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The Art of Visible Mending Proves No Clothing Is Beyond Saving

It’s not an overstatement to say that mending changed me. What started as a simple act of self-sufficiency—learning to repair my jeans—grew into an act of love, resistance, reclaiming, creative expression, self-acceptance, disruption, activism, and more. The huge turning point—my light-bulb moment—was when I realized I could use my background as an artist to apply simple design elements to the repairs on my jeans.

I use basic stitches in my repair work because I want the stitches to be accessible to all the students in my workshops, regardless of their experience with sewing or embroidery. I also use basic stitches because they are often all I need. Adding more decorative stitches is always an option, one I leave to the maker. But I like to remind folks that if your repairs are in hard-wearing places on your garment—like the upper thighs of your jeans—they are going to continue to receive friction and ultimately tear again. This is an opportunity to remember that mending is an ongoing process. Each repair is also an opportunity to strengthen our designs. Sometimes we might want to save decorative stitches for areas that receive less direct friction. But, again, that’s up to you.

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