Visible Mending

Google it. Visible Mending. It is fun! I am used to patching things up either visible or less visible with a machine. But visible mending is meant to be seen, it is also meant to make old fabric more durable. So you could mend before something even breaks.

It is best to use this technique on a non-stretch fabric. This because it is pretty much impossible to make visible mending stretchy. Nevertheless I tried it with my stretch denim anyway because the back of this fabric is black and I wanted to see what it would look like since the hole in the fabric was already looking black. Now, with this one I stitched top to bottom and after that left to right, while weaving trough my previous stitches. This is what makes the black inside of the hole even more black and also even more sturdy. It is how you used to stitch up old socks. (Another nice google, people are doing fun stuff with socks nowadays!)

Two-ways visible mending on a stretch fabric…

Than here are pants you might recognize from a previous mending attempt. Last time I used the sewing-machine, this time it was my hand-work. Because these pants already have a bright color, and I have used this color thread before, I stuck with the same orange color that blends in with the fabric.

Hardly visible

Now, because the patches that I previous used on the back have a very nice rough weave, I used this to guide my hand during stitching. I expect it to break again, which I like because it makes the process for mending unpredictable and the outcome nice and playful. In order to make this happen I didn’t sew too far away from the broken fabric. Of course this way making sure the idea of visile mending making your fabric more durable doesn’t work with these pants.

I think the back of this fabric is like a painting! From these pictures you can see well that the stitches are only from top to button, not woven through the fabric.

through wear and tear, and fixing, it will change.

Below one where I started experimenting with the thread that I used. It is partly thicker. Please note I did not use a patch on the back and therefore it remains more stretchy which is nicer to wear. The part that I did sew will break again though, because I took only very little surface. I did so deliberately, because I would like it to break again and see where I end up then.

threading lightly and less-lightly

Now for the final pants, and this one did take a while, it is a Zara pants that had broken fabric and patches glued to the back. I took out the old patches because the pants were too broken to use these old ones. I tried matching the color of the stitching with fabric patches that I decided on using. So with this one the patches are also non-stretch and the pants had a bit of stretch. I will find out what the effect of that will be in the long run. I hope, because I only use it on the legs it wont interfere with the wearability of the pants.

The patches are not fitting the holes anymore…

So, it was a pretty big surface that I wanted to mend. It meant I had to be clever not to move the patch. As you can see I attached it with safety pins. I also needed a clever way to get room on the inside of the pants to stitch the needle back and forth.  I used my kids tower buiding blocks for it. I put the correct size inside the leg, changing one time as I was going lower in the leg. And than I had room to move. It still took a bit of time but I think itwas pretty quick.

Had to be a bit creative with the tools…

This one is also only stitched one way. So only from left to right. I don’t think that is a problem because of the use of the patch on the back. As you can see I used a bit of creativity with the width and length of the stitches. This I did to get a more playful effect but also to make sure that a slight change in stitching was not going to ruin the look of the pants. The shape of the holes were playful enough that I chose not to use too steady a stitch, which anyway I would not have been able to recreate until the very end. This would have made it look more boring and less poetic.

It took some stitches…

I think this technique calls for more experimentation…. Endless possibilities!

Patching it up.

Only one of my kids is almost completely responsible for wrecking all the pants we have. He can do it so quickly the rest of the pants looks almost unworn. And no matter how much I like shopping, I do not like to throw things away. So, knee-repairing it is!

These pants were all bruised by the same knees.

I will first show you the quickest way to fix a hole, by just using a ready made patch from the store. Than more tedious ones, by cutting them yourself. Than I will show you how I put a piece of cloth behind the opening, so you can show the unfinished broken parts of the fabric. Seems to be a trend nowadays.  Last of all I have opened up an entire pants front panel, and added a few new (very thick) parts of fabric. This will certainly cost you more time but you will see this pants got a completely new look.

With the first pants it is very much possible the pads look familiar to you? These kind of knee-pads you can still find anywhere. These particular ones have been used over and over again. After the pants disintegrated they were reused on a different pair. I liked the old fashioned cord combinded with the old and original version of these knee-pads.

Golden oldies…

With the next blue sweat pants I have selected pads very close to the original colour. These can be found anywhere, and are the easiest to use. They can just be ironed on! I wanted to add stitching for a bit more of a playfull feel, but for the fastening it is not necessary. I matched this stitching thread with the numbers to have a new look for the pants. These knee-pads have readymade hole so the stiching was easily done by hand and quick to boot.

Ready made iron-on knee pads

If you like a bit more novelty than oval shaped knee-pads, try cutting a nice fabric in the shape of, for example, triangles. If you like you could always add two sided fusing between the two layers of fabric, they might hold better but I have not seen any proof that mine let go too quickly. Anyway, get creative! I have made sure that the finish of this pad is, well, unfinished. I took a thick tread and went round the shape. The first washing left its lovely mark.

Even easier to cut than oval ones…

Truly upcycled are these crosses. They come from a different garment I took apart after it got damaged. It is even safer for the kids during nightfall!

These crosses mean, these pants are tired of damage!

These pants are the repair work of a friend. It works so well because the knees of this pants have many different layers. You could always add a layer of fabric on the back of a pair of pants and start stitching.

Just keep stitching, just keep stitching!

The next few knees have been repaired by adding a layer on the back. The smaller the size of the pants the more difficult this is as you cannot run down the inside of the pants with your machine easily. You could play with this, and add a knee-pad with a different colour or even a pattern. If you fastened the pads only on the top and the side you leave a bit of room that will make sure when the kids sits or runs the hole will change and the position of the leg will show more or less of the layer of fabric on the inside of the pants. Make sure you make this layer long enough inside the pants!

The inside has a layer, fastend only above and the sides of the hole, so it will widen when walking.

Now, the last leg. It took some time to open up the entire front panel of this garment as it was stiched trought with a thick yarn multiple times. I cut the front panel off and replaced the part that was broken with a new thick layer of fabric. You can really get creative with this one.

He called this his work-pants!


I am sure you can also see there is much much more that can be done to make pants look like new. Or atleast have them wear broken pants a bit longer, untill they grow out of them. Or what about fixing pants in such a way it turns into girly pants where it were boys pants? Just dont toss them away right away. This way you can make sure your kids are wearing unique items!

Half a year later, I have a few more knees that broke. I will just keep adding pictures here, for inspiration-sake…

The next pants has fake leather knees taken from an old legging somebody thoughtful gave me. I have added red hand sewn tags throughout the garment. Just because I liked giving it a little bit of an update!

Red tags!