Sewing in a material world

Sewing in a material World - The Marvelous Michelina

I guess one of the first things my mom taught me about aside from cooking, was how to sew. I learned at a young age how to hand-sew projects and even took the requisite ‘home-economics’ class in high school. Do they even teach home-ec anymore?

Mom made sure that I understood the basics. For my sixteenth birthday, she bought me my first sewing machine and I was hooked. I taught myself to follow a pattern and altered clothes ala Molly Ringwald in Pretty in Pink. Some of my first clothing projects were a little rough and I definitely wouldn’t have tackled anything along the lines of a prom dress, but it gave me a great basis to try other projects. I soon found that I had an eye for making soft rag dolls and even designed a pattern or two. I think I still have them tucked away in my studio. I also found that I enjoyed making repurposed bags. I used any material that I thought would work. Vintage army bags, leather, canvas mailbags and vintage t-shirts are still among my favorites. I’ve also made a few Ruana wraps for myself.

Recently, I’ve also discovered the world of artful or visible mending. This was not the embroidery that I was taught as a child, so it was a compactly foreign concept to me. My mom had taught me that when you mend something it should be seamless and invisible. The thought of leaving the mended area visible for all to see wasn’t easy for me to grasp until I saw some of the beautiful work.

BORO OR SASHIKO DARNING – this technique is where you essentially patch a hole in a garment by using a piece of coordinating (or contrasting) fabric. This along with a running stitch (or combination of stitches) can create the most beautiful patterns and designs.

IRON-ON PATCH AND BLANKET STITCH – I recall my mom mending my dad’s jeans using this method although she didn’t add the blanket stitch. Iron-on patches can still be purchased at most fabric retail stores or you can create your own using using fusible webbing and complimentary fabric. This method requires you to affix the patch with a hot iron and then use embroidery thread and a simple blanket stitch to give a finished look to the patch.

PORTHOLES WITH AN EYELET STITCH – This visible mending technique is perfect for small holes in sweaters, blankets, t-shirts or the like. This techniques allows you to simply outline the hole in a neat eyelet stitch.

What are some of your favorite visible mending techniques?


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