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Mar 27, 2012

To mend, or not to mend?



Readers, once I settle on a comfortable pair of pants,  I will wear that pair nearly every day (excluding special circumstances when I am forced to change my clothes of course).

Have you known other men like this?  I like to think it's not just a personal quirk.

As a result, the garment wears out sooner rather than later.  Case in point, these cotton pants, which were never very rugged to begin with and, if truth be told, I never really loved, but they fit well and were comfortable.



I made these nearly two years ago and they've gotten a tremendous amount of wear this winter.  Plus, when I'm working on a sewing project, I'm moving around on my knees a lot (on a wool rug), which is particularly hard on my pants.

Is this something you'd bother patching?

I'm not much of a mender.  I'll repair a seam that's ripping or fix a falling hem -- i.e., something that won't be visible -- but for damage like a worn knee, I'm inclined to pants into shorts, which is what I'll probably do with these.



I know ripped and/or mended jeans are considered cool in some circles, and I wore ripped jeans a lot in the early Nineties, but right now I'm not really feeling them (shot below via GQ).  Purchasing jeans already ripped seems particularly strange, but I know people do and who am I to judge?



If I'd grown up at a different time, say, during the Great Depression or WWII, I might be more inclined to patch my pants.  But I didn't so I'm not.





Readers, I'm curious: what kind of mending will you generally take on, and what kind will you refuse?

With so many thrift stores out there, and jeans so plentiful, would you bother mending them for any reason other than aesthetics?  I can see patching up kids clothes, but men's pants....? 

Make-do and mend or Toss-out and trade up -- Which best describes you?

Have a great day, everybody!

59 comments:

  1. I would definitely mend a well fitting, well loved pair of pants or jeans.

    I've stabilized from the inside and then secured it with stitching on the front.

    If the tear is not too unstable, I've also just used some tearaway embroidery stabilizer on the inside and then ran lots of stitches over the torn area.

    Each method will be noticeable, but it was worth it to me for casual jeans.

    I do have a computerized Elna with a special darning setting that made it easier, but you can do the same thing with a straight stitcher.

    Mend!

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  2. Great question. Sadly, as a sewist, my mending pile is always huge. I hate mending! But my husband loves me to mend. I'd say he is definitely a make-do and mend kindof guy! (you should see the things he fixes....even a pair of scissors for the garage...they look like edward scissorshands.) Anyway, I've repaired that knee quite often. I take a piece of denim, fuse it to the backside and tack over the area. That would bother me - wouldn't like the feel of it. He doesn't mind - especially since most of his jeans are for working around the house/yard/garage. His nice jeans have a hole blown out in the pocket due to wallet placement. I haven't fixed those yet - I think I can probably just add an old pocket to it. For his button down shirts - they often blow out at the elbow. I usually do a similar repair or turn it into a short sleeve shirt. Recently, I took it and used the fabric for a fabulous bow tie for my son. He was mad...but I loved the fabric. (And besides, we got the shirt free from a neighbor!)

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  3. I mend my husband's King Gee pants that he uses for stock work (cattle work). I figure he is only going to get another pair and wreck them, so may as well get more use out of the ones he has got!

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  4. I mend ... just fixed a tear like this on a friend's pants, using stabilizer on the back and the darning stitch on my sewing machine as others have described. And I might be one of the last people on the planet who darns socks! I've also replaced linings in woolen coats and used embroidery floss to hand satin-stitch over worn coat cuffs. Sometimes it's worth the effort to fix something; definitely a case-by-case decision. (I've also turned lots of ripped-knee pants into shorts.)

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  5. There's a Kenneth King class available on Craftsy about making a pattern for new jeans using an old pair that fits you perfectly (you don't even have to take them apart in the process). If you love the fit of these so much, that could be a good way to clone them before you shorts-ify the worn pair.

    And to answer your question, I am an enthusiastic mender. I am plus size and my job requires professional dress, so finding RTW clothes I like that fit well and are work-appropriate is already kind of a Holy Grail situation. I often take steps ahead of time to extend the life of my clothes, like fusing patches inside the inner thighs of my jeans and trousers BEFORE I wear them out.

