January 19, 2015


The question I posed last week about choosing a stronger, harder wearing thread than cotton embroidery floss for my jeans patching received quite a bit of traffic over on facebook. The discussions on both Odd Bird Studio and in the Slow Fashion Style group contained a wealth of information I will attempt to summarize here.

Stitches used to patch high stress areas will be subject to the same stress as the damaged section of clothing. Over time cotton thread, including Sashiko thread, will fray from continued friction and break from stress. Suggestions:
  1. Employ a heavy-duty, waxed cotton thread that will resist chafing and fraying from friction. And accept that the waxed coating will break down through repeated washings of the clothing.
  2. Embrace the limits of the materials and add stitching and additional layers of patches as necessary. 
  3. Consider the mending process a ritual to be practiced at a regular interval, such as weekly.
The orange-ish thread used to stitch the seams of jeans is a strong, heavy-duty polyester or cotton/polyester blend designed to withstand abuse. The synthetic component lends strength and elasticity to the thread making for longer lasting stitches. However, some folks find synthetic threads uncomfortable against the skin. Many of the following suggestions are cotton coated polyester. The skin will be exposed only to cotton, but the friction of skin against the strong thread may still cause irritation. Suggestions:
  1. Gütermann jeans thread, 100% polyester, and Coats & Clark jeans thread, cotton/poly
  2. Heavy duty button & carpet thread, cotton/poly (sometimes called button & craft thread)
  3. Gütermann top stitch or extra strong, 100% polyester
  4. Dental floss. Possibly not the most aesthetically pleasing choice, but it is strong and the waxed variety will prevent friction fraying.
I have yet to employ any of these threads or methods, but I did pick up a few spools of what was available locally, Coats & Clark button & craft thread. The plan is to employ these heavy-duty cotton covered polyester threads and approach mending these jeans as ritual. I will re-stitch the frayed areas of the crotch patch, using smaller stitches which I hope will act as reinforcement, and then work on the large patches needed on the knees and thighs. I am going to attempt darning for the first time, too, on a couple of spots on the thighs that have rubbed through the weft threads.


  1. Thanks for sharing these tips I'm also happy to be reminded that mending should be approached as a (weekly) ritual...I'm currently feeling overwhelmed by the pile and therefore am avoiding it altogether. Does this happen to you?

    1. Absolutely! I have an unpacked bag (a rather sizable tote bag) in which I consolidated all my clothes in need of mending. We moved house nearly 2 years ago. The bag remains unpacked. Some of those clothes have been waiting to be mended for so long that I have no idea what's in the pile.

      I have only just recently made a concerted effort to mend - and someday alter, although this makes me nervous - the clothes that I have rather than replace them with newer thrifted clothes. It is overwhelming. I've always had this intention (hence the pile of forgotten clothes in the mending tote), but am only now attempting to put it in practice. Like everything else, it is a work in progress. And I have to keep reminding myself it will always in be in progress, never complete. I have yet to make peace with that.