The Unpredictable Geography of Mending

When I mend a pair of worn out jeans, I begin with the obvious damage, but often the threadbare places go uncharted until I begin patching – and soon another previously unnoticed area erupts under the needle.

My soul sometimes feels like a pair of worn-out jeans. Everything seems fine, then suddenly wherever I turn I’m faced with another threadbare place worn out from a lifetime of habitual defenses. With age the path of habit wears thin, again and again. I’m sad to find myself in the midst of this mess, this fragility, this mending.  I thought I fixed that in my 20’s and again in my 30’s. I wasn’t expecting this.

Mending is slow work and the fix is impermanent. Once mended, the object is put back into the service of everyday use. Taking the time to mend often feels like a pause from the excitement of creating something completely new. It’s meticulous work, and can be tedious.

What is the reward? I asked my boyfriend what he liked best about his mended jeans, “They are unique, nobody has a pair like them. I felt cared for, and my favorite pair of jeans was saved from oblivion.”

Mending charts an unpredictable, scarred, and transformed geography, on the surface of a favorite pair of jeans, and within the heart.

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36 Responses to The Unpredictable Geography of Mending

  1. Pingback: flicken, flickte, geflickt – to mend, mended, mended | Textil Journal

  2. Ann says:

    Just found your site via a friend. I’m wondering how you “patch” your jeans with the fabric under the jean? Your photo makes it look all hand stitched? Glued from underneath? I always have issues when I hand stitch with the patch underneath curling up on the inside of the jeans. Any suggestions?

    • Yes it is all hand stitched, without glue. Sometimes, but not usually with jeans, but with light weight materials I will use an iron on interfacing to secure my mending fabric in place. See this mending tutorial.

      I slip a paperback between the pants leg so that I have flat surface to sew on. I use a running stitch to baste down the edges. Afterwards I turn to the backside and trim off the excess.

  3. Pingback: Mending.. | boostitch

  4. Would love to also link it on my blog to a current post on mending – would like to ask if you think that would be ok?! Thank you

  5. Hi – I found you on the flickr The Big Mend Group! Have linked this onto my pinterest with a link to this post – hope I have done it correctly for you! Beautiful post

  6. Pingback: Monday’s Points of Pinterest: Creative mending « Black Cat Originals

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  8. Pingback: Mend It Better ~ Review & Giveaway

  9. Pingback: Wardrobe CPR: Shirts and Pants « Speckless Blog

  10. I love this! So many of my clothes are mended, and those are often the pieces I love and wear the most. From the brand-new shirt splattered with bleach that now sparkles with beading and applique, to the button-up shirt with blood stains that I covered with an embellished tree design. I am the most proud of the things that bear evidence of being loved, and loved enough to repair.

  11. Pingback: The unpredictable geography of mending « Green Tree Shopping Network

  12. bwilliams says:

    One of my favorite and most meditative ways to spend an afternoon is with a cup of coffee, my mending basket, and my front porch rocker. As I mend I contemplate life/God/nature with the music of the creek and the birds playing in the background. While I am stitching I feel connected to the generations of women who, whether of necessity or desire, mended and stitched for the people they love. My favorite thing to mend is socks. I have an antique darning egg that feels so good in my hands…sometimes I just pick it up so I can have its smooth heft in my palms. During the summers when I am not teaching I often take a small notebook with me, jotting down thoughts as they come…sometimes just free conciousness flow…othertimes poetry. Some of my best writing comes while I sit with my mending or a bit of handwork.

    • Sherri Lynn Wood says:

      BK, this is beautiful. Thanks. Is there anyway you can post an image in the comments of your antique darning egg?

  13. Heather says:

    I found you via Betsy Greer. Your work is beautiful and inspiring. I am an art therapist who is always interested in ways textiles can be used in a therapeutic way.

  14. Rachel says:

    Whoa… that’s gorgeous! I want to mess up some jeans now!

  15. Pingback: 5 Great Finds: Outdoor Movies, Paper Owls, BBQ Cupcakes, Creative Mending, Whoopie Pies | Juggling Motherhood

  16. Nanette says:

    I keep coming back to this post. It’s just delightful and I’m so enjoying your non-conventional take on quilting. Thanks!

  17. Kim says:

    Your photo makes me want to go home and find a holey pair of jeans…like right now. Hey, maybe I’ll hit the Goodwill and find some there! Thanks for the inspiration (I think)!

  18. Pingback: Friday Favorites :: June 18, 2010 « Homemakers Who Work

  19. Pingback: B1 with Earth » Blog Archive » News: The unpredictable geography of mending

  20. Pingback: The unpredictable geography of mending at EcoStreet - Green Consciousness

  21. Here via Curbly. Your mending reminded me a bit of the work of Victoria Gertenbach. http://thesillyboodilly.blogspot.com/
    Charming.

  22. Pingback: Jeans…Mended | My.BuzzCritic.com

  23. Pingback: Mending is Beautiful | Crocheting Site - Patterns, crochets

  24. Pingback: Mending is Beautiful | Crafts Kids :: Free Crafts Network

  25. How beautiful! Here for the first time via Craftzine.

  26. blair says:

    Yes, mending does lend itself well to geography and our meandering life paths. A great artistic metaphor.

  27. Sherri Lynn Wood says:

    I love that Vicki K mended her son’s jeans with his childhood shirt. I am sure there is so much history, and so many stories contained in that little patch!

    Since 2002 I have been working with people to make improvised quilts from the clothing and materials of everyday life. This practice developed into an active, hands-on, therapeutic process for working through life transitions that I call Passage Quilting. I haven’t incorporated it into this blog yet but I will be sharing more about this process soon.

  28. Sharon says:

    Found you via Whipup. That is the BEST mending job I’ve ever seen. Totally awesome-sauce!

  29. Vicki K says:

    I just mended my son’s jeans with a shirt that he wore when he was 4. That shirt was just His Shirt – the colors and style and casual degree was just Him. It gives me Huge Pleasure to see that patch of his old shirt (which still is Him) incorporated into his now best worn jeans.

  30. I know the feeling. I love mending my husband’s work pants. I feel needed, he loves that I can do it. I love the jeans. I have subscribed to your blog! Look forward to more.

  31. Tora says:

    Just found your blog via whip up and find myself deep in thought. I just finished Mary Karr’s LIT and there’s a similar vein running through here….interesting how things hit you at certain times on your life…I need to think about this more.

    Sometimes we need to be hit over the head before a thought sinks in. Love your blog and will add it to my faves!

  32. Sujata Shah says:

    When I was a little girl, my mom would ask me to mend something and my response would be like a typical teenager.. I hated mending.. I still don’t prefer it. I did not mind helping her figuring out patterns for her blouse etc. but mending never seemed interesting and fun.
    You made it so creative and beautiful! I am going to have to try this for sure! It definitely makes the garment special!
    I loved your hand dyed fabrics by the way… They are gorgeous!

  33. alex says:

    I really love the wabi-sabi feel of it. I’ve always loved mending. I’ve always thought of it as topography, but I like your description of geography better. We all travel through life in our clothes.

  34. NiCoLe says:

    Very cool mending on the jeans. I really hate mending stuff, just like you said, it can be hard work, and I’d rather be creating something new. But, your picture has inspired me to make mending more interesting. It doesn’t have to be invisible. Mending can be beautiful too.

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