    If the garment is something I've made myself, I'm even more likely to mend it. Chances are I (a) love it dearly and couldn't bear to part with it and (b) have scraps of the exact matching fabric available to do a near-invisible patch job.

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  6. SeamsterEast@aol.comMarch 27, 2012 at 9:35 AM

    I find mending blue jeans to be a short term solution. Fix the knee, the other goes out soon. Fix that and the seat starts to come apart. Fix that and the cuffs are gone.

    "Back in the days" of my youth, patching first knees then the seat was useful because the rest of the jeans lasted and lasted. Today, jeans seem to fall apart just about everywhere at the same time.

    People who grew up in the Depression to this day don't like to wear blue jeans at all, because during the Depression jeans were the clothing given to kids on "Relief" (as "Welfare" was called in those days), a signal to the entire world from blocks away your familty was in serious financial trouble.

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  7. I definitely would mend it. I did several times on my own jeans, my husband shorts and last time, even my mother-in-law asked me if I could change a broken zipper of her summer jacket! I must admit that most of times it is more work than make a new garment though. So I just mend "favorite" clothes and when they turn out not so charming, I use them at home.

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  8. I would mend them if I felt like they were irreplaceable otherwise - I have a pair of jeans like that (wore them practically every day from 16 until 20... or whenever I got too big for them lol), even the patches have patches (and those patches have patches and...). There are patches on the knees, the seat, the crotch, the pockets. I loved those pants, but more so because they were quite literally the only pair of jeans I owned (or ever found, for that matter) that fit me. So it made sense to keep repairing them.

    Another option would be to turn your pants into shorts... do you wear short shorts? :) lol

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  9. Toss and make new ones. I confess that nothing ever gets mended, unless DH wants it.

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  10. I'm generally a mender; i had a fav pair of jeans a few years back that i mended, wore, re-repaired etc until they literally fell off me LOL

    Like you, i tend to wear my favourite clothes almost exclusively until they disintegrate.

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  11. Shorts are the answer, but save the legs, and start a denim quilt. You aren't quilty (yet), but with a little pile of encouragement your first effort could open a new world to you.

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  12. I rarely mend things, but if I were considering it here would be my caveats:

    1) is the rest of the fabric on the garment in decent condition/can it be expected to last, or is it going to rip somewhere else next week?

    2) is the tear somewhere that can be artistically incorporated into the garment, or is it going to have to be a seamless fix in order to be wearable?

    3) what kind of garment is it? Jeans or dress slacks?

    Heavy weight blue jeans lend themselves to repair (or being artfully left ripped) because the fabric is so heavy that you will get spot wear rather than overall disintegration.

    Your jeans look very lightweight, and I don't know that a repair will please you. Plus it might be lumpy for all that kneeling on.

    You'll have to evaluate the overall condition - no sense in doing something useful with them this week and next week you hear that dreaded tearing noise...

    But if they're good and solid elsewhere? Have fun!

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  13. Well, I mend clothes because I am normally not in the mood to spend more on new clothes when I can easily, and nicely, mend the old ones.

    My boys' jeans become shorts. My daughters' jeans become shorter shorts. (I am also well known in the high school to be able to repair skater rips in the crotch area of jean.)

    I will find a way to repurpose clothes that can't be mended, such a new shirt for a younger person.

    A little frugality and a little eco-friendly...

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  14. I’m definitely a mender. I wear my clothes until there is nothing left of them or they are so woefully out of date that I feel like I’m wearing a costume. I’ll try anything to lengthen the life of a garment or find another use. For example, when the backside of a pair of pants became too shiny to wear, I used one of the legs to make a “modesty panel” for a dress with too-low cleavage. The zipper was removed and saved to make another pair.

    During the ‘70s, patching jeans was a creative outlet. Elaborate patches and embroidery were used. Some bought their jeans this way. My friends and I “created” them from old jeans that needed patching.

    These days I just stabilize from the back and run some stitching over it. Usually, the jeans end up tearing at the edge of the patch, but I’ve gotten some extra wear in the meantime.

