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Visible Mending as Wearable Art

diy how to mending sashiko tutorial upcycle

Too worn to wear

There comes a time in the lifespan of a pair of jeans when a decision must be made to keep or toss. There is a little know 3rd option, and it's a good one. Sashiko those jeans!!

Sashiko Boot Camp

I've been hitting the sashiko pretty hard the last few months and have even managed to teach a sashiko workshop last month. 

A few months of a new craft isn't long to most people, but I am 1) a little obsessive and 2) I started sashiko-ing as a fairly profesh embroiderer. 

What happened with all of this time spent learning and practicing sashiko is discovering my own style of sashiko style visible mending. I started blending some of the repeating running stitch sashiko patterns mixed with my own colorfully threaded freestyle embroidery.

A Bold Move 

I was feeling pretty confident about this project, and decided that I would use my favorite pair of jeans with a vague idea in mind. Mind you, I wear these jeans about 3 times a week. Yeah, I went all in. These jeans were getting so thin and I was afraid that they may actually just come apart at the seams while I wore them. 

when your favorite jeans are too delicate to wear

Prepping the jeans

The first step was to add some structure, but I didn't want the patch to be visible, so I pinned it to the inside of the pant leg, where it would eventually be secured in place with the added stitching.

preparing to mend your jeans

Because the jeans were so weak, I needed to add structure to the entire upper leg. I pinned the pocket to the waist to keep it out of the way, so it wouldn't accidently be stitched closed in the process. 

save the pocket

Finally, the embroidery part

sashiko denim mending

This is the base layer of my stitching. I started vertical sashiko stitches (as is proper), then horizontal (still proper technique), and then I got a little whimsical with the diagonal stitches, skipping some, and adhering to a pattern in other spots (certainly not traditional). 

Here's where things really took a turn

sashiko variation

I added some satin stitched circles with a little trail from one to the next. 

sashiko style wrenbirdarts

It's a little hard to see, but I used a variegated orange perl cotton, and surrounded the first circle, then I thought maybe a flower using a running stitch to add another layer that feels more like sashiko, only more color, and not precise. 

visible mending on denim

Finished for now, these jeans have a decent amount of stretch, so they will probably need more stitching in the near future, but for now, I can wear them without fear of them unraveling. 


erin eggenburg embroidery

And hey--here I am. If you want to hear from me every couple of weeks about embroidery related things, sign up for the wrenbirdarts' newsletter here:


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Or, if you want to learn more about the sashiko basics here,


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