Mend it Monday: no-match patches

Mend it Monday is an initiative begun by The Snail of Happiness.

Mending things, being frugal and saving stuff from landfill is the point. Clothing is cheap these days, mostly for all the wrong reasons. But just because it’s cheap doesn’t mean it’s disposable in the same way as packaging, Just because it has a hole in it doesn’t mean it can’t be saved. Take the Husband’s work pants, for example.

Until quite recently, he’s been reluctant to pay ‘proper’ money for decent quality, because “They just get holes in them”. Gradually, he’s come to appreciate that the better the quality, the fewer the holes that seem to appear as if by magic… So far, none of the good quality ones have required mending. Funny, that.

I’m now mending the last of the medium-quality pants that were the interim measure. But I have a rule. More than three patches on the seat, and they’re not worth saving as garments, because I will have run out of fabric that’s sturdy enough to sew yet another patch onto. As a truck driver, he spends the great majority of his day sitting on that part of his pants, and the pressure and friction is significant!

This pair is on Strike Two.

This pair has one more go, and then it’s the rag bag.

You could say I make a point with these patches by not carefully matching colour and fabric. You’d be right. I see nothing wrong with patching, it’s not something to hide. I use what I have to hand. And if he insists on ripping the seat out of his pants with monotonous regularity, he’s going to take the mending I feel moved to give him!

I save the legs of the pants for patching material, I save the waistband buttons, which also have a tendency to disappear, and occasionally, I’ll be able to save a zipper. I’m looking forward to retiring the last of the cheaper work pants.

It’ll certainly save on the mending!

Mend it Monday #4

An idea devised by The Snail of Happiness

My turn for a mend this week*.

My favourite pair of cropped jeans is wearing at the top between the legs. It’s through on one side and nearly through on the other. I originally looked at taking patches out of the inside of the waistband, but I’ve come up with an alternative.

As you can see, the jeans are striped dark blue on narrow white, but also a little faded. The striped fabric of the patches is striped the other way, light on narrow dark. Strangely, this opposing pattern works really well, so that’s what I’ve used. The fabric’s lighter weight than the original stretch denim, so it’ll wear out eventually too. When that time comes, I’ll still have the fabric inside the waistband to turn to…

In retrospect, I might have used a light blue-grey cotton instead of the white to blanket-stitch the patches, but I didn’t think of it – and anyway, I’m not ashamed of my mending 🙂

That’s better.

*I have also mended more drill work pants for the Husband; he has a strong tendency to pop the buttons off his jeans waistbands. I  decided that in future, buttons will be sewn on with quilting cotton: heavier, stronger, stiffer, and waxed for easier stitching. But no-one comes here to look at sewn-on buttons, so no photo.

Mend It Monday

An idea devised by The Snail of Happiness

The Husband of Chiconia drives a great big B-double fuel tanker, and even in these scary times, he’s still driving it; Australia still needs fuel. One of the things he has to do in his very long 14-hour day is take a couple of fatigue-management breaks. Usually, there’s a spot of napping, since he’s of the lucky sort that can sleep anywhere, any time.

To aid this process, years ago I made him a couple of cushions to go with the truck quilt I constructed from his old work shirts. The cushion front was made from recycled work jeans, and the back from leftover flannel from backing the quilt. Their hard life is now showing badly, and a serious mending was needed. They’ve been mended before, but the fabric was giving way around the mend.

I sliced the ripped backing off the still sturdy denim front, hemmed the edge of two pieces of navy flannel, overlapped them and serged the original front onto the new backing.

Job No. 1 done.

For Job No. 2, I had two pairs of his work pants to mend. They always go at the centre seam, around the seat, probably because he spends so much time sitting on that area in the course of his 14 hour day shift and 10 hour night shift. The trousers are usually perfectly serviceable everywhere else, so I refuse to throw them away, even when already mended (sometimes several times).

I have a basket of patching material cut from the legs of previous pairs, so I select a piece the right size. I pull the edges of the tear together with either batting tape or fusible interfacing. If it’s bad, I’ll do some freehand machine darning. After that, I press a narrow hem all round the patch. I then pin the patch in place and go round the edge with a wide blanket stitch, which secures it very well. The trick is to ensure the patch lies flat while you sew it in place, and to ensure you don’t sew it to any other part of the garment! Anyway, here are both pairs. One with its first patch, one with a new one overlying a previous repair. He doesn’t get carefully colour-coordinated patching, mainly because it’s not an option, he gets whatever blue patches are available, but also because 90% of the time, he’s actually sitting on the evidence!

Job No. 2 done too!

Mend it, fix it, froggit

So, the coral top is done.

I’m pleased with how it came out, but the process was not without hiccups. Isn’t that always the way? You have a simple job to do, and then the blind animosity of inanimate objects gets in the way. I’ve written about this before, but effectively it’s Murphy’s law, made personal. This time, it was the overlocker (serger). I serged one of the seams, cut the thread, turned the garment over and started on the other side. Nothing. No overlocking. 45 minutes and a 20 minute perusal of the manual later, I had thread 4 back in its correct path through the bottom looper arm. I love my needle-nosed tweezers…. Anyway, I got the job done, stitched down the seam allowance with a decorative stitch, pressed it, and it looks perfectly acceptable.

As I sat editing the above photo, I glanced up and saw the stems of my lemongrass clump (now 12 feet high) waving through the window. There were strange lumps on the stems…. Was this some dreaded new tropical pest? Nope. It was an army of frogs. Apparently, ‘army’ is the collective noun for frogs, although these little chaps, at barely half an inch long, are not terribly intimidating. It’s a battalion of our little tropical tree frogs, and why they’re hanging out in the hot sun instead of in the shade is beyond me. Click on the image to enlarge. There’s at least a dozen of them…

I feel a mend coming on…

I had a wardrobe disaster yesterday.

