One day this quilt will be all patches

Almost exactly two years ago, I posted about mending our wedding quilt, which I chose to do by employing visible mending. I love the philosophy of making repairs visible; they become part of the item’s story, a testament to the love and care we (hopefully) take with our things. Since that post I have put on a few more patches, using different colours and patterns of fabric from my scrap bin. The process for these is exactly the same: iron, cut, press seams, hoop, stitch, fini. I put on a large block patch over a long rent in the border, and a series of smaller ones that fold over some tattering edges.

Well, the quilt has continued to wear, as these things are wont to do, and it was recently time for another round of repairs. There was one hole I found in the centre of the quilt, but the borders showed a lot more damage. (Which makes perfect sense as those are the parts that get yanked on while making the bed or adjusting the covers during sleep.) And since I was a bit bored of patches, I decided to see what I could do with embroidery. Here is satin stitch covering the tear in the middle:

Another example of satin stitch on the border, as well as some… star shapes? We’ll go with that.

For this long rent, I decided to do a backstitch outline/border around the tears, and fill it in with running stitch. I like the effect of not patching this and letting the batting show through. Time will tell if the running stitches are enough to hold it in place, but I think they’ll do fine.

I did a few small sections (only one pictured) in a loose cross-stitch:

And finally, the part that took the longest: a blobby, backstitched spiral around and onto another large tear. It reinforces the fabric around the tear as well as being decorative.

All of this took me several good evenings of work after the children were in bed. It reminded me how much I enjoy hand sewing, and especially embroidery — which, prior to these repairs, I hadn’t done for probably a good fifteen years. But I’ve got the itch again; I’ve sent off for an embroidery kit, and I’m working on adding some embroidered embellishments to a heretofore rather plain tshirt. That will be revealed when it’s finished — well, at least if it turns out!

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.