Trend Alert: Visible Mending All Over the House

Little Mill Abergavenny holiday cottage, Abergavenny, Wales.

For years now we’ve been watching the visible mending movement make inroads in the world of fashion: Inventive patching has become a celebrated part of everyday wardrobe care. It’s an antidote to throw-away consumerism of all sorts, but has been perplexingly slow to extend beyond the closet.

In decades past, people mended and darned all of their textiles, holey pillowcases, ragged towels, moth-eaten blankets, and puppy-chewed chair arms included. Now, worn goods get escorted out with the trash. But shoring up frazzled objects is often simple, as you’ll see in the ten examples below, and not only keeps them in use but adds charm: Who doesn’t love handmade detailing and Velveteen Rabbit-esque signs of care? In other words, tears should be seen as opportunities.

The good news is we’ve begun to notice personalized upgrades in favorite rooms we’ve featured of late. This is just the start, but we anticipate a patches-on-everything trend ahead—and we’re looking forward to it.

N.B.: A great resource on textiles, including the latest books and workshops on mending, is Tatter and its Brooklyn textile library, Blue.

Little Mill Abergavenny holiday cottage, Abergavenny, Wales.
Above: Hayley Caradoc-Hodgkins says the French striped sheet cloaking her sofa has been in her family for years: “It’s been patched and repatched,” and is one of the attractions at Little Mill Abergavenny, the 17th century cottage in Abergavenny, Wales, that Hayley and her husband remodeled and run as a vacation rental. Read about it in A Once Upon-a-Time Holiday Cottage in Wales. Photograph courtesy of Little Mill Abergavenny.
Remodelista: The Low-Impact Home, DIY chair patch by Justine Hand. Justine Hand photo.
Above: In our latest book, Remodelista: The Low-Impact Home, we feature a dozen of our own Justine Hand’s inspired DIY projects, including her tone-on-tone patched slipcover.

Justine notes: “There are many ways to patch: Use a complementary or contrasting color and sew the patch on the outside for a visible mend (to create a smooth edge, fold under all four sides, iron in place, and trim bulky corners); or sew matching fabric on the inside of a hole for a subtler fix. You can also experiment with different kinds of stitching, such as the Japanese geometric embroidery stitch called sashiko, which translates as “little stabs.” Photograph by Justine Hand for Remodelista.

Corinne-Gilbert-design-patched-pillow-and-beanbag-chair. Matthew WIlliams for Remodelista photo.
Above: French artist-interior designer Corinne Gilbert’s improvisational Brooklyn apartment is a Remodelista all-time favorite. Shown here are her multi-patched beanbag chair and appliquéd pillow: hand-sewn, easy upgrades that are transformational. See more of her solutions in Expert Advice: How to Decorate Like a Frenchwoman and tour her whole apartment in Remodelista: A Manual for the Considered Home. Photograph by Matthew Williams for Remodelista.
Vintage Japanese patched futon cover from Sri Threads, Brooklyn,
Above: For patching inspiration, look to vintage Japanese indigo textiles known as boro, which means “tattered and repaired.” The real versions, such as this patched futon cover from Japanese folk textile gallery, Sri Threads  (@srithreads) in Brooklyn, were made during the very lean years of the early 20th century when, out of necessity, families in rural communities repaired and recycled everything.
Stephen Kenn blackened steel Boro Chair.
Above: LA furniture designer Stephen Kenn often uses vintage mended textiles in his work—reinforced with an underpinning of new indigo-dyed canvas. This blackened steel Boro Chair is part of a line made in collaboration with Kenji Wong of Hong Kong lifestyle store Growth Ring & Supply.
Berman Horn Harlem House, Photo by Greta Rybus
Above: Admired in an architect couple’s NYC townhouse we recently profiled (see “Silly, Thrifty, and Not Too Serious”: Architects Maria Berman and Brad Horn at Home in Harlem): couch cushions with mismatched patches. Of her repair work, Maria writes: “One of the couch cushions gets more use than the rest thanks to Sandor, our cat, and started to wear through. The fabric was discontinued, and it seemed wasteful to recover the entire couch because of one cushion. I embraced the art of mending to create these patches. They’re silly and not too serious but also cheerful and thrifty.” Photograph by Greta Rybus.
Applique-mended vintage wool blanket from Sharktooth in Brooklyn
Above: Sharktooth is another standout Brooklyn gallery specializing in antique and vintage textiles. Current inventory includes this 1930’s Appliquéd Camp Blanket with “charm-like patches” that cover holes. An idea to copy: “The patches are mirrored on the front and back of the blanket,” explains Sharktooth’s Lorenza Lattanzi. “We found the blanket partially patched and continued the repair in this decorative style.”
Antique Caucasian Shirvan rug with shashiko mend from Sharktooth, Brooklyn
Above: Another Sharktooth offering: a vegetable-dyed Antique Caucasian Shirvan rug with “an unconventional and pleasing sashiko-style visible stitch mend.”
patched-mat. Justine Hand photo
Above: Julie’s favorite bath mat, a traditional Portuguese design, had started to come apart. For a fast mend, her husband, Josh, surprised her by bringing it to the dry cleaner. They tackled the repair using matching fabric as under patches secured in a geometric pattern with a sewing machine, resulting in white-on-white squares. Photograph by Justine Hand for Remodelista.
Remodelista: The Low-Impact Home, DIY screen door patch by Justine Hand. Justine Hand photo.
Above:  Textiles are far from the only everyday things that require patching. Consider this quick fix that Justine came up with for the kitchen screen door in her Cape Cod cottage: Rather than replacing the screen—”a wasteful and labor-intensive job,” she says—Justine uses scrap fabric to cut out patches in leaf and other shapes that she stitches onto the screen. “Cut your pieces of fabric large enough to cover the hole and then some—and make sure the patch looks good on both sides of the screen,” she instructs. “Place it on the inside of the screen, and sew the edges with a needle and thread.” Photograph by Justine Hand for Remodelista.

For patchwork inspiration, take a look at The Great American Patchwork Comeback and Pojagi: Stitched Patchwork Window Coverings.

More easy household fixes:

N.B.: This post was first published on Remodelista on April 3, 2023.

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