I think mending is best taught sitting along side one another, and then practiced, practiced, practiced.
Before any stitch is sewn, you have to ask yourself: is this thing worth repair? We repair for all sorts of reasons. We mend because it is irreplaceable. We mend because we can’t afford to buy something new. We mend because what is in our hands is precious in some way.
I really like this list of questions about the object you are considering for repair:
- How extensive is the repair or damage?
- Do I have the knowledge and skill to repair it, or do I need to take the garment out for repair?
- Is the garment worth repairing? (Consider garment age, current fashion, fit, and its use in the wardrobe. If for a child, will it soon be outgrown or can it be handed down?)
- What is the time element involved in the repair? (Do I have the time to do it? Do I have the time to look for and see to someone else repairing it?)
- Can I afford to replace the garment at this time?
- Will the garment be worn after it is mended?
My objective with mending is first to get the thing back in circulation. In use is better than perfect. Perfect can be figured out later. It’s better to be wearing that sock again, even if your darning a little wonky. Your stitching gets better as you go. Utility and beauty. But first, utility.
In general, there are two main ways of textile mendings: Darning and Patching. On my beloved old LLBean sweater, you can see both. The navy block is a patch– whole cloth where the edges are turned under and stitched on top of the fraying knit. The white stitching are types of darning, Swiss darning to be precise.
I’ll post some more tutorials soon, but for beginners, I always start with the stocking darn. It’s quick and pretty easy. Start with a sock. Wool is best. Look for a hole or a worn spot to reinforce.
The British charity “Love You Clothes” has good general principles about care and repair for your clothes: https://www.loveyourclothes.org.uk/care-repair
Curiously, Patagonia has some pretty good tutorials on their website for mending all sorts of things. https://www.patagonia.com/worn-wear-repairs/