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  15. I wish I was a mender but I am not. I will make an entire garment before getting around to hemming a pair of RTW pants.

    Mending the blue pants? Hmm, could be an opportunity to play around with the darning stitch function. Maybe Cathy would do it for you? I can see her mending in one of her 1940s outfits!

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  16. Cut them into shorts and make a new, sturdier pair with that same pattern!

    I'm a mender for many things, but jeans I wouldn't bother. As someone else pointed out, you'll repair this knee, then the next one will go...

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  17. SeansterEast@aol.comMarch 27, 2012 at 10:58 AM

    Let me add.

    I have been known to replace collars and cuffs on good shits which have become worn. Like my patched jeans, these shirts didn't last much longer until the fabric tore somewhere else, often from ordinary washing.

    I have mended the worn cuffs on a favored sailing jacket (I used nylon sailbag cloth) to effect, but the collar is nearing the end. I could sailbag cloth the collar, but the rest of the jacket is getting a little grungy. I wear the jacket when style is not important, such as cool/cold days out on the water or motorcycle riding. The jacket won't yet get me arrested for vagrancy, but it's getting closer.

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  18. MEND! You don't get well fitting comfy pants everyday.

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  19. I mend, usually. And I also darn socks (up to a point--when I find myself darning the darning, then out they go).

    However, I have yet to replace a collar or cuffs on one of my husband's shirts. That's a true sign of 1930s-era thrift and ingenuity.

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  20. What amazes me are all the garments that some people throw out or sell for peanuts because they don't know how to sew on a button, or re-sew part of a seam. Of course I also treasure that ignorance, because it's scored me a lot of great finds over the years. But for my own favorite clothes, I will definitely mend them. The only things I hate mending are really big holes, and socks.

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  21. Mend. I always try to mend, but it doesn't always work out well.

    Your pants I'd mend and use only for crawling on wool carpets. Thus not ruining another pair of pants.

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  22. They are not worth mending - they are too worn above the rip - how about shorts?

    Mary C.

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  23. I'd turn those into shorts and make myself another pair or 3 from the pattern. I did mend a pair of Elijah's jeans to have a monster knee but I'm not so sure about that for and adult plus he just got a whole under the repair job. Here's the link just the same.
    http://ejegmama.blogspot.com/2011/10/monster-knee.html

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  24. I really hate to mend, but I do it. My husband is always asking me to fix his pants. It starts with hemming (he is short)and goes to fixing the pockets that get holes and the knees. You are not alone in being a man who wears the same thing all the time. My dad also often asks me to mend his clothes. I hate it, but what can you do?? I usually stall, but finish the job. I would much rather make a whole garment.

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  25. I have a pair of jeans that ripped all the way across right below the butt cheek. I love that pair of pants, very comfy when riding the motorcycle too. I have mended them at least 10 times. I still have them too.

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  26. I mend my jeans, because it is impossible to find more that fit the way I like. And also because I hope to get enough more wear out of them to take me down a size. lol But if you didn't really like them in the first place, I'd turn them into shorts and make a new pair that you like better.

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  27. I tend to wear out the inner thighs of my jeans. I have tried to mend one pair and the patch just didn't cut it. So, I usually just head over to the thrift store or Ross and buy a replacement pair.

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  28. You could always channel you inner child, and mend them with a picture patch...very 70's ! Xxx

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  29. I'd mend them, but that's just me. I kinda live by that old maxim, "use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without"! I've gone around before with clothes that were almost more patches than cloth in places before.

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  30. As a kid I would darn my socks (a light bulb placed in the heel keeps the shape), and I always had patches on my pants. That was way before tears and patches were cool and considered in style. I swore I'd never do that to my kids, so when the knees go, pants get hacked off into shorts.

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  31. Come on, Peter, I can just see my Italian/Jewish mother saying "MEND"...with the hand going up from the mid chest under the chin! LOL! I mend, but will use descression as to what I mend...too far gone and it is b-bye...and NEVER socks.

