Friday, June 14, 2019

Another mending project

My friend showed up the other day with a blouse she had bought at the second-hand shop, which after she brought it home turned out to have a tear where the sleeve meets the body, the sure sign of a garment that's too tight between the bust and the shoulder.  Could it be fixed? she wondered. 

I am such a lover of mending that I even volunteer to do other people's mending.  And I needed a small project that would require me to spend a couple of hours at the sewing machine, to get me out of my creative funk.  This sounded like just the ticket.

Because the blouse was mostly silk, it not only tore but shredded, and I didn't want to re-cut the entire bodice of the blouse, so I needed a patch that would be strong and stable enough to prevent further shredding.  Fortunately the shredding was only on the bodice, not on the sleeve, so I would only have to use one patch before re-stitching the seam.

The blouse didn't have a turned-up hem or turned-back placket with enough material to yield up a patch, but it did have a breast pocket.  I unstitched most of the pocket, cut a hunk of fabric out from underneath, and closed it back up with a double layer of organza, a lightweight-but-strong fabric that makes great mending material. 

Sewed the pocket back together, figuring that this easy part of the project would let me test out if I needed any special needle or thread.  No, everything was working well.

Opened up the armhole seam, cleared away all the thread bits, trimmed off the shredded fabric.  Started to get the patch ready to sew, when -- klong -- I noticed that there was a twin tear/shred on the other sleeve as well!  We hadn't noticed that in the initial inspection. 

It was exactly like the first tear/shred, except a little narrower.  Easily patched -- except that I had only the one piece of fabric.  The pocket was already mended and sewed back together and I was NOT going to go back and do that again to get another patch!

So I cut the fabric piece in two, one side a little wider than the other.  I sewed each one just barely covering the shredded area, as much as I could spare from my salvaged fabric.  Clearly these patches couldn't constitute the entire repair; the seams were only an eighth-inch wide, and they would pull apart under the slightest bit of stress. 

Organza to the rescue -- I put organza patches on the back side of the garment, about an inch wider in all directions than the shredded area and the new fabric patches.  Stitched everything together, restitched the armhole seams, zigzagged the seam allowances.  Good as new!

I like these mends!!  Probably the very narrow patches are a lot less visible than if I had used the full width of what I had cut in a single patch.

But I had several minutes of cussing and self-flagellation when I discovered that second tear.  There are several morals to this story: If you find one tear in a too-tight garment, keep looking -- there may be others.  Don't close up your surgical incision until you're sure you don't need anything else in there.  Organza is really good to have around.  But most important, don't give up!


  1. You've given me some good mending information. I have a beautiful silk pajama top in the "Lucille Ball" style that had been hanging in my closet for awhile waiting for me to find some suitable bottoms to go with it (the original bottoms had a wide casing with elastic inserted at the waist and the silk eventually wore away along the top of the casing). I recently found something close enough to make a set again so washed the top (something I'd done in the machine many times). Horror of horrors, there is all kinds of shredding along the armholes now and I've been wondering how in the world I can salvage it. With your ideas, I may be able to now.

  2. Wonderful inspiration! Thanks for the tip about silk organza, and the *extra* fabric under a pocket!