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  • Writer's pictureBonnie Liang

Visible Mending: A (W)hole New Way to Update Your Closet

Updated: Mar 16

Are you tired of hiding your worn-out clothes in the back of your closet, hoping no one will notice those pesky holes and stains? In this day and age of fast fashion, it’s not unusual to discover torn seams or holes in your clothes. And for the investment pieces in your closet, there’s nothing worse than finding out ketchup got on more than your fries or realizing a moth had your sweater as an appetizer. If any of this sounds familiar, it’s time to embrace a whole new way of updating your wardrobe. Get creative and move those tired clothes front and center again with visible mending!

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What is Visible Mending?

Visible mending is all about transforming those imperfections into eye-catching (or subtle) accents that add personality and charm to your clothing. Instead of trying to hide tears, holes, or stains, visible mending celebrates them as unique design opportunities. It’s a fun and creative way to breathe new life into your wardrobe while reducing waste and promoting sustainability. 

Close-up of visible mending on denim jeans

Getting Your Mind into Mending Mode

First things first, let’s talk about motivation. I used to look at moth holes and threadbare denim knees as the death of my favorite closet staples. When those holes sprung or something got stained, the voice in my head would say, “Ugh, now I have to fix it or toss it.” Then my dear friend and BonnaH Co business partner Hannah introduced me to a new approach to repairing clothes. I’m so grateful to her, my mending guru, for opening my eyes to the whimsical world of visible mending! Now that voice in my head shouts, “Sweet! I get to mend it and have some fun!” Those wardrobe blemishes become opportunities to create one-of-a-kind statement pieces rather than a dreaded chore of fixing something in a boring way.

Try it yourself. Say “fix” out loud. Then say “mend”. Doesn’t the latter just roll off your tongue. It’s amazing what a simple reframe can do to get you motivated. Fixing clothes isn’t very sexy, but mending is a whole other world of possibilities. And you get to decide if it’s sexy, fun, artsy, or any combination of whatever your heart desires!

Asian woman wearing glasses and lavender scarf with visible mending on moth holes

Tools and Techniques:

Ready to dive into the world of visible mending? All you need are a few basic supplies and a healthy dose of creativity. Grab some colorful threads, embroidery floss, and scrap fabric for patches, and you’re good to go! Some yarn or needles for felting and wool roving are great options for sweater mends, too.

If you’re already a crafter, a sewist, or dabble in needlework, look through your collection of tools, supplies, and fabric. There’s no need to go out and spend a lot of money on new supplies or materials. You’ve probably got a treasure trove of things to work with already. It’s just another way to add to the sustainability of your mending practice. And yes, it’s a practice! The more you do it, the easier it’ll become and the better you’ll be at doing it.

If you’re brand new and don’t have any supplies on hand, we created some cute mini mending kits that you can find in our shop. They’re great for mending on the go!

Visible mending kit with sewing tools and supplies and fabric patches

There are endless possibilities when it comes to visible mending techniques. In my opinion, visible mending and hand embroidery go hand in hand. If you're new to embroidery, Hannah shares four tips for making it easier here. Experiment with different embroidery stitches to create simple or intricate patterns that accentuate tears and holes. Choose colorful threads for bold designs or tonal ones for a more subtle approach. After all, the beauty of DIY is that you’re in charge. You get to make it your own! One of my favorite mending techniques is darning. You basically weave your own new layer of fabric to cover the hole. My favorite thread is variegated pearl cotton for its pretty color variations and its durability.

Woman wearing a sweater and scarf and jeans with visible mending on back pocket

Patchwork, using fabric scraps to cover larger areas of damage, is another great way to mend. Try stitching the patch underneath the holes for a fun peekaboo effect. Or consider creating your own painted fabric patch like I did for this custom denim jacket mend.

Back view of dark denim jacket with painted pink flower patch on elbow

For sweaters, you can cover up holes or stains using needle felting. It works like magic! Bonus, wool roving comes in a rainbow of gorgeous colors as well as neutrals.

Pro tip: mix and match techniques to create truly unique and personalized pieces. You might discover a new method you love by experimenting and combining techniques. For example, you might felt an elbow patch onto your sweater sleeve and then add some fancy stitching over the patch to add a bit more personality to the mend.

Learn more about creating and using patches in my next post. You can subscribe to our blog so you don’t miss it!

Searching for Mending Inspiration

Look no further than the world around you! Draw inspiration from nature, art, or even your favorite patterns and textures. The possibilities are endless, so let your imagination run wild and see where it takes you.

Visit your local library! There are many wonderful books full of mending inspiration and how-tos just waiting to spark your creativity. Remember not to limit yourself to just mending books. Embroidery books are a fantastic source of inspiration too. Take a peek through our BonnaH Co Book Recs and see if your library carries any of the titles. If not, you can consider picking up your own copy. I got lucky at my local library and found all of these:

Woman in striped sweatshirt and visibly mended jeans holding stack of library books about mending and embroidery

There’s also an incredible wealth of knowledge and creativity that can be found through an active mending community on Instagram. Hannah and I often share mending projects of our own there and on Pinterest. Follow along to see them or consider joining our Patreon, where we’ll be sharing more in-depth videos of our mending in action. Check out our BonnaH Co mending resources here.

The Take-Away

Visible mending isn’t just a trend—it’s a movement. By embracing this creative approach to fashion, you’re not only updating your closet but also making a statement about sustainability and individuality. Rock your newly updated garments with confidence and pride, knowing that each stitch tells a story and adds character to your outfit. And don’t be surprised if you start turning heads and inspiring others to embrace visible mending too. So go ahead and patch, stitch, and embroider your way to a wardrobe that’s as unique as you are!

What about YOU?

Are you ready to join the mending revolution? What techniques speak to you? Or maybe you’re a seasoned mender already? Do you have any tips or experiences to share? What makes mending easy for you? Did we miss anything? We'd love to hear from you! Drop us a comment below with your favorite hacks or join the conversation on our Instagram feed. And don't forget to subscribe to our blog for more mending inspiration and helpful tips. We love building community and want you to be a part of ours!

Happy mending!!

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