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9 Things to Know Before Visibly Mending a Garment

Visible mending has been growing in popularity over the past few years. Who doesn't enjoy being able to repair a garment they love to give it a new life?! A someone who dislikes clothes shopping, I am all for making the clothes I have last as long as possible. Not only does visible mending renew your clothes, it also give them a fresh new look.

1. Condition, Location, and Type of Fabric

The condition of the garment, location of the wear, and type of fabric often dictates the type of mend needed.

Fabric condition: If the garment has minimal wear and tear, a simple clean up and then mend is usually all that is needed. This is because the fabric around the damage will hold up to mending. If the garment has large holes, fraying, or other damage, the fabric around that area is usually also thin and will need to have added structure before the garment can be completely mended. If you don't do this first, the garment won't hold up to the mend and tear even more. It's also important to remove any straggly or loose ends before you can begin mending.

Wear location: Is your mend near a pocket? Along a hem? In a knee or elbow? It's important to keep in mind how the fabric of the garment will move when it's worn. If the mend is too tight or doesn't have the right amount of movement it will tear the garment even more.

Type of fabric: What type of fabric are you wanting to mend? Is this stretchy fabric? Thin, thick, knit, flannel, denim? Some type of fabrics require specific mends. Knit sweaters and socks often need to be darned. Denim is versatile and can hold up to many different mends.

2. Access

Now that you've accessed where your mend is located, it's time to review how you'll access it while stitching. Unfortunately, tears, holes, stains, and wear happen in the weirdest and hard to access places. Along seam lines, in the butt or crotch or pants, and at the elbows, hems, and knees. To get into those hard to reach places, you might find it's helpful to roll up pant legs and long sleeves, or even unstitch part of the garment, like a back pocket to get to the area needing to be mended.

3. Stabilize It

Not all garments needing to be mended are easy to work with. Some fabrics are stretchy and thin. To ensure your garment won't move around while you mend it, try using an embroidery hoop. This will add structure to the area needing to be mended. Just make sure not to pull your fabric too tightly in the hoop, otherwise, it'll distort your garment. Another way to stabilize a garment is with a stabilizer. There are a variety of options from pin-on to iron-on to wash away.

4. Plan It Out

Free-handing a design might seem like a good idea at the time, but I promise it will not turn out how you envisioned it. I'm speaking from experience and from having taught visible mending classes. Instead, plan out your mend. Drawing your idea on paper, transfer paper, or directly onto your garment can help you better plan out how the mend will look and fit on the garment.

This is also the time to think about what kinds of materials will you need to create your mend. Are you patching a hole? You'll need a material similar to your garment for the patch. Are you drawing a design onto the garment? Look for transfer pens or pencils. Want to use a pattern? Look some up in The Mending Directory. Are you covering the design with embroidery? You might consider a peel stick and stitch design.

5. Choose Your Thread

The type of garment being mended should dictate the type of thread being used for the mend. For thicker sturdier garments, a thicker thread will work. For thinner stretchier garments, a thinner thread is better. The important thing to keep in mind when visible mending is that the thread shouldn't damage the garment when you're creating the mend. If the thread or needle is leaving holes, stretching or tearing the garment, then switch to a smaller needle and thinner thread.

6. Keep It Short

While it might seem like having a longer thread means you'll have to tie off the thread less, it's usually more cumbersome. Instead, keep the thread to an arm's length or less. This will ensure that thread isn't left on the back of the mend while you're stitching, and cut down on the possibility of thread tangles.

Just remember: shorter thread = less knots and easier access to your mend.

7. Gloss It

Use thread gloss. This magical scented beeswax mix is a visible menders dream! Not only does this help the thread easily glide through your fabric, it also makes the thread easier to thread through the needle, and the thread less prone to knots. My favorite is the Mojave Blend!

How do you use thread gloss?
  • Select your desired length and number of strands of thread, making sure the ends are even

  • Open the thread gloss container

  • Gently press the end of the threads into the gloss

  • Using your thumb, hold the thread in place as you gently pull it across the thread gloss. You won't see a lot of gloss on the thread, but just like hair conditioner, it's working even when you can't see it.

8. Backing

Some mends can benefit from a stabilizer added to the back of the fabric. Once your mend is complete and any transfer designs and marks are removed, you can iron on another stabilizer. I like to use Sulky Tender Touch iron-on stabilizer for stretchy, flimsy, and thin fabrics. This stabilizer helps protect the back of the embroidery and adds a soft layer between the garment and your skin.

9. Care

Now that your garment is mended, it's important to take proper care of it so that the mend will hold up. Hand washing mended garments and air drying is usually recommended because it cuts down on the wear and tear of machine washing and drying. If you're like me and barely have time to do a regular load of laundry, let alone hand wash anything, then try this. When using the washing machine, turn the garment inside out. This will help protect the front of the mend. Wash the clothes on the delicates cycle. Now you can either hang dry or use the dryer. If you opt for the dryer, use a lower temp setting so that the garment is less likely to shrink.

Hopefully these tips and photos inspire you to mend your own clothing.

*Thanks for reviewing my tips and recommendations. This post contains affiliate links. Should you purchase something mentioned in this post, I may receive a small portion of the sale.*


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