I had said to myself that I would work with my jeans for a year and just mend them as needed. However, I tore a ligament in my ankle falling down the stairs. Being on crutches led to those jeans being a bit tight. They're still in my cupboard as I am sure I will go back to them at some point. But in the meantime, I bought a pair of jeans so that I would have something I could actually wear comfortably.
And after almost daily wear for five months this new pair needed some mending.
I decided to go for a sashiko style mend. I watched and read as much as I could about it before I started. I was greatly disappointed by the lack of academic writings on the subject. I did only search for english papers which may have been the downfall, and textiles is a still-growing area of study thanks to the old hierarchy of art. I got to the point where I felt comfortable to start stitching. I chose sashiko mending as it is very durable. There is an additional layer of fabric and then running stitches of thick thread bind this to the clothing. It is also pretty in it's decoration and follows the idea of Kintsugi (being more beautiful having been broken as it is part of the history of the object).
I used a piece of thicker calico that I already had in my stash for embroidery. I did not have any sashiko thread so instead used 4 strands of embroidery cotton. I highly recommend that you use a thimble otherwise you will ruin your fingertips trying to pull the threads through. (There is a particular thimble for sashiko which I do not own, instead I used my normal one on the ring finger of my stitching hand.) I did not prewash my threads so I've left the tails in the jeans in-case they shrink in the first wash. They're in the washing machine right now. Fingers crossed my plan works...
In my first lines the stitches are very uneven and in the last lines, they are too big. It really is something that needs some practice! There is a little puckering which I had expected. You are mending them when they are not on your body so it will not match exactly. But it isn't uncomfortable or too tight.
I found it quite an enjoyable process, as I could just sit there with my stitching and an audiobook or doco on in the background. I was very nervous to wear these out because I had this silly notion that people would judge me for it, or might ask me question, when I am terrible at talking to strangers. Which was, of course, absolutely ridiculous. The only people that have commented have been my grandma and the friends/family that know about my mending projects.
And for those with access through school or work:
Japan Knowledge Library has a good definition by requires login
Mottainai: The Fabric of Life, Lessons in Frugality from Traditional Japan by Sasha Rabin Wallinger from Textile: Cloth and Culture, 2012
xo Kirsten Isabel