During my Tai Chi class yesterday, doing Hands Through Clouds, I felt a strange creeping sensation in the middle of my back. It passed, and I forgot about it until I took off my top. Aaargh! A tear down the back of one of my favourite hot weather garments 😦  It’s old, and the fabric has worn rather thin, and obviously all that arm waving made it give way. I love the colour, and the fabric is light and very soft. There was no way I was going to recycle this into something else just yet.

Just now, I have a lot of oranges and pinks in my stash. This top is neither; it’s coral/geranium/watermelon/papaya. Or something. Anyway, I had nothing to match exactly. But what I did have was a shade of it, a lighter version in a 2½ inch batik print strip. Even the print was perfect! It mimics the broad band of white print around the neckline, hem and cuffs, whilst at the same time echoing those flowers or mandalas or whatchamacallits.

I’m going to cut the whole tunic from neckline to hem, removing the torn section in the middle. I’ll stitch in the strip, serge/overlock both the garment and the strip edges and hem the top and bottom. A spot of pressing, and voilà. Fixed, and with a bit of extra arm-waving room.

I’ll even be able to Stroke the Peacock’s Tail without risk to my outfit!

Mending: A challenge

It’s a dying art.

I’m talking about mending clothes. In my experience, many of the generation of women before mine made it a point of pride to regard the gentle domestic arts as beneath their dignity as liberated women, describing domestic skills as being under-valued ‘women’s work’ and taking no pride in practising household economy. I come at the end of a large family, and my mother was older than most. She’d raised children in the dark days of wartime Holland, when food and clothing were terribly scarce, and she knew these skills were not to be despised, but rather treasured. So I learned to cook and sew and mend, and stretch what I had, rather than throwing away, buying new and wasting resources.

I snort with disgust when I hear anyone, male or female, declare with pride that they can’t cook and don’t know how to sew on a button. Good grief! Imagine being so helpless! I do concede that it’s only partially their fault. They weren’t taught how. But these things are not hard to learn, and knowing how is so much cheaper than paying someone else to do it and quicker than waiting while they do.

So, I’m issuing a challenge to everyone who’s reading this. Mend something. It doesn’t have to be sewing. Fix it instead of throwing it out or putting it in the shed for Ron (That’s Later Ron, you must have met him). Sew on that button, stitch up that loose thread, put a bit of glue on that flappy thing, screw that other loose thing back down. Save the cost of replacing it, and feel a bit clever as a result. It doesn’t take much to make a start: a few simple tools. Once you’ve done it once, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it earlier. There are a thousand YouTube videos and blog posts and online tutorials for mending things. Go and find out how to do it. People who mend are neither crazy nor geniuses. We’re just ordinary people who don’t believe in throwing stuff out when all it needs is 15 minutes of your attention.

And when you’ve mended something, let us know. Write and talk about it. Encourage other people. Be proud. If you’ve written a post about mending things that you think will help someone else, send me a link and I’ll add it below.

Maybe we can revive the dying art of mending. What do you think?

NOTE: I have edited this post since I first published it, hopefully making it clearer that the opinion expressed is based on my personal experiences rather than a sweeping generalisation about the attitudes of women in the 1960s.


Mending torn seat of jeans:…m-of-the-problem

Mending old torn shirts:

General mending:

Mending a quilting hoop:


Mending a torn down-filled jacket:

Mending a leather purse:

Mending a swing seat cushion:

Mending a fabric purse:

Make do and mend

Something happened to my favourite pair of ripped jeans. 😦

Overnight, they developed pale blotchy brown stains splattered all over the legs. I have no idea what it is. And it won’t wash out, I’ve tried everything. I think it’s something plant-based from out in the back yard, perhaps dating from a rather vigorous pruning session. Rips I live with happily, it’s part of the ‘worn-and-loved-to-death’ look, but these stains just looked, well, dirty.

So instead of throwing out a perfectly good pair of jeans I love, I resolved to patch them. It’s the way I was brought up, by a mother who raised 4 small children, my older siblings, during WWII. ‘Make Do and Mend’ is deeply ingrained in my psyche as a way of life, in all sorts of ways.

Screen Shot 2015-09-16 at 10.29.35 pm

According to the British Museum website: “Make Do and Mend was a pamphlet issued by the British Ministry of Information in the midst of WWII. It was intended to provide housewives with useful tips on how to be both frugal and stylish in times of harsh rationing. With its thrifty design ideas and advice on reusing old clothing, the pamphlet was an indispensable guide for households. Readers were advised to create pretty ‘decorative patches’ to cover holes in warn garments*; unpick old jumpers to re-knit chic alternatives; turn men’s clothes into women’s; as well as darn, alter and protect against the ‘moth menace’. An updated version of the book was recently released to coincide with the economic recession, offering similar frugal advice for 21st century families.” (My italics).
©The British Library

Some of the stains were very small. Others were bigger. I tried ‘pretty decorative patches‘ in nice fabrics. It looked…. meh. And then I thought: Where does it say patches have to be square?

You know what’s coming, don’t you?  What’s my perennial go-to patch(work)?  Yup. The hexie.

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Bye bye, brown blotches. Hello, happy hexies!

I may or may not do a bit of random embroidery on them too. I’ll see how I feel tomorrow.

I’m Hexcited to announce yet another scrap project completed!