Visible Mending Blends Fiber Arts with Sustainability

Visible Mending Activates Creativity and Gives New Life to Old Clothes

Favorite jeans are torn at the knees, treasured flannels have frayed at the elbows, the warmest of socks have split in the toes; what’s the fate of all of these once new, now well-loved garments? Rather than passing them on to a thrift store or adding them to a sewing scrap pile, families can give new life to their well-worn clothes by doing a bit of creative visible mending. Combining basic sewing skills, a bit of artistry, and the principles of leading a more sustainable lifestyle, visible mending is a perfect solution to the woes of well-worn clothing, and provides a simple means of upcycling goods. It’s even a great entry point for exploring sewing skills!

The concept of mending, of course, has been around for eons – dating back to a time when simply buying a replacement simply wasn’t an option. Today, mending remains important, and offers many a simple fix for the small tears and worn patches that clothes will inevitably experience. Visible mending, however, differs from regular mending in that it’s meant to be seen (hence its name), and gives new life to articles of clothing by not only fixing rips, tears, and the like, but by adding interesting (and perhaps artistic) details to clothing. Visible mending is not only practical, but can be exciting and engaging for creative folks.

Using just a few basic hand stitches, families can create visibly mended masterpieces and bring favorite items back into regular rotation. For those with machine sewing skills, visible mending can become even more interesting, as it makes stitch-based artistry much easier to accomplish. Perhaps garments can take on entirely new lives by becoming patches, or by lending a sleeve or a leg to another as part of a nearly-surgical mend!

Taking the time to mend articles of clothing (rather than somehow discarding them) can help connect children to the weight carried by these items. By connecting with the life of their clothes, young menders can begin to recognize the value of their clothing and the importance of maintaining it rather than replacing it. For more ideas on what to do with worn out clothes and fabrics that simply cannot be re-used, check out our reader Q&A on tattered and torn clothes!

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