    Stan

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  32. I just picked up a great quilt at an antique store for $16. $16! It's tragic to see something that I know took so much work end up being priced for that price. So I rescued it. It needs some patching, but it deserves it, and the beautiful woman who made it deserves to have her art treated well.

    As for clothes, I wear knee ripped jeans for a while until the tear becomes "too large to be fashionable," and then I move on.

    ~Elizabeth

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    Replies
    1. HOLD IT, Elizabeth!

      Are you certain of the quilter's gender?

      Giving credit, or derision, based on gender-roles only supports stereotypes.

      Sign me,
      Rather testy

      Delete
  33. Turn them into shorts. I used to mend jeans when I was a poor uni student and I couldn't afford to buy new ones, but they were never as comfy once they had patches on the knees. Especially not since you probably still want to crawl around the floor in them.

    If they were ones that you bought and they were particularly cofortable, then maybe, but you have the pattern still, right? Make at least two new pairs and turn these ones into shorts.

    I do like the creative repair though - I did these jeans for my daughter: http://liamsolomonsmummy.blogspot.com.au/2011/07/my-creative-space-amelies-jeans.html

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  34. I mend our superfine merino tshirts and lightweight jumpers, but it's not invisible and that sometimes means the item becomes one for around the house only. (Not to mention it's tedious as the machine knitting is minute.) As for pants, I'd repair a torn hem or a holey pocket, but never the knees. They'll look dreadful with a stiff layer behind and stitching through all the layers, so unless they're for around the house, start sewing a new pair Peter. I would cut up the fabric and use it for cleaning rags if a pair of shorts was out of the question.

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  35. I mend my pants with a darning stitch. The first mending is not a hard decision. It's the second mending when one has worn through the first generation darning stitches. Lord help me, I'm considering sewing on a patch.

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  36. Jeans, yes. My 4 year-old calls the patch a jeans window.

    I like Janet's idea of mending these pants for continued use on the wool carpets. Maybe even make it a comfy patch!! You'll like the pants even less as shorts.

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  37. If it's a garment I enjoy wearing, I will mend it. I vote for mending and wearing on the carpet, too.

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  38. I mend but also re-create. My husband is a big guy and his worn or stained dress shirts have enough fabric to make my grandsons boxer shorts. The fabric is nice and soft and they love them. I work at a psychiatric hospital and we use donated jeans for lots of projects. People love to give them to someone who can use them rather than tossing them out.

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  39. I'd copy your pants to make new ones regardless. You could try to mend using Bo Nash Bonding powder. I just purchased a couple of months ago as I dislike mending by machine unless it's a hem or seam. I use this to mend all DH work Levi's and a favorite duster-length wool sweater of mine. Worked great-but use sparingly. If you don't like the way the bonding powder feels, then cut pants off for shorts.

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  40. I'm a mender! My boyfriend's jeans get holey knees and worn-out thighs. I rip the outside seam and put a big rectangular patch of new denim from just below the pockets to below the knee, across almost to the inseam. Then I zigzag around the whole patch, cut away the original fabric from behind it, and sew up the side seam again.

    Aside from that, I darn my socks until the toes are more mending than sock.

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  41. I would walk away from those, or make another pair!

    I do mend though as I have a lot of vintage clothing which often need work on, mending seams, tiny bits of wear and tear or repurposing something that is totally shot but the fabric is fabulous.

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  42. I mend. It's the principle of the thing. Get another year's wear out of a garment means less garments overall and that is a good thing. Perhaps you could do a cool mend, maybe put a funky print behind the rip and darn sew it randomly on the machine. The rip will fry and the print will show through a little. Could be interesting, and a mere ten miuntes to achieve?

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  43. I've mended, but I prefer the non-mended look. I saved my well fitting jeans with the intent to take them apart to use as a pattern to make a new pair--but I'm such a procrastinator, I haven't done it yet. Eventually, they'll get used for something. My mother made a log cabin quilt out of all of our old jeans. Quite a heavy quilt, but fantastic for our Michigan winters.

