Mending is an obviously functional art but I try to be creative with my mending endeavours for maximum PIZAZZ (fave word). The mending situation is the framework within one needs to work when solving any mending problem but here are a few ways I have added ‘fancy’ to my friend and artist Jay’s pants.
For my recent collaboration with Jay, I had an interesting problem. He wore his pants rolled up and in the place where he kept them rolled to, he developed a hole. Normally I just patch and top stitch a hole but this one would be seen from both sides so the inside and outside needed to be beautiful.
To solve the problem I first fixed the holes themselves. I stitched a yellow backing fabric behind the hole (with blue thread to secure the fabric, adding extra stitching around the hole to stop further fraying). I used the blue thread so my patch attaching stitches would not be visible from the outside of the pants. On top of this, I added vertical sashiko running stitches over the area I had attached a patch. This was for added strength as well as visual interest. I wanted the white stitches to pop up above the pants when cuffed. This would be enough mending if he was going to be wearing his pants down all the time but I knew he cuffed them most of the time and that the under side would be showing almost always. To make this work, I added a patch in a complimentary blue color (in this case vintage Japanese hand printed indigo fabric found on a trip to Japan a few years ago). To keep it neat I tucked under the edges of the blue fabric and appliquéd them in place (see my last post for more details on this). That way you couldn’t see the back of the sashiko stitching or the knots when his pant leg was cuffed.
The next problems I had to solve were a bunch of tiny holes in the denim on the creases at the back of the knees in Jay’s pants. Because his pants didn’t have any elastic in them, the denim was wearing at the place where it was constantly being creased when he walked and sat down (behind the knee). Here was my conundrum: there were lots of little holes spread out fronm each other that needed to be patched but the area in question still had to be VERY flexible and because the holes were spread out and random, I couldn’t add a lot of sashiko stitching without it looking like a disaster from a design standpoint. I found the inspiration for my solution in Jay’s photograph.
If you are following along in this series you will know that the original premise of my idea was to have my artist friends send me a small work of art and an item of clothing to mend. Using the (previously unseen work of art) as inspiration I would mended their clothing item and turn my mend / their clothing into a work of art itself and send it back to them. Using Jay’s photograph, I drew up a design that was inspired by his photograph and solved my mending conundrum in spectacular style (if I do say so myself).
Here’s how I did it. With a super flexible Japanese stitching cloth, I covered all the tiny holes from the inside of the pant leg. With white, highly visible thread I tacked these patches in place. Next, I transfered my design from my sketch to my pants using red transfer paper, placing it between my sketch and pants and tracing the leaf motif. I then went over my motif with a washable fabric pen so the design was very easy to see.
For the sashiko stitching I did a simple running stitch with longer stitches on the outside (visible while wearing side) and the shortest stitches I could manage on the inside (seen above). I followed along the leaf pattern and tied a simple knot to finish each leaf motif before making a new knot and starting the next leaf (it’d not a good idea to have long thread floats between the designs).
That’s it for today but don’t forget to check out the the SMT Pattern Shop tomorrow for the first #SMTFancyPantsPatches kits inspired by this project. Each kit will include everything you need to get started mending including hand dyed indigo fabric (dyed by ME!), jean patches (one with elastic blend, one without), sewing thread, sashiko thread, a sashiko needle, the floral stitching motif seen above, two accent colors of hand dyed fabric, all the tools you need to get started, AND a large cut of my favorite vintage Japanese indigo cloth. See you tomorrow!