Patching it up.

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One of the things that I do quite a lot of is mending clothes. I really believe in not throwing clothes away when they break, but mending and re-making whenever possible. It makes you realise how quickly the clothes that looked good on the shop hanger deteriorate – in our awful culture disposable fashion, they’re only meant to look good long enough for you to buy them, get them home and wear them once. Almost all of my jeans (apart from the newest pair) have holes in the knees, which I’ve mended over and over usually with a bit of fusible interfacing on the inside and machine or hand stitching to secure it, and draw attention away from the hole make it look more interesting. Going through this process makes you more willing, when you go out to buy clothes (which I’m admittedly doing far, far less these days) to spend a bit more on something that you really like, if it’s likely to last longer. I know this is a familiar mantra on a lot of sewing and upcycling blogs, but if we repeat it often enough, perhaps one day you’ll be fully brainwashed ;)

There are a couple of blogs out there that deal with mending in new and exciting ways, one of which is Tom of Holland, which I find really inspirational in the methods that he uses to repair and add to the history of a garment. He’s far more experienced than me in his repair techniques, but as these things come up in my mending pile, I try to use some of the methods that he blogs about.

But to get to the point, a friend asked me a few months ago if I’d be able to knit some patches for her favourite cashmere jumper which had gone through the elbows in quite a big way. Here is a fuzzy photo of the larger hole:

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I was quite excited about this, as I saw this post from Karen Barbé a while back about weaving patches, and really wanted to try it out. But not having gone through any of my own elbows, I didn’t want to spend time on something that I didn’t have a use for (in this particular case, anyway!) I love the colours and patterns that she uses, and the little loom that she constructs with cardboard is so quick and easy to make. I thought that weaving would be more suitable for elbow patches than knitting as knitted fabric is much stretchier, and I didn’t want the patches to stretch out of shape and become baggy.

I had a few false starts with the weaving: first of all I tried using darning wool, but they were quite thin and flimsy, and the fabric of the jumper is thickish. I also made it too small for the hole. I expect the little patch will come in useful for something one day.

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So I moved up to sock wool, but the first patch I wove was too thick: I pushed each line of weft (right-left) up against the last one too hard so the weaving was quite dense. So with the next patch I held back on the compacting (I’m sure there’s a proper word for that!) and the patch came out just right. I went with simple stripes of random widths, one over one under, nothing fancy like herringbone, I’ll leave that for another time.

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I made the warp (up-down) threads the same colour as (or pretty close to) the colour of the jumper, and left a long length attached to sew the patches to the jumper.

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I sewed the patched in place with large blanket stitch. The patches aren’t subtle, why make the stitching subtle?

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