4 Visible Mending Techniques to try

Green button down shirt with closeup on pocket with embroidery stitch saying "born to make history" in white and yellow thread a visible mending technique
Four mending techniques to try when mending your clothes to add personal style, self expression and design.

Visible mending technique became a form of self-expression in 2020 as the lockdown enabled people to be more creative with their wardrobe.  Now in 2024, this form of creative mending entered fashion showing that visible mending stopped being  a trend; becoming instead a merger of style, individuality and sustainability. 

Several visible mending techniques became stables, appearing on runways from Milan to Paris including embroidery, darning, cross stitch and patchwork. Back in 2020, Alexander McQueen’s Sarah Burton repurposed deadstock fabric from previous seasons into new runway styles for spring 2020. Emily Adams Bode makes covetable new clothes with a handcrafted feel—she often incorporates found objects into her clothes and store in the Lower East Side of New York (Vogue, 4/20). 

Today, Bora Aksu strategic placement of lace in a patchwork style, Erdem’s beading embroidery and Richard Quinn’s play with floral patchwork all graced London Fashion week for Spring 2024.  So how do we add such an artful take to our own wardrobes? 

What is Visible Mending?

Of course, in fashion, these techniques are used on new fabrics to create interesting textures and bold statements but they can also be used to repair damaged clothing. Visible mending restores clothes in a way which the repair itself becomes a form of expression. Unlike traditional mending that focuses on restoring the garment to its original state; visible mending allows rips and tears in the garment to tell a story about the garment’s history by making repairs visible.  By adding contrasting threads, artistic motifs and bold textures, visible mending extends the life of clothes in an artful way. The perfect step in a sustainability journey allowing to appreciate the degradation of clothes as its history revealed rather than a rag to trash.  

So here are 4 ways to use visible mending techniques in your wardrobe.

Mending Technique: Embroidery

This visible mending technique uses embroidery thread to highlight holes by stitching around them. Used in more heavy fabrics like denim, this technique works best when the fabric’s composition excludes lycra and other fibers that add stretch. Unlike traditional embroidery, the stitching lacks precision and covers holes with different motifs  styles including flowers, animals, insects, or simple lines.

Many stitches exist when it comes to embroidery mending but today these four visible mending techniques stand out and work best for large surfaces.


Woven Stitch

Showing a mending technique of weaving repair stitch process with red thread vertical and beige thread horizontal on blue fabric.

This mending technique creates a woven look over holes with the horizontal thread weaved beneath the hole. 

Blanket Stitch

A gray fabric with blanket stitch embroidery in green thread (a mending technique)

The blanket stitch creates a decorative motive to the ends of fabric and is best used for hem repair of sleeves, legs and dresses as well as stretch fabrics.

Blanket Filling Stitch

A net like stitch in white thread on denim fabric, a type of mending technique

Adding multiple levels of the blanket stitch creates the Blanket filling stitch. a nettling like covering perfect for wider holes. See how to make it here.

Straight Stitch

Straight stitch patterns in canvas as a form of mending technique

The basis of most motifs, this mending technique creates lines that either join together or not (spaces in between). Floral motifs usually start with multiple straight stitches in one direction. 

When mending a garment, using multiple embroidery creates stunning pieces that can add creativity to your wardrobe. Try your hand on this tutorial on fixing a cashmere sweater here.

Mending Technique: Darning

A form of embroidery, this mending technique seals holes, rips and tears by combing patchwork and visible sewing techniques.  Its seats firmly between patchwork and embroidery to me hence deserves its own heading.  Many countries created their own darning techniques making it rich in heritage as well as design.

These three darning styles are a must in any creative mending arsenal:

Kogin Stitch

A darning stitch in red thread in the shape of a diamond on loose woven fabric courtesy of practicalembroidery.eu

Unusually seen with a piece of fabric in the center, this mending technique created shapes using a running stitch.  This darning stitch comes from Japan and has a long history, read more about it here.


A collection of different fabrics in blue hues featuring decorative stitches

Similar to quilting, this style comes from Japan as well and creates geometric motifs on the surface of the fabric. 


Scotch Darning

Gray fabric with circular darning stitches. Image from Praticalembroidery.eu.

A woven stitch, this mending technique weaves through the fabric going under and over the fabric instead of using an anchor thread (similar to a gathering stitch).  Perfect for woven fabrics, this stitch follows the natural weave of the fabric.


I love patchwork and it has its origins in Ancient Egypt despite becoming a staple for alternative fashion set in the UK and America. Ralph Lauren used patchwork in his designs early in his career and can still be seen gracing the runways today. However, patchwork featuring prints on scrap fabric and embroidery patches are not the only ways to mend clothes, try these techniques to bust through fabric scraps and add some color to neutral colored staples:

Japanese Boro

Left image of different fabric scraps with scissors and thread and on the right a brown women with an afro wearing a patchwork jacket and tan pants

This mending technique uses scrap fabrics as a decorative way to hide holes and add pops of colors.   Originally, the quilting technique was applied to extend the life of ragged and tattered clothes and household items by sewing patches in place with sashiko, a simple running stitch. Typically sewn in a pattern of parallel lines, the overall sashiko design was unique to each item. Years of patching and repairing resulted in a one-of-a-kind garment or item that told a story (Threads Magazine, 3/22).


Applique quilt draped over a wicker chair with window in background

Applique uses scrap fabrics to create motifs that usually feature nature themes. Scrap fabric in contrasting colors create a bold contrast while weaving a tale with the garment. A descent cousin to quilting and considered a form of needlework, this mending technique means to fasten or apply in French.  The creations of applique motifs feature common shapes like ovals, squares, hearts and circles, making it easy to adapt to any image reproduction.  This mending technique covers large surfaces!


Red Sweater with a crochet patch in sky blue yarn on sleeve

Crochet mending, relatively new, uses a 1mm crochet hook to crochet around holes. This mending technique adds texture to garments and usually requires you to add holes around the outside of the hole (if garment is not knitwear). The smaller holes use to create a guard stitch which enables you to crochet in the round to cover the hole. Another great mending technique for knitwear. Its origins date back to the 1960s in Scotland making it one of the newer forms of mending.

In conclusion, extending the life of your clothes leads to creative expression when incorporating one of these mending techniques as well as tell the story of how the clothes lived and its a sentimental journey worth recording.

Check out how we use mill ends (the ends of yarn left after production) to create crochet handbags and follow our mending series by signing the newsletter below.