Kintsugi (金継ぎ) (Japanese: golden joinery) or Kintsukuroi (金繕い) (Japanese: golden repair) is the Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum, a method similar to the maki-e technique. As a philosophy it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise.
When I saw metallic golden embroidery thread at the craft store today, I immediately thought of the kintsugi method and wondered if it could be applied to clothing repair as well. I have a couple pairs of jeans with some minor tears that I wanted to fix up, and I’m pleased to say that the result is quite lovely.
I whipstitched the torn fabric and whipstitched/satin stitched the small upper tear closed. I then backstitched over the mended fabric to complete the repair. I actually used to hate stitching things by hand and would avoid hand-stitching whenever possible, but, after hand-stitching twelve goat-ear headbands a few weeks ago, I’ve come to love it. Odd how making myself practice something I thought I’d hate made me much more comfortable with the skill.
While I was at it, I also repaired the button on the front:
I’m also super happy with how the second pair of jeans turned out. I dug these up as I was cleaning out my townhouse this week. I love the print so much, but I had planned to toss the pants because of the inevitable chub rub tear in the inner thigh.
This tear was much longer than the belt loop tears, so I ended up using an embroidery hoop to keep the fabric manageable. I used a regular satin stitch to tighten up the gap.
The end result was a little less polished than the belt loop, but I’m still very happy to be able to salvage this pair of pants.
This second repair is particularly meaningful to me in keeping with the philosophy of the kintsugi method. I’ve always been self-conscious of my thunder thighs and of my pants developing these tears. But, in sewing my own clothing, and in mending my clothing, I’ve come to accept that my body doesn’t need fixing—my clothes are what can be changed. I’ve gained a lot of weight since my college years, but I’m actually happier with my body nowadays. The golden embroidery thread only serves to highlight that this pair of pants is so dearly loved that I bothered to spend this much effort to mend it.