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Its been a lovely relaxing couple of weeks since not allowing myself any serious knitting.  I have had a pile of  linen shirts & pants staring me down that have been needing patches, and in recent days I finally attended to the chore. Actually, its not a chore at all, mostly it is an opportunity to be creative. I am refining my patching technique to using the “pad stitch”, effectively stitching the layer with a hole against a patch layer, and learning that this pad stitching thing really strengthens the all over fabric from the back of the work, while keeping the little tacks of thread in front looking as artful as can be, nearly like sashiko. With a back stitch around the perimeter of the patch, so that in front it looks like little bead stitches, but again, it is all quite well fastened as it has a lot of thread running along the back. Ironing well between each step, I find the fabric grain stays straight much better too.  And while I only demonstrate an outside facing patch, it would of course be much more couture if a second patch were placed on the inside of the shirt, pad stitching through all three layers and sandwiching the actual shirt layer between so no raw edges of the hole ever would show on the inside,  but I’m just not that fussy.  If you click the 1st image in the mosaic, you will see the steps and stitching . . .

This is my first patch I’ve used linen thread on linen fabric, and I am smitten with the feel, and the look of it. It is a little thicker, but more pliable, and works fine with linen.  Oh, and I have a thing about linen going way back in archives, and so that most of my clothes I’m wearing are linen, and Irish linen is my favorite linen of all linens.  This is an Irish linen shirt .  . crisp and long wearing . . . just an old gardening & hiking shirt which has many patches all over it, but worth every one, some patches overlapping patches, because it is lasting me quite a long time. After the wildfire I ended up buying mostly used linen clothes on ebay, really affordable , but also the odd thing is I’m not really comfortable in new clothes anymore.   So the great thing is that I could say I’ve gotten a lot of practice developing my mending methods — I swear by pad stitching! — and going for the element of very functional as well as the artfulness of nice hand-stitching.

Artful Patches

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These days when I take a needle & thread to mend,

I attempt to do something artful.

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Becoming intimately involved with warp & weft in the fabric of something that you wear on your skin is beautiful,

and maybe even a little bit essential.

It is such a novelty these days it seems,  to have any skills at all in mending.

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Do you recall this  linen shirt make-over from nearly two years ago?  You might recognize the collar re-do,  and already I have nearly worn a hole in the linen,  and this is just a fun patch job of it, although the white-on-white is not really easy to see the detail, especially in this early morning light.

I have a second shirt I’m patching here,  that is full of holes, and I am using it to practice my new ‘quilt patching’ technique.

Here is what I do:

  1. Whip stitch hole shut, aligning grain of warp & weft  threads as much as possible.
  2. Cut squares of new fabric on the grain, big enough to fold back up to 1/4 inch hem on all edges.
  3. Iron all edges to fold in, and pin to garment with care to aligning grain of fabric with both garment and patch.
  4. With a simple running stitch, sew as close to edge as possible, then again, artfully fill in the patch with shapes, ‘quilting’ the patch against garment, which improves wear of patch as well as looks good. Almost as if you stuck on squares to quilt for the pure craft of it!

Quite a hash of patches, but it makes the shirt all that much more of a treat to wear again!

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Just in case you’re curious, you can see all posts “New From Old”  HERE (including this one, but scroll down!)  This category has grown over the years, sharing  artful mending & upcycling that I have done, where even I go deep into the warp & weft and try my hand at difficult weave darning.

I hope you try the quilted patch on one of your holey shirts, and see how useful as well as lovely a simple running stitch can be!

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