Mending mayhem

Sewing Save Series: Katrine of Mending mayhem presents a mending topic each month, based on her many years of mending. Mending is part of her daily life and not just mending clothes. Mending is done with love. Mend don’t spend

Katrine’s work space built with thrifted materials

Friday 6 November 2020: Katrine of Mending Mayhem discusses 4 mending techniques and refers to great menders across the globe.

Katrine discusses four handy mending techniques
Katrine’s amazing work

Here is the transcript of her podcast:

Today we are looking at 4 different mending techniques – Sashiko, embroidery, sewing patches and applique. Visible mending is a fun creative way to preserve clothes. There are so many fun techniques to choose from.  Mend don’t spend.


Sashiko is an old Japanese way of decorating and mending clothes. Sashiko means little stabs.

From what I have learned, Sashiko seems to refer to the stitching process itself, whilst Boro is the final textile result of patching and repetitive Sashiko stitching. Together they form a unique textile visible mending art piece.

Most people I know creating visible mending know more about Sashiko than I do. You can find Sashiko used in many forms from the simple running stitches back and forth through a patch, to intricate patterns.

Common motifs were originally inspired by natural surroundings like ocean waves, mountain peaks, and fields of grass-resulting in concentric circles and geometric patterns with poetic names such as persimmon flower or pine bark.

Simple tools are used – a long needle, heavy weight cotton thread, and a Sashiko thimble.

To avoid any discussions about how my work follows or doesn’t follow the traditional techniques and tools, I always say my mending is Sashiko-inspired. After all I’m a maker and an artist so I may not following rules as a true Sashiko expert. And I like to use whatever I have at hand. To be honest I have never owned any Sashiko threads or thimbles. And I’m horrible in sewing straight lines but I am very talented in making uneven stitches and I often cheat a bit too. Luckily there are some people that are way better with Sashiko than me and I enjoy seeing their work.

Mending Mayhem Collage on Wednesday 4 November 2020

My hardest task each week is choosing who to feature in the Wednesday Mendingmayhem collage. It’s difficult because there is so much good work on Instagram and on blogs.

Kristy’s work – Mended linen trousers using Sashiko, by Kirsty. 

Kirsty from @spiderweavestudio Who was guesting for Mendingmayhem  back in October is making some beautiful Sashiko mending.

Amazing rice flowers stitch on a linen top to strengthen it, by Kirsty.

Selina from @selinaam05 shares traditional Sashiko knowledge. She will be coming on to the podcast this month too.

Friday 13 November 2020: This month’s mending guest for Mending Mayhem is Selina. It is a bit silly how I created the name: everything was taken for Selina, so I added “am” (Amsterdam); it was also taken, at the end I added “05” because 5 is my favourite number😉

Selina talks about how sashiko is her covid hobby
Created by Selina
Jeans mended with a cat patch, beautiful work by Selina. 
Beautiful shirt mending by Selina 
Beautiful patch stitched with traditional sashiko pattern. By Selina.

She also found inspiration from Lindsay @lindzeanne. Very talented textile artist living in Japan . Lindsay uses sashiko inspired work in her art using recycled materials   and actually one of the first guest post at Mendigmayhem . She has a lot of impressive work, and some handstitched beads that are totally amazing.

Also, I would like to mention Eva Kittelsen from @myvisiblemend you will find her earlier work over at @Evakittelsen Norwegian textile artist who uses a bit of Sashiko in her mending.

Pile of beautiful mended trousers and jeans by Eva 
Mending by Eva Fabulous embroidery knee mend, embellished with sequins, by Eva. 
Eva mending in public on the subway in Oslo. 
Bees for Eva’s husband’s stained nice shirt 
Isn’t this brilliant! 

Eva also has a lot of gorgeous and breath-taking embroidery mends. Caring a lot about sustainability and the environment. Aso she does mend in public. It’s a great way to get people interested in the mending movement.


Embroidery has existed, in many forms, in every population across the globe. Whether it’s displayed on clothing, home goods, or as an artwork, embroidery is a timeless craft and is an essential part of our material culture.

The definition of embroidery is the art of applying decorative designs onto fabric using a needle.

Menders often use embroidery to cover up a hole or hide stains or simply to embellish their work. There are a lot of different stitches to choose from and so many ways to use it. I seem to have been using embroidery many times recently. I used to prefer to use my sewing machine for mending, as it’s much faster. Now I have found myself enjoying hand stitching more and more. It’s something about the quietness and the slow process that makes you unwind and relaxed.

What tools you need to embroidery mend?

Embroidery thread – Cotton or wool depending on what material you are mending.
A pair of embroidery scissors
An embroidery hoop can be helpful
If you are making a pattern or design you might need a tailor’s chalk pencil or a transfer paper.
Beads or sequins can be added for more decoration.

I like to make embroidery patches and sew them on after I’m done with the motif often using running stitches creating a Sashiko like pattern.

Katrine’s patches

Since I used to make a lot of jewellery in the past, I tend to use beads in some of my embroidery because I still have a lot of them and they do look good on some garments. Like the sweater I’m still working on for my Mum. You have to make sure to attach the beads securely. I use a double sewing thread, and small stitches.

