Saturday, November 28

This Month I have been Mostly doing.... Mending, and a bit of altering

This is actually rather a long post. If you like reading about mending read on, if not, better go and do something else.....

First there were the cardigans, which was the altering bit. I bought two, the same style, one pink and one blue, in a charity shop for £1 each. This was the blue one -

Both cardigans are in very good condition. I'm definitely a wool person and if I was buying new (or knitting it myself) I'd want more wool than this, preferably 100%, but for £1...... Enough to keep me warm - ish. I would guess that it is probably 80s or 90s, judging from the label. It's certainly a long time since I saw a Littlewoods shop.

The problem with them was that the neckline was quite high, and when I wore them the top edge made my neck itch. How to remedy this? First I got a strip of old t-shirt and used it to line the inside of the ribbed section, but unfortunately I could still feel it scratching me right on the top edge. I thought about doing it again and making the jersey go slightly over the top, but I thought that might look daft. Dare I do some chopping? Well, if I wanted to wear these cardigans then that was the only answer. So I cut off the top ribbed bit, but before I did that I sewed all round, through the stitches, just below where I intended to cut, to stop (hopefully) the stitches running.

Then I did blanket stitch all round, and Bob's your uncle, one warm wearable cardigan for the winter!

(I just put that old cotton reel in for interest. It's an old make I've never heard of. I've got quite a lot of old reels of cotton - some I use for tacking and some I dare to use in the machine, despite some people saying that you shouldn't use old thread in your sewing machine.) Anyway, this is the finished cardigan. The neckline is a bit wavy but I don't think that matters.

And this is the pink one. (Husband loves this colour on me but hates the blue one!) When I was little I would never have worn pink, thinking it was too girly girly, but when I got to about 20 I decided I liked certain shades of pink and that they suited me, and now it's one of my favourite colours. 

Now on to a bit of mending for a customer. This particular one is quite a regular - I have done a lot of mending for her. The sort of person that one might describe as "well to do".  What I like about a lot of such people is that they appreciate good clothes and household linen and get it mended when it needs it. I darned her husband's wool cardigan, which I think she said he "wears round the house now". 

Here's the major hole before darning. Incidentally I use embroidery thread where a fine thread is called for, because I don't know whether VERY fine mending wool exists, e.g. suitable for merino wool garments. I have not found any. One of my other customers has a box choc a block full of really good quality mending wool, which she gives me to use for her mending, and none of it is fine enough to use for this sort of garment.

And after mending.

Another of the many holes....(It really is the same cardigan! I don't know why the colour is not accurate here) -

And after

And now on to trousers for the same lady's husband. These were a pair of chinos with some minor wear and tear type of holes. I use woven cotton iron-on interfacing for this sort of repair - I iron it onto the back of the hole/rip and then stitch over it on the right side, in this case just using a straight stitch.

Again the colour's not very accurate -

And now, my piece de resistance...... (apologies here to any French readers for the lack of accents. It might be very offensive, just as missing apostrophes are to moi! And Liz Truss. And John Humphries. I know there should be two in there but I have yet to learn how to put them in on the computer. I have the same problem with umlauts when using German words occasionally to my son in Germany) -


These jeans are at least 5 years old. This first photo shows some mends I did, ooh, maybe a couple of years ago. Recently I had begun to get worried that the jeans were getting so thin in places that if I wasn't careful I would be walking around one day unintentionally revealing what was underneath.....and given that some of the most worn bits were around the backside, well, that doesn't bare thinking about. I decided that they had had it, and were only fit for cutting up and making into something else, but then I thought about how much I liked these jeans, and surely if I did quite a LOT more patching and stitching.......

By the way I like the idea that a garment isn't finished when it's finished, if you get my meaning, but that it continues in its development after this, when someone mends it, or alters it. I think I read that on Tom of Holland's blog (if you want to see some amazing mending, go there). So I am continuing the development of my jeans, as it were.

Detail of one of those original mends.

Another detail

 This is what my jeans look like now - and I'd just like to add that the other day, in a shop, the assistant was very complimentary about them and when I said I had just finished mending them, she said she thought I'd bought them like it!

