Visible Mending, Sashiko, and Wabi Sabi
By now I think my love affair with visible mending and Sashiko is public knowledge. I have confessed my love several times and will do it here once again: I love this stitch for visible mending. I can't get enough of it truly. The more I research Sashiko, Boro, and visible mending the more I fall deeply and madly and also head over heels. In love.
I can't ignore the influence of Natalie Chanin's careful stitch work, her beginnings using secondhand t-shirts, and the amazing advocacy work she continues for the slow fashion movement. I also see the quilting movement and more particularly the Quilts of Gees Bend exhibition all influencing my interest in visible mending and using patches, stitches, and an imperfect aesthetic to promote the life of our beloved blue jeans. Also, I must add the Japanese concept of wabi sabi to this mix. (That's a link to a lovely, succinct article about wabi sabi if you're new to the term.)
I think that's my visible mending lineage: Sashiko, Boro, Natalie Chanin, the Quilts of Gees Bend, and wabi sabi. Add this to my background in environmental studies, poetry, book arts, and textiles and you somehow arrive to where I'm at today with visible mending and slow fashion. Oh, the journey of our creations and interests and how they twist and morph until they arrive exactly where we are at this exact moment in time. The journey.
I just finished this visible mending project on my husband's work pants. There was a small tear in the right knee and I wanted to fix the hole before it became a gash. In abstaining from new clothing for one year for the Make Thrift Mend project, one of the things we noticed quickly was that our favorite pants grew holes in the knees almost predictably. And much too quickly for our liking. So my mending pile is not at any risk of being depleted: the tears in our knees are keeping me busy. It's another reason to consider raw denim, I suppose.
So as his third pair of pants was added to my mending pile I decided to tackle this tiny hole first. I darned it with matching thread and then used the Sashiko stitch to reinforce a denim patch from behind. (I'll talk more about the details and options for visible mending techniques in my upcoming class Slow Fashion Style.)
He went to work wearing these mended pants this morning so I think that's a good sign. I am definitely learning that it makes more sense to invest in higher quality clothing upfront so that the garment will wear longer, we'll care for it more attentively, and when it comes time for mending it is definitely worth the investment of time and handwork. I'm also learning when it might be best to use a visible patch and when it might be better to use subtle stitches. It's all part of the journey.
Mostly, I love the idea of tending to our clothing as it ages, protecting it against damage, and following its natural aging process as an opportunity for expression and preservation. Let the stitches be the wrinkles, the patches be the age marks, and the darned holes be the persistent smile lines we all deserve. If our characters are defined as we age, perhaps our wardrobes can be too.