Katrine’s bead work
One of Jen and Wendy’s work. Denim skirt embroidered with woven wheels by Jen and Wendy 
You will find a tutorial on how to make this in their tutorial Here
Patched and embroidery mend by Jen and Wendy.
Kitty apron mend by Jen and Wendy. 
Beautiful pocket mend with embroidery by Jen and Wendy.

Techniques are often used mixed when you create visible mending. The techniques are all determined by the artist. I might have mentioned the sisters Jen and Wendy from @bostonandyork earlier, but they are defiantly worth mentioning again as they have so many brilliant stitching tutorials on their profile. And a lot of beautiful mending and embroidery.

Beautiful unicorn patch embroidery by Vera 
Amazing fox embroidery on hat by Vera 
Chicken instead of a hole by Vera from @reparierenistliebe
Amazing embroidery badger on hat by Vera 
Embroidery on favorite sweater by Vera.

Vera from @reparierenistliebe mostly use embroidery in her mending and she does it very well. Inger from @ingerfrimodig also has a bit of embroidery work, even a pair of garden gloves.

Inger’s tea towel mend
Even Inger’s garden gloves needs a bit of embroidery mending
Inger mends everything, even her floor cloth


Big butt patching by Katrine

Patching could simply be placing a patch to cover a hole. You can apply the patch either on the inside of the garment or outside. There are many ways to use a patch. You can make it stand out or try to make it almost invisible. I think most people will be familiar to patching a hole. And it might sound a bit dull.

What tools you will need to patch a hole?
Sewing thread or embroidery thread
Or a sewing machine if you prefer.
Patches from fabric, you can use other worn-out clothes to make patches.
A few pins to secure the patch in the right place.
Fusible interfacing

I do recommend the patch fabric is somewhat similar to the fabric in your garment.
The patch needs to be bigger than the hole, and sometimes there will be weak areas around the hole so you might want to make a much larger patch to prevent a new holes to emerge.

Remember, you will need to secure the edges of your patch before attaching it. This can be done using zig-zag stitches using a sewing machine or use fusible interfacing or you can fold in the edges of the hole.

Sewing by hand you can use blanket stitch around the edges. This can be done while sewing the patch onto the garment.

Some fabric won’t fray for example knit fabric don’t fray easily and so you don’t need to secure edges for holes in knit fabrics.

Patch sewing tips

Pin the patch in place and start sewing it on.  Either by hand or machine.

Often jeans and trousers will get a hole in the knee and it’s difficult to get to by using your sewing machine. A good tip is to open the side seem a bit to get better access, then sew it back when you are done.

Another good tip is to use motifs from old clothes as a patch. Children often have favourites and then they grow out of their clothes. And they do often appreciate having their clothe patched with their outgrown garments.

Well loved jeans patched by Erin. New patch will soon be added

Talking about patching we must mention Erin from @gatherwhatspills who hosted the #mendmakefriends patch swap and uses a lot of patches in her mending

Knee mend by Erin
Erin keep her mending supplies in small baskets and pouches so everything is portable. That way she can just grab a bag and a project and work on her mending everywhere.

Marte form @marte.unikumdesigen often uses worn out or outgrown clothes for patches and also Hanne from @bananasandgreen

Marte is mending
Marte used an old night gown to mend this leggings.
Band aid or in this case a patch covering a hole.
Clothes repair from Marte in use.
Hanne’s work. Well worn denim shirt with elbow patches in silk.
Silk leftovers passed down from a friend
Pants mended using patches from old clothes. Hanne like to use what she already have. 
Patched jeans by Hanne

Candy @heartfulstitches is very often also using patches, and likes to attach pockets to everything. You can’t mention Candy without talking about her marvellous post stamp quilt.  #candyspoststampquilt Hand stitched from tiny pieces of fabric, embroidery quotes from her children, family sayings, memories, jokes, songs and drawings. Last time I checked it had around 3,350 pieces.

Candy’s quilt
Candy loves pockets and if something doesn’t have pockets she will make some. 
Candy’s marvellous poststampquilt. 

Marissa from @andwearis often makes a little applique from some of her patches. That girl seems to be able to reuse anything.

A bag that had a big stain on it, so Marissa covered it with these cuties.
Marissa’s son’s sweatpants that have both knees mended, and the monkey initially was just the head, but she had to add the body when a new hole appeared. These pants have lasted over 2 years on an active boy thanks to mends!!


Applique is a technique where pieces of material are attached to a larger piece of material, often in a decorative pattern. These patterns can include lettering, geometric shapes, or images. Often, the two materials used will contrast in type, colour, and/or texture so that they can be easily differentiated.

Common applique fabrics include felt, fleece, and quilting cotton, but applique can be accomplished with almost any material! Applique is often used to add colour, texture, or embellishment to a piece. This is a very fun technique and you can make almost anything you like.

