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From My Sewing Room: Visible Mending

Updated: Mar 20, 2023

When it comes to quilts, flaws in my sewing don't bother me too much-- assuming there's some way to fix them!

I see quilts as a story and if they need a little bandaid at some point then that's just part of the story. And these two quilts definitely needed a little fixing!

This particular quilt lives on our bed. Its story began in early 2019 when I started snow dyeing some fabrics to include in it. I worked on it for a few months and then put it away before breaking it out again in March of 2020 and finishing it in an early pandemic haze.

Given my mental state as I finished the last steps, it was no surprise there were some issues and after the first washing I saw a couple of seam pops coming through. Being deep in remote learning and grocery sanitizing I didn't have much more energy to devote beyond putting in a safety pin and hoping for the best.

Fast forward 3 years later and I found myself laying around in bed with a sick kid bingeing Next in Fashion (she's rooting for Bao, I was all about Megan) and decided it was finally time to do something about it!

My first step was to whipstitch the gap with all purpose polyester thread. I want back and forth a few times to make it extra secure. There's tricks to hide the stitches but I was going for the "well loved and mended" look and now it looks like a little scar.

Whipstitch mending on a colorful quilt

Obviously I could have left it there. The whipstitch is doing the dirty work of keeping the pieces together but I felt like the story needed a little more. A whipstitch looks like a made a mistake but if I added some additional stitching I could pretend it was all part of a greater plan!

Thanks to Rachel Barclay's Sashiko classes at the studio I had just enough know how to overlay a fun sashiko pattern using perle cotton. My original plan had been to use the stitches to cover my whipstitch scar, but in the end I was worried that poking more holes in that spot would cause greater fraying down the road so I surrounded it instead. Now each patch is a fun little decoration and extra texture--- if you're going to have issues with your sewing you may as well lean into them!

Sashiko visible mending on a colorful quilt

If you're going to be taking on Sashiko for visible mending I highly recommend getting one of these stencils from Miniature Rhino. Rachel turned me on to them and it makes charting out your grid SO much easier then just measuring with a ruler. And I don't usually recommend using number 2 pencil but the Clover pencils just weren't cutting it for this project!

Mending a colorful quilt using Miniature Rhino sashiko stencil

So after 2 episodes of Next in Fashion and the quilt all done I went hunting for other projects to work on and realized my quilt coat had started to look a little frayed and could benefit from the sashiko touch.

My number one problem here is that I made a white coat. I was definitely thinking more about the artistry when planning this one than the function. I'm not sure where I thought I was in my life that a white coat wouldn't get filthy every single time I wear it. So with that, this coat ends up in the wash a ton and, unfortunately, the main star just didn't have the seam allowance to support that much washing.

(Let's be honest--- I will never be at a point in my life where I don't destroy a white coat. This was clearly aspirational!)

Clare quilt coat from white linen and paper pieced stars with perle cotton sashiko visible mending

My goal had been to have the sashiko overlap some of the center and off to the side but apparently I drew the grid out nearly, but not entirely, dead center and didn't notice it until it was all done. I may add a little more and extend it off the left a little so it doesn't just look like a poorly centered square!

paper pieced star quilt with coral perle cotton sashiko mending

I love the texture and little bit of oomph that the sashiko adds to the mending. It all becomes part of the story and I'll just keep on mending these projects until they're more thread than fabric if I have to!

If you take on some visible mending and post be sure to tag us @hartfordstitch so I can check it out!

Happy Stitching!


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