Hand sewing has never been my favorite thing. The immediacy of machine stitching, not to mention the speed, is very appealing. But now I may be a convert to hand-sewn visible mending.
Never bored! Sometimes boro’ed? That’s me!
I’ve always loved the look of Japanese boro textiles, sashiko decorative stitching, and Indian kantha stitching, too. The trend to combine them in visible mending was impossible to resist. I had to try it!
Finding some inspiration
Using Pinterest and Instagram as sources of inspiration, I dove in and started stitching some patches and patterns onto a pair of jeans that has become my favorite pair for indigo dyeing, as they already were worn and holey (definitely not holy!).
Materials from my stash
I pulled a few scraps of vintage Japanese fabric into the mix from my stash, and here’s the result. It doesn’t take much fabric for the patchwork, so this is a perfect way to use those very precious scraps. I used a sashiko needle and no. 8 weight sashiko thread.
Boro? Sashiko? Kantha? Visible mending? What’s the difference?
As I understand it, Japanese Boro patchwork is what peasants would use to make their garments last longer. Adding patches of indigo-dyed cloth to worn spots with running stitches reinforced and strengthened the Japanese workers’ garments. Indian Kantha stitching is similar, but featured the use of old silk saris for the materials. Sashiko or “little stitches” is a specific stitching technique, also from Japan, but was more typically used as a decorative addition to finer garments and household items, or to add strength. Picture deep blue cloth with little regular white stitches in geometric patterns. Textile experts, please forgive my very rough and sophomoric attempt at explaining the differences!
Visible mending is a more current trend which combines all these historic handwork techniques. Denim blue jeans and jackets are perfect garments to practice this blend of decorative repair work. I really enjoyed the process of letting go, and stitching without a plan.
Unplugging to stitch
This was the perfect “analog” activity for TV time, or for simply sitting, stitching, and “being.” Hand sewing calms the heart and mind, and that is so needed right now.
Do you have an interest in visible mending?
I am thinking of developing a workshop for people who might like to try visible mending, but don’t know where to start. Please send me an email if you’re interested in a class of this type. I think this technique would lend itself well to being an online class! Contact me to request a visible mending workshop.
3-DAY SYMPOSIUM: Japan + Quilts
Friday – Sunday, October 2 – 4, 2020
9:00 am – 4:00 pm
Port Townsend School of the Arts
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