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Posts Tagged ‘invisible repair’

As regular readers of my blog know, I prefer my mending visible and decorative as well as functional, and I love to be challenged to create something beautiful. However, occasionally I have to concede reluctantly that an invisible mend is more appropriate. A few weeks ago, I had not one, but two of concessions to make in my quest for the visible mend when I got the following commissions:

The Side Seam Rip

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A ripped side seam on the right

Sometimes the invisible mend is called upon, because of the nature of the damage. In the above example the side seam on the right was ripped. To be more precise, for the machine knitters amongst us, the linking thread had snapped, or hadn’t been fastened off properly. Linking is a way of “sewing up” seams of knitwear, often used in production knitting. The linker produces a chain stitch, so a quick and easy way to fix this, is to emulate a linker by means of a crochet hook and buttonhole thread.

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Invisible mend using a crochet hook

Invisible Mend: As Requested

And sometimes, it’s just what the owner wants. Here’s a gorgeous cardigan combining cables and yarns, by Lark Rising, a Brighton knitwear studio.

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Cardigan by Lark Rising

It’s a severe case of elbow fatigue! Although I could think of a few nice ways of performing a visible mend, Zoë preferred to go the invisible route.

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A hole right in the middle of a lace pattern

As I really enjoy lace knitting, I was up for the challenge. In fact, the more difficult part of this fix was not necessarily to work out how the stitches and eyelets were formed, but to try and make it blend in. It’s difficult to find the exact matching colour, and as the cardigan had been worn lots, the surface had started to full a little.

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Near invisible mend

By virtue of tripling up some crewel wool, I managed to get a close enough match of the colour and yarn thickness; and with some judicious brushing with a tooth brush I managed to raise the nap just enough to emulate the surface texture. When viewed from a distance the invisible mend blends in completely.

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Voila, an invisibly mended lace cardigan

However, this is not the only cardigan Zoë asked me to repair. Next week I’ll blog about the return of an old friend.

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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.

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