Raven mend on leggings, hand stitched and decorated with a little embroidery by Katrine
Well worn fleece jacket got some applique birds and a cat to hide wear and stains

I used to create appliques when I first started to mend, but not so much lately, I think I need to revisit this technique again. You can use applique directly on your mending project or make a patch with it first.

Bag mended with a applique patch

I think it’s a good way to mend t-shirt or leggings’ where you don’t need any backing on the fabric pieces. This techniques does need a bit of work if you are cutting out small pieces and iron on interfacing. The motif can be sewn on by hand or machine

Stephanie from @swoodsonsays uses a lot of applique in her mending. Making unique pieces of garment that is often better than the original.

Bunny knee mend by Stephanie.
Mending kids clothes by Stephanie

You also have the reversed applique technique there you put a piece of fabric underneath, draw a motif on the top stitching around and cut out the top fabric. It can be a bit tricky to use for mending as the motif must fit the hole or stain. And it works better with t-shirt fabric or non-fraying fabric.

By Katrine
The full effect by Katrine

I have used it for mending leggings and t-shirts.

Katrine is a true textile artist

Friday 9 October 2020: Katrine of Mending Mayhem provides her tips for buying second hand notions and fabric. You’ll save money and lessen the impact on the environment.

Friday 9 October – Buying second hand notions and fabrics

Friday 18 September 2020: Katrine of Mending Mayhem is back from her Summer break. Katrine discusses this week’s visible mending collage and the basics of mending.

Friday 18 September 2020: Mending Mayhem are back from their Summer break.
Mending Mayhemmers weekly collage 16 September 2020

Use our #mendingmayhem and your mending have a chance to be featured next week.
Here are the Mending Mayhemmers for 16 September 2020:
🧵@lorenz.cherry for amazing and well done tapestry circle on the back of a coat 🧥 ⭕❤️
🧵@judymerrillsmith for a much patched hoodie, it’s just gorgeous Judy 💕 😍
🧵@dithyramber for making waves with a sailboat ⛵ mend on jeans 👖 it’s such a brilliant mend Heather 👏 ❤️
🧵@eseartstudio Eric always comes up with creative solutions. We just love the dragonfly keeping your much loved hat together 🎩❤️
🧵@ruthannsmalley mending the back of a denim shirt 👚 with a gorgeous dandelion ❤️nice stitching Ruth 👌❤️
🧵@swoodsonsays despite her love for patches Stephanie went for a embroidery mend this time. We love your flower 🌸, good choice 👏❤️
🧵@alexonver for very colourful and fresh darning denim 🌈❤️you work with the darning loom is amazing Alex 👌
🧵@schneckstein Uli are impressing us with her beautiful bike 🚲 mend on socks 🧦 ❤️
Well done everyone 🎉💫🎉
Thank you all for using our #mendingmayhem and for contributing to the mending community ❤️
Keep up the good work.

Darning is an easy skill to get your mending skills started. Here are darning techniques supplied by Katrine.

 The pictures above show how the darning loom is used. Roberta Cummings has a very good tutorial in her Instagram highlights

Other types include Pick up stitches for knit fabrics, Scottish darning, Finnish darning and Japanese stitches.

Darning tools: These are your easy to find tools- Darning needles, blended threads, darning mushroom and access to darning tutorials.

Katrine’s darning tip: Katrine suggests that when you’re darning wool fabrics, use a blended yarn to ensure your darning lasts longer.

This is a link to a Scottish darning technique by Marlene Meiners @milli_and_the_bee She also has a link to Swiss darning technique and Duplicate stitch. Thank you for your permission to link to your darning tutorial Marlene.

Mending mayhem
Mending Mayhem part 1 for Sewing Save Series 21 August 2020

Sewing Save Series: Part 2 with Katrine and Suzie is about mending and cherishing memories. The mending examples that Katrine and Suzie discussed in part 2, clearly link mending to wonderful memories. Making sure we avoid adding to landfill is top of mind when mending but the mending driving force for Katrine is all about saving wonderful memories.

Part 2: Mending and memories

Every item has more than one life and mending is an everyday part of their lives.

The visible mending movement has over 76,000 IG posts. Mend March is another great hashtag to follow.

‘Mend don’t spend’

An important aspect of mending is that you can’t go wrong with visible mending. There is no right or wrong way to mend visibly. Visible mending is all about what you like, or want, or how you want to give new life to your clothing/shoes/accessories.

Visible mending is achievable for everyone. You don’t have to be skilled in a craft. You do need to be creative but again, that’s your personal preference and when you follow Mending Mayhem, or any mending hashtag, you can find many mending options to choose from for your needs.

Evelyn Woods is a big supporter of Monday Mending. Wednesday collage of mending from the previous week and a guest post on a Friday. Button swap was a huge hit this year. Morrissews or Tricia has helped Katrine and Suzie run the A to Z of mending.

Over 4,000 Instagram followers agree Mending Mayhem is a fun and friendly mending community. And you can follow mending community on the Mending Mayhem group on Facebook and the Mending Mayhem blog. Katrine also posts her mending projects on their personal Instagram accounts. Katrine posts on her blog as well. Mending Mayhem were mentioned in a news article about mending in The Guardian.


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