Visible Mending for Weavers

Who knew visible mending would become a thing? I would never have foreseen it, but I’m all in ... with handwovens.

Susan E. Horton Mar 22, 2023 - 4 min read

Visible Mending for Weavers Primary Image

Jeans patched with handwoven fabric. Photos by Susan E. Horton

The first time I heard about visible mending being in style, I was incredulous. Being the youngest of three girls made me the recipient of hand-me-downs, and having a thrifty mom meant some of my play clothes had repairs. I wanted to go back in time and tell 8-year-old me that the knee patches my mom sewed on my pants weren’t weird and embarrassing but totally cool. Clearly timing is everything, and I was born too soon.

As it turns, out I’ve been accidentally hip for quite a few years now. My husband often blows out the knees and seat of his jeans, and I’ve been repairing them over the past 30 years or so using pieces of even older jeans. Okay I confess, I use a sewing machine but they are visible mends. He wears those patched jeans proudly, and he has even received compliments on them from time to time. Some are so patched, there are patches over the patches that stretch from the calf to the upper thigh.

Still, as a weaver, I was feeling a bit left out of the visible-mending trend. I saw that Spin Off readers were all in. They are mending by hand using their beautiful handspun, and who wouldn’t want that to be visible? And then I had an idea, and I’m fully prepared for it to go viral: visible mending using handwoven samples and pin loom–woven shapes.

In the photo at top is a pair of jeans that I repaired using a cotton sample scrap. The rest of the sample was summer and winter so I imagine the part I used was some treadling idea I was playing with. I followed my usual patching routine of zigzagging the edges of the hole and the patch and then putting the patch on the inside of the pants and zigzagging them together. It can be hard to keep a patch in the right place, so rather than using pins, I use small bits of that iron-on sticky tape you can buy at the fabric store to anchor the patch.

This was never a great sweater, just one of those that you grab all the time because it works in lots of situations. And what’s weird is I like it better now!

Single pin loom–woven pieces seem almost destined to be small patches to me, but I didn’t foresee using a few of them together as I did for the sweater above. With store-bought sweaters, I don’t usually get small holes but seams that fall apart, and the one that is a big culprit is that one at the back of the neck. Often I can simply reseam with matching thread, but when I tried that on the cotton sweater, it didn’t look great. So, with visible mending in mind and a 1" hexagon loom, I wove six little gray and white hexagons using a soft cotton yarn. I used the tails to sew them together into a strip, and then sewed the strip on top of the ugly seam. On the inside I embroidered a row of chain stitch using embroidery cotton to cover the seam.

So there you have it. Visible mending for weavers! Is it trending yet?

Weave well,