Thursday, August 19, 2010

Designer mending -- the tutorial

I’ve written before about my love of mending, especially when I can turn a patch into a “designer detail.”

Recently my brother visited, bringing a couple of beautiful cashmere sweaters with big holes in them. Being a conscientious objector in the fashion wars, I don’t often have the opportunity to fix cashmere, so this was fun.

I thought others might enjoy a tutorial in designer mending. (It works on acrylic as well as cashmere.)

Start with a backing. For this project I used black Kona cotton; I have also used nonwoven interfacing. Cut the backing considerably bigger than the hole. Flip the sweater inside out, place it carefully on a flat surface without stretching, and baste the backing to the sweater outside the margins of where the designer patch is going to go.

Cut a patch out of ultrasuede, plenty big to cover all edges of the hole. Pin it to the right side of the sweater making sure the pins don’t pull the patch out of shape. With a star shape it’s easy to pin over the points and not pierce the ultrasuede at all. With other shapes maybe you can pin over the corners.

For this star shape, which requires only straight line stitching, I used a walking foot. (For circles or hearts I would probably use a darning foot and drop the feed dogs for free-motion stitching.)

Pull the bobbin thread to the top where you plan to start sewing. Grab both top and bobbin threads and hold them firmly behind the presser foot. Pull gently on the threads as you begin to sew (note my thumb in the photo) to make sure the patch stays where it belongs and doesn’t get pushed out of place under the presser foot.

Sew around the patch once or twice. Depending on the shape, you might want to add some stitching in the center of the patch as well as the edges; the more it’s sewed down, the more stable it’s going to be when finished.

Pull the thread ends to the back of the sweater and bury them by running your needle carefully between the backing and the ultrasuede.

Trim the thread ends, then trim the edges of the backing close to the stitching.

Wear with your head high. Your sweater is better with its patch than it was to start with. You could even do this without the underlying hole.  (PS -- how does this sweater turn from blue to purple to blue and back again???  Beats me.)


  1. Interesting idea. My designer mending is usually embroidery, sometimes with beading. I have a black cashmere sweater I bought at a thrift store for two dollars because it had two small holes on the shoulder. (It came from the era when Big! Heavy! shoulder brooches were fashionable.) I darned the holes and embroidered a spider over them, with tiny red beads for eyes. I've never gotten around to beading the web on the back, as I meant to.

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  2. Thanks, Big Sister. Love, Your Baby Brother. And for those wondering, the sweater is purple.