Visible mending is a quietly subversive craft. In some ways it is the antithesis of fast fashion – rejecting the notion of clothes as disposable and instead investing time and care into your garments, attempting to preserve them for as long as possible.
Unlike its close friend invisible mending, visible mending celebrates the wear and tear that comes from loving your clothes down to their seams. It draws attention to and celebrates the act of mending. Like the oft-metaphorised Japanese practice of kintsugi, mending broken pottery with gold, visible mending transforms clothes into a unique work of art shaped by your life and love.
The more you think about it, the nicer it gets, and it’s often quite pretty too, so here are some leaders in the visible mending movement to slip into your feed. May their posts entertain, educate and maybe even inspire you to pick up a needle and give it go yourself.
Lily Fulop – a designer, illustrator and author of Wear, Repair, Repurpose – runs an Instagram, called @mindful_mending, where she posts her own and a curated range of other peoples’ mends, makes and upcycles. It’s a great resource to see a wide range of clever and cute visible mending techniques and ideas, as well as a good starting point to find other makers’ accounts whose style you vibe with.
Ethical Scottish knitwear creator Flora Collingwood-Norris champions the art of visible mending as part of her waste reduction philosophy. Her work in the arena has been so popular that she has since published a book, Visible Creative Mending for Knitwear, and teaches mending courses in-person and online. Her Instagram (@visible_create_mending) showcases her serious skillz at saving sweaters. The woman turns darning into a darn art.
Keiko and Atsushi, the mother and son team of traditional sashiko artisans behind the Instagram @sashikostory, regularly post pictures of their beautiful, intricate sashiko pieces. Atsushi, the son, speaks candidly about his mixed feelings regarding sashiko’s place in the visible mending movement, stressing that “sashiko is more than a trend”. He objects to people calling any mending “sashiko”, when it is in fact an artform with a specific cultural and historical practice that many people, like himself, have spent their whole life practising. This is an account that will inspire you to think critically as well as stitch thoughtfully.
Toronto-based maker, teacher and author of Visible Mending and Punch Needle, Arounna Khounnoraj, runs a sumptuous parade of an Instagram page at @bookhou. Think beautiful shots of her assorted projects, makes and mends, along with some tasty tips and tricks sprinkled throughout. Particularly enjoyable are her embroidery videos which are equally educational and enthralling.
Kate Sekules is on the more punk rock side of the visible mending spectrum. A longtime proponent of ethical fashion and mending, she is also an author and academic studying a PhD in material culture and design history. She says her goal is to become a literal doctor of mending. Her book, Mend!: A Refashioning Manual and Manifesto, mixes the history and theory of mending with instructions, tutorials and mendspiration. Her Instagram (@visiblemend) offers a very similar cocktail of content, showing her own uniquely spirited mends.
Katrina Rodabaugh is an artist and writer whose work explores the intersection of fibre arts, slow fashion and sustainability. Her writing has been published in many places, including the prestigious Peppermint (*wink wink*), and she has several books including Make Thrift Mend and Mending Matters. Katrina lives in a 200-year-old farmhouse in Hudson Valley, New York, where she grows flowers, herbs, fruits, vegetables and plants for her natural dyes, as well as tending chickens and honeybees. As well as sharing her brilliant work, her Instagram @katrinarodabaugh provides tantalising glimpses into those #lifestyle goals.
Meet Erin Lewis-Fitzgerald – the maker, “repair artist” and author of Modern Mending. Her online shop modernmending.com is tragically shut right now, while she takes some well deserved maternity leave, but you can still get your fix via her Instagram: @erinlewisfitzgerald. Come for the #remadebyELF series – in which people send her their beloved if slightly broken clothes and she performs emergency mending to spruce them right back up – and stay for the adorable letterbox dioramas she sets up to celebrate timely events. Too cute!