Sashiko Mending Is a Clothing Life Saver
Get more out of your clothes with this simple method of visible mending.
Our boys can wear out a pair of jeans in a matter of weeks. The area that gets the most damage is the knees. This doesn’t surprise us in the least since they seem to spend a good amount of time crawling and sliding on the floor. To get a little more out of the pants before they end up in a rag pile, we use the Sashiko method of visible mending to patch them up.
Sashiko is a traditional Japanese embroidery. The style is comprised of geometric and linear patterns, which viewed from afar look complex and intricate. This style of visible mending was mostly used in Japan to repair kimonos. The embroidery served two purposes: to reinforce the worn area of the clothing and to make the area attractive. It’s a simple technique that doesn’t take any special tools.
- cotton embroidery thread (you can use embroidery floss)
- long embroidery needle (the width of the needle needs to be uniform for the entire legnth of the needle)
- fabric for patch
- fabric chalk or soap (for marking)
Clean the Hole and Cut the Patch
Ideally, you should reinforce the area before a hole appears. However, it’s not the end of the world if you don’t get to it before the fabric breaks. Start by removing the threads around the hole. You’ll need a fabric remnant large enough to cover the whole knee area (not just the hole). In order to make sure the knee doesn’t continue to wear thin, make sure the piece of fabric covers the entire worn out area (it’s usually lighter in color).
Insert the patch inside the pant leg, making sure the entire worn area is covered. Pin the patch in place. Do not pierce through to the back of the pant leg, just the top layer and the patch underneath.
Mark Sew Lines
There are many types of Sashiko patterns. The simplest to start with is a straight line. To help you keep your lines straight, you can measure and mark parallel lines across the knee area on the pant leg. This is optional: it’s fine to eyeball it.
Thread your embroidery needle with about 18-24 inches of thread. Try not to go longer than that or the thread will tangle as you sew. Knot one end and insert the needle from the bottom of one of your lines closest to the edge of the pant leg. Be sure to go through the patch fabric and the top of the pant leg. You will be using a “running stitch.” Insert the needle through the fabric without pulling the thread through. The stitch should be about ¼ inch long. Run the needle through the fabric without pulling the thread through until you have multiple stitches on the needle. If they are not uniform, no worries. It takes practice. As you near the end of the line, make sure you end each row with the needle on the underside of the patch. Start the next row by bringing the needle up through the top of the next line.
If you run out of thread, knot it off on the underside of the patch. However, try to look ahead and knot off the thread at the end of a row versus in the middle. It is much easier if you change thread at the end of the row. Also, as you sew, stop every few stitches and smooth the fabric out to remove the puckering in the fabric.
Sashiko is a wonderful way to get more use out of your clothes and a creative way to patch. Use colorful thread or patterned fabric to make old, worn clothes a true piece of art. You’ll never get upset at a hole in your pants again.