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Kintsugi Mending

The kintsugi repair ends up being barely visible because it’s on the inner thigh—you can only see it from certain angles.

kintsugi bowl 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.

ripped belt loop
Ripped belt loop. Guess it happened from using them to tug up my jeans all the time.
mended belt loop
Mended belt loop. I was worried that the thread would look tacky, but instead it has a beautiful, elegant glimmer to it.

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:

missing button
I’m not sure how the button came off.
replaced button
Took me a couple tries to hammer the new button in, but I got it in the end and it seems sturdy enough.

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.

chub rub tear
I’ve gotten rid of so many pants because of these tears.

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.

embroidery hoop
Trying to patch this without putting it on a hoop was awful. This hoop is 4″ in diameter, making the tear about 3″ long.

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.

kintsugi patch
The kintsugi repair ends up being barely visible because it’s on the inner thigh—you can only see it from certain angles.

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.

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This is an archive of an inactive blog. My thoughts and opinions may have changed since the publication of these posts.

Me and Adventure Time princesses in the Short North
Me and Adventure Time princesses in the Short North

Hi everyone! I'm Stephany, a 20-something grad student in linguistics who loves doing any kind of DIY stuff. You'll find recipes and instructions for arts and crafts here, plus whatever other lifestyle posts strike my fancy. Feel free to leave questions and comments on my posts or send a private message. If referencing me in the third person, please use they/them pronouns. Thanks, and enjoy your stay!

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