was finished by a neighbour, then carefully boxed up until we received it the night before our wedding. After seven-plus years of regular use, though, it’s started to wear out in a few places. I knew I should fix it, but hemmed and hawed for a while (or rather, didn’t hem (ba-dum tschaa)) as I tried to figure out the best way to do it.

Enter visible mending. I first ran across this idea on reddit — mending with the intention of showing, rather than hiding, the mend. Visible mending celebrates taking care of our items instead of throwing them out. So instead of trying to do invisible seams and hide the fact that our quilt was getting old, I chose to accentuate the fact — to take it as an opportunity to add to the quilt’s story. So with a few patches in a contrasting colour,

a hoop,

and some thread,

I was able to give new life to our wedding quilt, with just a few hours’ attention (my hand sewing is fairly slow). This small (2×2″) patch covers a place where one of the smaller squares had come un-seamed and was flapping around:

And this larger patch (3×4″) mends a place in the border that had some parallel rents. As a bonus, it serves as a handy directional guide (no more guessing which is the short edge and which the long when making the bed!).

A few months ago I probably would have just tried to sew the tears up as invisibly as I could, and probably would have ended up feeling pretty frustrated since that is hard to do. Instead, I got to add to the quilt’s story — and, I think, its beauty — and became the third woman to put her needle to its fabric. That’s neat.

Home horse repair

Back in grades seven and eight, the school I attended offered several non-academic classes to supplement its regular program of languages, math, etc. Besides gym and typing class (which was very strange for us to begin in grade seven, given that we had been typing assignments since about grade three), every year the senior students would get to take both shop and home economics. I don’t remember what we learned in shop class, besides how to use drafting paper to draw rectangular prisms, but in home ec we cooked a bit and we also learned to sew. We used the machines — old, trusty tan-coloured Singers — to make drawstring bags and aprons.

We also learned to sew by hand. At some point our class was sent home with a flyer full of stuffed animal sewing kits to choose from. I picked two horses: one brown, one black. We learned how to sew from a pattern, how to cut and join and stuff, and how to use a punch to properly secure the little plastic bits like noses and eyes. I haven’t seen the black horse in years and years, but the brown horse has survived many moves over the past two decades and now finds itself one of Perpetua’s “crib friends”. It is, alas, showing its age, with several seams burst open and the stuffing showing (though, thankfully, not yet coming out).

So I sat down the other day to see what I could do to fix it up. I didn’t have anything on hand that I thought would work especially well as a patch — and anyway, sewing patches is totally annoying — so I decided to try just sewing the holes closed. This wouldn’t be as easy as it sounds: the horse’s fabric is a bit brittle and crumbly now, and if my thread was too thin, it would just rip through the edges and make the holes larger.

Instead, I decided to use embroidery thread, with a full six strands. And since it was what I had handy, I used dark blue. The stitches definitely show — but I like to think of it as stuffie kintsugi.

Some edges came together very neatly:

In other cases, the gaps were too wide to be drawn together. But that’s where the embroidery thread came it handy. It was thick enough to cover the gap on its own. There’s still some space between the threads, but not enough to let any stuffing out:

Now, from the state of the seams, this probably only going to be the first round of repair. Which is fine. Horse-the-horse may not last another twenty years, but at least I know I can give him a fighting chance.