Books on repairing and alterations

We bring a selection of sewing and mending books along to our Ealing Repair Cafe sessions. It really helps for people to see the potential visible mending and alterations. So I thought it would be useful to share the books here. When writing these review I started reading through the books again and came across this quote in Mending matters and this has struck true for me and others that have joined us at Ealing Repair cafe:

“Here’s my motto: Just begin. Begin this journey with whatever skills you have today and trust that you will deepen your relationship to fashion as you continue.

You’ll improve techniques as you practice. You’ll gain insights and confidence as you navigate forward. You’ll make one small change today and that has the potential to result in a huge change a decade from now.

My hope is that we slow down and think about our wardrobes and the part they play in creating healthy people and a healthier planet. And yes, I believe that’s all possible from learning some basic stitches and mending our beloved blue jeans.”

Katerina Rodabaugh, Mending Matters, 2018

The books we have so far cover general visible mending, essential sewing and mending techniques, simple alterations to the Japanese sashiko mending style which can be simple as running stitch to complex stitch designs. So here is the list of our favourites from the Ealing Repair Cafe Library.

For buying books, we recommend:

  • Order through your local bookshop: Locally in Ealing we have The Pitshanger Bookshop, Waterstones in Ealing Broadway and many charity shops selling books.
  • Wordery that use paper and cardboard packaging made from recycled materials. 
  • Wob: World of books have huge selection of second hand books that are sourced through charities and is a not for profit company.

So here is our collection of books so far with a short review. Please comment below if you have any to add.

Make& Mend: The Japanese Art of Sashiko Embroidery-15 Beautiful Visible Mending Projects By Jessica Marquez (2019)

Introduction to using Japanese sashiko techniques using hand sewing to make fabric items and other projects to visibly mend clothes. The first section: Made has 8 projects to master the stitches, such as tote bag, floor cushion and shibori dyed scarf. Next section: Mend has projects on mending clothes in a sashiko style to patch and darn. The book includes lots of photos to illustrate techniques used. The final section covers many hand stitching sashiko patterns which is great to refer to recreate these stitch patterns. Buy from Wordery

Mending Matters: Stitch, Patch, and Repair Your Favorite Denim & More By Katrina Rodabaugh (2018)

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” (Arthur Ashe). The book starts with an inspiring introduction on slow fashion and how important it is to rebalance our lives and the planet. Methods covered include visible mending using hand stitches, starting with basic techniques. The book focuses on sashiko boro (running stitch) technique and includes many examples of both exterior/outside patches and interior/inside patches. It also shows examples of visible stitching and less visible stitching. The last chapter covers upcycling projects, such as tote bag out of old denim jean. Brilliant book to inspire you. Buy from Wordery

Visible Mending Artful Stitchery to Repair and Refresh Your Favorite Things By Jenny Wilding Cardon (2018)

This is one of our favourite reference books for visible mending. Its the simplicity and variety of projects in the book. Sadly out of print now, but you can find it second hand on the link above or on ebay and I think its well worth searching out. It covers both hand-stitching and machine mending, which most other books don’t. It includes boro (running) stitch, hand embroidery, patches, darning and mending by machine. Each chapter starts describing the equipment needed for each technique and the basic stitches. Then shows examples of projects for each chapter. A great book covering a lot of the possible techniques for repairing clothes. Buy from Blackwells

Practical Sew and Mend: Essential Mending Know-How By Joan Gordon (2016)

Great book on general and diverse range of mends. The introduction opens with in-depth list of equipment and fabric. It covers basic knowhow such as threading a needle to undoing stitches and sewing stitches. The book covers variety of issues such as buttons and closures, seams to hems and reducing or increasing a waistband. This book is a great allrounder on how to fix clothing issues.
Buy from Wordery

Simple Tailoring and Alteration By J. Francois-Campbell (2016)

Excellent book if you looking to start with sewing and altering clothes. It takes you through different types of fabric, sewing equipment and great illustrations on how to do various types of hand stitches. The chapters go through how to alter clothes including skirts, dresses, trousers, jackets, shirts and coats. Buy from Waterstones

Really Cross Stitch: For when you just want to stab something a lot
By Rayna Fahey in English (2017)

My love of craft and activism has comes together more and more, so wanted to include a book covering this part of my sewing and crafting. Cross stitch is very addictive and simple to start. This book has some powerful and sometimes a little rude messages for us to remember there is power in stitching too.
Buy from Wordery

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