Another Invisible Mend – With a Visible Mend at the End

Unexpectedly, I have performed another invisible mend recently. Zoë, who commissioned me to visibly mend her green cardigan, had another hole in her wardrobe. She has a gorgeous vintage Acquascutum coat with Princess Anne style sleeves, which she found for a mere £25 in a charity shop. The day before she collected her green cardigan, she was stood at the bus stop and realised there was an enormous hole in the side.

She hadn’t a clue how this has happened. She doesn’t recall getting it caught on something, but the lining has worn through in the same spot, so I suspect the previous owner used to wear a handbag that has continuously rubbed against the coat. In the end, it must just have given up. It was a heartbreaking hole in a once-in-a-life-time charity shop find. There was also a torn pocket flap corner:

What to do with that? I felt that somehow this coat would not improve with a visible mend. It’s too tailored and has very much its own personality, and I felt that a visible mend would distract too much from what makes this such a beautiful coat. So there was only one solution: invisible mending.

I wanted to use a Tailor’s Patch, as this would allow me to line up the weave, so that the patches would blend in; it would also make a strong repair. In order to do this, I had to harvest some material from the coat itself, from which to make patches for the hole and the pocket corner. I took this from the interfacing of the right side front:

Following the instructions from my little mending bible* to the letter, I cut the hole into a square, turned the edges in, lined up the patch behind it, matched the grain, and then sewed it in place. Quite frankly, I was more than a little concerned when I saw how this turned out:

How was this ever going to turn out to be INVISIBLE? Somewhat disheartened I continued the instructions in the Tailor’s Patch chapter. And lo and behold, after pressing open seams, the little magic that is called ‘rantering the seams’, more pressing and a final brushing up of the nap, this mend is indeed nearly invisible:

After this success, I turned to the pocket corner. I quote from the Mend It! book:

This tailoring repair presents considerable difficulty. Unless you are confident of your skill in working on a small area in an awkward corner, take it to a professional repairer. A whole suit can be made unwearable by such conspicuous damage[.] (Goldsworthy 1979, p. 163)

Does having only ever done one Tailor’s Patch count towards being confident in my skill in working on a small area in an awkward corner? There was only one way to find out:

Dear readers, after these early successes in my career as invisible mender, I could return to my true love of visible mending. The hole I had to create in the interfacing for the patches would need covering up as well. I first tried to find some fabric in a near match, but of course this proved impossible. A near match in colour jarred so much, I felt justified in using some contrasting salt-and-pepper tweed:

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you an invisibly mended vintage Aquascutum wintercoat:


*) Goldsworthy, M. (1979). Mend it! a complete guide to clothes repair. London: Book Club Associates.

18 Replies to “Another Invisible Mend – With a Visible Mend at the End”

  1. Yea! such beautiful work.
    It makes me think of how I describe my husband as extremely talented when it comes to wood and building and he poo-poos that he is not talented but I always tell him that his talent is he is not afraid to read up on a projects and then let all caution fly out the door and do it. Many people are so afraid of failure they never give themselves a chance to try.
    back to your mending though beautifully done!! although I have a certain fondness for the visible patches ; )

  2. next time , take the patch from the button side of the facing–the button hole (top) tends to fly open more and the salt and pepper patch ends up more visible.

    (since the button side (vs the button hole side) changes with mens/womens clothes, its easier to define as button side(vs button hole side)

    but beautiful mending!

  3. Thank you all for your compliments.

    Helen, thanks also for the tip on where to get the patch material from, duly noted for my next job.

    Jan, I’m not 100% sure if a Princess Anne sleeve is an official term, but that’s what my friend who owns the coat calls them. She means that these are cropped sleeves, which is not apparent as seen on the hanger. But yes, it has raglan shoulders.

  4. nice job, but at the risk of being picky, you cut the patch from the front facing The grey stiffener behind it is the interfacing.

    1. Ellen, I always get those facings front and back and interfacing terms mixed up. Shows you I’m a knitter at heart, not a sewer. Although I hope to learn more about sewing this year.

  5. Lovely, Tom. And so brave.

    Have found some serious darning jobs here which I am determined to tackle as a Lenten task. Who exactly might be the patron saint of darning I wonder? St Clare (embroiderers): or St Catherine, she of the wheel (haberdashers)? The latter seems possibly the braver of the two.

  6. It is a beautiful job. By rentering, do you mean copying the weave of the tweed using thread, to blend the patch in with the surrounding fabric? I like the stealth of this invisible mend, but also the exuberance of the visible, salt-n-pepper tweed. Your mending book has some good tips, I reckon. I love the job you did on the pocket, too.

    1. Rantering of the seam is a very nifty way of blending in the two sides of the seam to make it invisible. After seaming, you fold the cloth on the seam and then you do what resembles mattress stitch for joining up knit pieces, but instead you take one or two strands from one side of the seam and then from the other. Once finished, you open up the seam and you run your needle tip over the seam to fluff it up slightly.

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