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  44. Over the years I have mended jeans, put coloured patches behind the tear then let the edges at the front keep fraying..or cut jeans into shorts, or even made them into a skirt. It depends how loved the jeans were. I once accidentally spilled drops of varnish over a loved pair of jeans and kept wearing them anyway..

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  45. I'm a mender, especially of work jeans. Since this particular pair isn't denim(?) I'd probably make them into shorts. If I were to mend the knee, I'd probably make sure I wore them only at home, as the patched/worn jeans look is in my past, unless I'm in the garden or painting.

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  46. Mending breaks your sewing machine.

    (I have been known to use small iron on patches on the *inside* of a tear and then reinforce with very small denim-color thread, zig-zagging, when pockets start to pull away).

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  47. I'm a mender, if the seam has let go, but I don't patch jeans anymore. Too trendy looking for me! I used to patch everything in the 60's and 70's, using fabric from my handmade kids'clothes. Cute, eh?
    I think you should just turn them into shorts and be done with it. If they fit better than any other pair of pants you own, well then make a pattern off them.

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  48. I do mend where its easy and the original garment was good quality. Occasionally I've been caught out by mending something difficult and making it look worse! Or mending something thin and it keeps coming back with hole after hole.

    If it were that sort of hole in the knee of my husband's Levis 501s I'd do it. Easy peasy!

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  49. I mend everything I can. Personally, I have more use for pants than shorts (and the knee is never the first thing to go on me).

    For jeans, I straighten out the tear and glue a piece of thin cotton (or whatever is handy) to the inside. Let dry. Stitch the tear together using 3-step zigzag. Cut a patch, press the raw edges under, tack raw edges in place with a touch of glue, then glue to the garment. Edgestitch the patch in place.

    Once I stopped trying to use pins in this process, it got a lot faster and less pokey!

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  50. I have a strict sewing rule: All mending must be done before I begin a new project. Keeps the pile small, and restores to use lots of wonderful things. If you love the pants, mend them; or cut them up to recycle. Stretch your pennies and the dollars will show up!

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  51. The dream jeans mending machine...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wtb5gqT7f44

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  52. I have never made a pair of jeans before. On the flip side, I wear them out till they are unwearable. I bought a pair of Lauren Conrad jeans (oh the shame) but the fit was really great. I cannot seem to find jeans that fit both my age and occupation (I can't do mid rise , too high! And I can't do low rise, waaay too low for bending over picking up my kiddos) so when I tried on the LC jeans the rise was perfect. Needless to say they wore out within a year of me wearing them several times a week. Poor quality really. The denim is thin and wore out in the knees and crotch. Anyway, I am going to *try* to copy the pants and remake them. why do well fitting RTW jeans seem to be the bane of humanity? I have tried on literally 20 brands of jeans with no favorable reactions. I'm not an odd shape, although I do think the majority of jeans makers think that a size 4 means you must be under 5'4. Why do women not have the option like men to buy pants by waist and inseam?

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  53. You would think so, but alas it's not so. I work at a department store at night and have tried every pair! The juniors are long enough but the rise is loooooow, I refuse to bend over and flash undies anymore. The misses jeans are all midrise to my belly button, I think of mom jeans. Candies jeans have no butt and are too teenage tight, rocking' republic isn't bad but I won't pay $60 for jeans on sale. I may go to young men's and just get skinny fit. They should Be okay, idk, it's so annoying. I could always suck it up and buy LC jeans again knowing the knees will wear out. It would be nice to just be able to buy Fitted RTW jeans without a hassle ya know.

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  54. You said you crawl around on the floor in them..why not make PADDED KNEE PATCHES for them? Sorta like motorcycle pants! For floor-crawling-around, padding makes a world of difference!

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  55. Almost all my jeans (about 80%) ripped by my left knee within a year or 2. at first one..i was like what the heck...just get a new one.
    BUT 80% of my jeans within the last 4 years started doing the exact same thing!!
    Luckily, i kept my old ones...so i've laready traded up..and now with my latest on, i'm definitely gonna mend and try out new things. why not? i have NOTHING to lose by doing so...

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