Sashiko jeans mending

So my jeans always, always tear just underneath my butt after about a year of wearing them. Of course this happens to my favorite pair of the moment, since that’s the pair I’m always wearing. It’s a combination of the stone washing that they do to jeans nowadays, my rigorous wearing them, and probably something to do with the shape of my thighs/bum and the amount of walking I do in jeans.

So anyway, after about a year, they tear, either on one leg or both. It makes me desperately unhappy, because I always have one perfect pair of jeans – all the other ones are okay, but never perfect. Of course they never tear, because I’m always wearing the perfect pair. But I digress.

I end up with these torn pants that I love so much I can’t say goodbye to them. Every now and then my mother takes pity on me and mends them. But because of the visible repair, I don’t feel comfortable wearing them to the office. So I’ve got these mended jeans that I used to love but don’t really wear anymore. I usually make do with the less favorite jeans until I buy another perfect pair again.

But not this time! Not again!

I have this pair of jeans now that I’m pretty sure I’ve only had for half a year or so, and I loved them (they fit so well!), and couldn’t bear giving them up. (I’m not gonna tell you the story of how these tore, because it’s embarrassing. A family outing was involved, to a public place. For some reason, they always tear at really inconvenient moments, and usually in public.)

Luckily, around the time they tore, I learned about sashiko mending. I loved the whole idea of it. Not just the fact that Japanese people treasured fabric and didn’t throw away their clothes, but mended them and kept wearing them. That’s awesome, we used to do that in the Netherlands too, in the good old days when clothes hadn’t become too cheap to throw away. I loved the thought though that they didn’t try to hide the repair, they didn’t try to make it as inconspicuous as possible – but instead they celibrated the repair. They showed exactly how it was mended and made the repair beautiful. The mending is part of the life of the object, it reflects how everything in life is imperfect and that is what makes it beautiful – just as it should be. And it shows the worth of the object: it meant something to it’s owner, it meant enough to spend time and effort to repair it, to be able to keep it.

Apparently there is a movement nowadays that does this thing: visible mending, and apparently I am now part of it. Because that is what I would like to do: not to throw away everything (which is hard for a consumer like me, even with my hippie tendencies) but to mend it. To cherish what I love and repair it and keep on using it. And making it more beautiful in the process, if possible.

So la! Time for me to try this sashiko mending.

Really not that easy! This was my first try, on a piece of denim cut out of an old (…and torn….) pair of jeans. Luckily I happened to have some cotton thread lying around, leftovers of my wedding dress to be honest. Perfect for my first forays into sashiko! I quickly found out it’s quite easy to make different patterns with just dotted lines up and down. It’s a different thing to actually do it neatly, though.

So I’m not the sort of person to spend days practicing before I go for broke… either this worked, or I could throw the jeans away, in which case I’d be just as far as I was before trying. So off we went! Look at the little stabs.

I put a strong piece of denim behind the tear and used the red thread to fix it into place until the sashiko stitching was finished.

Almost reached the tear… I decided to start out with this really basic stripy pattern, figuring I could always turn it into a different pattern afterwards.

But when I kept going, I found I really liked the stripes I made.

And kept going… until the entire piece of denim was fixed into place by the sashiko stitching.


As you can see, I wasn’t as neat as I could’ve been. Partially that’s because I didn’t have a proper sashiko needle – I was working with a general needle, but they’re a bit too short and fragile to use easily in denim.

The other thing was that I didn’t do the loops of thread at the end of the lines. Because of this, the denim puckers a little. I didn’t really mind, but if you want to do it perfectly, it’s better to leave the loops, so that the fabric doesn’t pull taut.

I’m very pleased with it, though! I love how strong the mended fabric feels, and the little white dotted lines at something interesting to the jeans. I could’ve kept the sashiko closer to the tear, but I liked going a bit further down the leg.

Not as neat as I would’ve liked, but I’m not unpleased with this first try!

So. Next up is the husband’s favorite pair of jeans. Let’s see how that fairs, shall we?