So, before beginning this review, I should probably say two things: first, the author, Kristin Roach, is a friend of CraftyPod, having been a podcast guest before. (And we’ve also talked about her long-running Craft Leftovers zine.) And second, both my Mom and I contributed projects to this book. Kristin and Storey Publishing also contrived to pay every contributor for their work, so that deserves mention, too!
Okay, then… onward to the review. Mend It Better: Creative Patching, Darning, and Stitching is another good example of a new direction I’m seeing in craft-book publishing lately: the high-value “textbook”-style book. The focus here is more on instruction than projects, and I love it.
The concept is twofold: showing you how to do a whole slew of repairs on clothing through sewing and patching, and then showing you some creative applications of those techniques on actual garments. There are also some fun, easy projects where you make your own mending tools: a needle book, a pressing ham, a zippered toolkit for your supplies, a darning egg.
The technique pages are extremely user-friendly, with clear step-by-step instructions generously illustrated with process photographs.
(And I’ll just mention that the art direction here is utterly charming. There are enough drool-worthy photos of vintage craft supplies illustrating this book to satisfy any crafter. And, send you straight to eBay to troll for more.)
I had to share a close-up of one of these process images to show you the quality. There are great little annotations like you see here – even a rank beginner should have no problem following these images and instructions. This book would make a charming gift, in fact, for a new seamster. (Or someone who’s uncommonly hard on her clothes!)
It’s hard to give you a picture of the scope of this book without going on and on, but just as a sampling… you’ll learn to make repairs to buttons and buttonholes, zippers, seams, rips and tears, holes in knits, holes in leather or suede, elastics and drawstrings. You’ll also learn the basics of taking in and letting out seams, letting hems up and down, and adding hidden and non-hidden pockets. You’ll get into using decorative trims, beads, and stitchery as a means of fabric repair. And then you’ll learn some solid fabric-care basics and little tricks to make your clothes last longer. Whew.
To my mind, the chapter on zipper repairs alone is worth the price of admission. And it reminds me of an awfully cute skirt I hung onto for three years and finally sent back to Goodwill because I was too intimidated to repair the zipper. And now I see it wouldn’t have been all that hard! Sigh.
The chapter on mending tools and supplies deserves special mention because it goes into a nice amount of detail about needles, threads, measuring tools, marking tools, rulers and cutting tools, and everything’s lavishly illustrated like this. If you’re new to sewing tools, you’ll learn a lot here.
OK, so I haven’t talked much about the projects yet. There are 22 step-by-step projects (by my count), plus extra pages of ideas you might apply to your own garments.
In addition to the aforementioned projects for making your own mending tools, there are some garment-based ones that apply the book’s techniques. This skirt, for example, demonstrates how to add length with a fabric insert.
Here, Cal Patch shows you how to darn socks with crochet – and you could totally apply this technique to sweaters and hats as well as socks.
In some cases, the projects take mending into a more artistic realm, as in this cool take on denim repair from Sherri Lynn Wood.
…And to wrap up, I’ll share Mom’s and my projects. On the left is her cute patching technique, where fused fabric combines with a dimensional flower that will wash and wear. And on the right, I used a modified darning technique to cover a stain and add an embellishment.
Despite being a contributor, I see Mend It Better as the kind of book you’ll keep on your shelf for years and refer back to whenever you have a mending project. It’s already got me inspired to tackle that pile of folded clothes that’s been waiting patiently for minor repairs.
(Oops, almost forgot to add: I was sent a contributor copy to review, and the title links here are affiliate links.)