Art News

Making It: Let It Show with Visible Mending

by Claire Voon

"Some 3,350 years ago, an ancient Egyptian used white thread to darn an indigo headcloth likely worn by none other than Tutankhamun. While simple, the tiny running stitches, contrasting with the deep blue of the headcloth (on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art), represent something quite remarkable: They may be the oldest surviving visible mend, according to Kate Sekules, a clothes historian and avid mender.

For Sekules, whose repairs extend to frayed or holey sleeves, collars, pants, or what have you, the ancient darns are “completely familiar,” as she writes in her mending guide Mend! A Refashioning Manual and Manifesto. They remind her of some of her own sewing—conspicuous stitches that not only fix but also transform the original item. Take, for instance, a pair of trousers she’s donned frequently over the last year. Worn and torn, their seat has become a veritable color explosion of patches and little cross-stitches.

Sekules, who shares projects on her Instagram account @visiblemend, is a lodestar in the visible mending movement, a growing international network of sewers who use creative stitching to repair old clothing and other threadbare textiles. First popularized by Tom van Deijnen, a Dutch sewer known in stitching circles as Tom of Holland, the term has been embraced in recent years by crafters, vintage textile lovers, and eco-conscious proponents of slow fashion. There is no single mending style, but a core philosophy: to celebrate the aesthetic potential of mends rather than conceal them. Beyond exercising the creative mind, mending also extends the life of garments that might otherwise end up in landfills...."

Collections: Press

Type: press

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