This is my first project directly inspired by the techniques in Mending Matters.
Mend the pocket of my coat, which had developed a big hole from carrying keys. The fabric of the pocket (as well as the lining) is cotton so it wears more quickly than a synthetic would. Both coat pockets have holes, so I chose to repair the easier one first. The coat is only partially lined and thus the pocket bags are very accessible.
Why I chose to mend it when I did
I’ve had holes in both pockets for years now and just worked around it. I could often get away with not taking my keys at all because my partner and I were both working from home. If we went out together, he’d take his keys and I’d leave mine behind.
He has since gotten a job that’s not only out of the house but out of the city, and suddenly I had to carry keys again. I was tired of the workarounds that I’d used when he’d been away studying before, which was usually throwing the keys into my fabric tote bag (I don’t carry a purse). But then the keys are at the bottom of the bag and possibly bruising the fruit and vegetables I’d just bought.
This mend is visible in the sense that I chose non-blending fabric and thread for the repair, but only if I show it off because this area is of course ordinarily hidden inside the coat.
For my patch, I used a scrap of robust cotton twill that was originally from a project I’d made many years ago for my partner. I chose it for practical reasons, but I found that connecting this project for me to that older one for him was also rather satisfying.
I’d cut the left edge previously by following threads. The new chalk marks are square and show just how off-grain the fabric is. That’s not too surprising though, as twill often skews like this. I left the selvage on because it avoids a raw edge (helpful with an area that gets a lot of wear) and the different weight and tension of that bit of fabric wouldn’t cause any problems.
Usually when I apply a patch, I’ll glue it in place using an ordinary glue stick so that it doesn’t shift while I’m stitching. But that’s usually for jeans or other clothes that are getting washed and I’m not sure whether the glue would cause problems if it stays in indefinitely. This time I skipped the glue and tried the safety-pinning method shown in the book.
The safety pins worked just fine, but I still prefer gluing. I made sure to put the right side of the fabric facing out.
As luck would have it, I was in Japan in November and when I was at a large department store with a great craft and sewing section I remembered that I was considering trying out sashiko embroidery. At the time I was envisioning the classic white-on-indigo look, so rather than availing myself of the good range of colours they had (where do you start? where do you stop?), I just bought one skein of white to try it out.
I considered using that white cotton sashiko thread here but found that it looked a little harsh with the fabrics of the coat and patch — the lining fabric is a slightly warm grey. So I chose a cream-coloured cotton embroidery floss instead, which I found to be much more complementary, and the tint is so subtle that it still reads as white. Yes, the floss has a bit of sheen that the sashiko thread doesn’t but it’s not noticeable unless you’re looking for it.
All of the stitching was done with three strands of floss. The rectangle is the first part to be completed as its function is to secure the patch. I did the bacteria-like mend next, and rather than whip-stitching according to the book, I did a blanket stitch. The finished look is almost the same, but the blanket stitch effectively outlines the hole in thread which gives it a little more protection from wear. Because I’ve done more blanket stitching than whip-stitching, I also find it easier to do evenly. Finally, I threw in a few gratuitous lines of stitching because (a) I like how it looks, and (b) it gives a little more stability to the “white space” of the patch.
I’ve had this coat (and its twin — that’s another story) for many years already and had been idly thinking of a succession plan since it is (they are) showing a fair amount of wear. But wear is love, and now I’m inclined to keep it (them) on the road as long as I can.