Again I used embroidery threads, usually two strands. Fortunately I have a big stash of them, some bought and some acquired from I can't remember where!

This pic shows the inside after I had ironed on lots of the aforementioned interfacing over the thin bits. My intention at this stage was to do lots of stitching over the worn bits. 

Here I have done some stitching, on top of the denim, and below on the dark blue patch, which I had machined on. This patched bit is along the lines of Japanese boro mending - if you haven't come across this type of mending then have a google. I love the look of it, especially with all the indigo fabrics they use. Oh, another thing to mention is that I undid the inside leg seams to make all this mending much easier.

In the pic below, you can see hand stitching (red, yellow etc.), under the patches. And a non-patched stitched pink rectangle. I have to admit that I had to give up on the idea of close hand stitching (for strength) all over every thin bit - it was taking ages and much as I loved doing it I wanted  to be able to wear these jeans in the not TOO distant future. So I added the patches (bits of old shirt), and then did hand stitching on top - with the patches strengthening the fabric the stitching didn't need to be quite so close together. 

Detail of pink bit.

And here is the back of the jeans. The two patches to the left I hemmed first, but the one on the right I didn't - it's got raw edges. In images on the web the boro seems to have raw edges (I would love to see some in real life). I do like raw edges and wish I'd done all the patches like this but I only thought of it halfway through. Of course it may be that the raw edges will fray too much when washed but we'll see.

And finally, blanket and running stitch round the pocket, and random darning behind it.

I really have been on a roll with the mending lately, so much so that when I finished the jeans I was looking round for something else to mend, and here it was - oven gloves! I should say that these are actually CLEAN - fresh off the washing line in fact, just stained. I do have a talent for getting stains out of things (another post perhaps!) but really I don't think stains on oven gloves matter. 

I had already mended these 4 years ago (yes 4!), using another pair - hence the hand stitching round the edge. I was going to patch them but then as I was standing at the kitchen table waiting for something to cook (it was tea time) I looked at a cone of very thick cotton thread that happened to be there amongst my sewing stuff (I do have a sewing room but I tend to do a lot in the kitchen too) and thought "Ah! some weaving perhaps!"

You can see that one might burn one's fingers......

So, weave away I did.

Both ends done.

One last pic. This is my husband's favourite jumper, which I bought him in a charity shop. It has at least 6 darns - this is the latest one. This is very visible mending; fortunately he doesn't mind. In fact I think he's quite proud of my darning......

Is that an ending to my mending? Well, just for a while.Our own mending alone (apart from what I do for other people) is never ending really, but I don't mind, because I really enjoy both the doing of it, and the satisfaction that comes of making something usable or wearable again.

And so to bed, but first a question - have you mended anything lately?? Or got something tucked away waiting to be mended??!!



  1. hi Lizzie, well done on the mending. I thought I was alone in still doing it. I darn socks mainly. I have some trickster pants awaiting mending, I have an old many times repaired pair that really have had it but will use the useable bits on the others I have. the inner thigh areas goes with cycle riding. well done on those jeans. if you put them on ebay , it would be interesting to see what people would pay for them.

    1. I need the jeans too much to put them on Ebay! Glad this post came through to you OK this time.

  2. Any interest in mending a merino jumper for me...?
    Also, not sure if it requires a special setting on the computer to be turned on or not, but on my (US keyboard) laptop I can first press 'CTRL+" (whichever key you need to get the ", then let go, then press the letter which you want as an Umlaut äöü.

    1. Bring it home when you come, Son..... Will try what you said re the umlaut. At least one member of my family reads my blog!!!!!!!

  3. Its so nice to hear that other people like darning and its not just me. Love my darning mushroom. I keep an eye out on ebay for vintage darning threads, they are good quality wool usually. Also use vintage cotton especially sylko on my Singer sewing machines, it works fine.

    I mend my favourite work jeans on the sewing machine using a darning foot with the feed dogs down, it does a brilliant strong repair.

    Love your jeans, what a good idea. X

    1. You should put a pic of your jeans on your blog! I do sometimes use the patching stitch on my Bernina which does a good job, but sometimes I just feel like going bit wild.....

  4. Ooh, you busy bunny! Love what you did with your jeans! xx


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