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Patchwork Denim and Indigo

I finished a project this week that had been sitting around in the mending pile for quite some time. I thought it would be fun to share the story with all of you.

Once upon a time, there were 3 teenage girls that were the best of friends. They grew up together, became roommates after college, and now are strong, beautiful women living their best life. This jacket was cherished and worn by all 3 for so many years that the sleeves were literally only hanging on by a thread. Though they live in different cities now, the jacket has a new chance at life, thanks to some creative patching. The End.

I later found out that the jacket had a name - "Jeanie" (of course!) - which makes me even more happy that I finally got around to mending her!

And now for the behind-the-scenes:

I decided to practice on a pair of my own jeans, that seem to have a hole that kept on giving. It started out with a wee little hole made by the manufacturer, but over the past couple of years it had become a bit too big for a 60 year old to pull off.

I pulled out some lovely scraps of Indigo fabrics that I had been saving and a creamy color of 12 wt Egyptian Cotton thread by Wonderfill. It is called Spagetti Thread, which is easy to remember. I pinned the patch in place, just enough to add a running stitch all the way around the denim, right before the fraying began. I tried to stitch into more of a square, than a circle. That way, when you begin crossing the stitches in both directions, it looks like it belongs!

A little bit of stitching horizontally, and then turning to stitch vertically, and I had it figured out! As you know by now, those bits of fray are like gold to me, so I tried to keep as much in place as I could to give it personality.

Alright, practice work complete. Now, I was ready for Jeanie!

I tackled the easy patch first, which was pretty straight forward. There were a lot of threads still attached, so I had a chance to play with how to keep them in the project. Choosing my cream colored thread made that pretty easy. I just tacked them down as I stitched.

As you can see, there was no precision stitching here. I didn't want a "perfect" look, so I opted to not mark any guidelines. I like the scrappiness it lends to the job.

It was a bit more of a challenge to figure out how to reconstruct the second sleeve. I did mention it was held on by only the seam allowance, right? I wish I would have taken "before" photos. It was pretty pathetic. Jeanie looked like she had severed a limb.

I followed the same steps as in the first patch, but decided to insert one long strip all the way around the sleeve. Not that I really had any other choice.

To complicate matters, it did not end or begin in the same spot, so a bit of creative stitching was in order to make it work. I made my patch extra wide, and then shifted it diagonally a bit, to do the trick. This one took quite a few more pins than the first sleeve.

It also took a bit longer to finish, but was a fun challenge!

What tips do I have to share?

Messy is good, embrace the fray. (Yes, this is my mantra nowadays.)

Realize that the bigger the patch, the more movement comes into play. Try to take advantage of the bias in your patch by shifting it horizontally a bit.

When patching a sleeve or a pant leg, you won't be able to use a hoop, so pick a time to work on this when you are relaxed and not in a hurry. There is a lot of turning and rotating directions involved.

The weight of the thread, and the size and type of the stitches that you use, are totally at your discretion. Think about what is comfortable for you, and how you want the end result to look.

Most of all - have fun and go with the spontaneity of the moment.

Hugs and Stitches,


1 Comment

Jeanie Low
Jeanie Low
Jun 18, 2022

CONGRATS! The rural Japanese armers had a stitching of rags to mend holes with stitches. Your piece reminds me of that stye.



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