Narrative Mending

A Virtual Class with Karen Stevens

As long as there has been cloth, there has been mended cloth, or cloth that has needed mending. Historically, the more laborious or time-consuming the making of the cloth, the more urgent was the desire to repair and preserve it. Today, where cloth is more easily procured, and not always made by hand, mending has often fallen by the wayside.

Recently there has been a resurgence in the interest in mending. Borrowing from cultures like India and Japan, where a mending practice is still part of daily life, techniques for the repair of torn cloth are abundant. Mending comes with the satisfaction of keeping our garments alive and well, and out of the waste cycle.

As we wear our clothes, they become naturally imbued with the stories of our lives. Memories become part of the experience of our garments. Tears or holes can sometimes be the evidence of the plot lines of our day. Some aberrations of the fabric come with bold story, an event. Others are caused by the more mundane, habitual motions of our bodies as we move through our daily tasks. But all of these delicate, time-worn fabric events give us a recording of our selves.

What does it mean to mend in a narrative way? ‘Narrative Mending’ still retains its base in function – to preserve the usability of our garments. In Narrative Mending we take our repair work one step further – as we fix the broken cloth, we add consciously to the story, adding pictorial elements or other decorative markers. Over time, the story of our garment begins to deepen. Our garment becomes something of a visual journal.

In this workshop you will become a fearless mender. All of the techniques for structurally repairing your garment will be shown. Additionally, discussion in how to add design or figurative elements will be suggested and described, so that you will learn to see the holes and frays not simply as things to be fixed, but as opportunities to highlight your personal story.

Saturday, February 5th, 2022


11am – 1pm ET

Zoom, a link will be sent to participants the day before class.


What to Bring
Students should bring articles of clothing that are treasured and in need of mending (woven fabric is the focus of this class). You will also need assorted threads, pieces of woven fabric to use as patches, embroidery thread, scissors, and needles to match the sewing and embroidery thread you are using.

Karen Stevens

For the last 25 years, Karen has been a freelance CAD instructor, training textile and fashion designers to create knits, prints and wovens for the garment industry. But these days you are more likely to find her in her creatively cluttered studio than on her computer, adding one more vintage patch to a favorite pair of jeans or double gauze shirt. Her love of visible mending, natural fibers, hand dyed fabrics and slow stitching has recently turned into a small side business, creating one of a kind stitched curiosities.

Karen lives in rural Northwest CT with her family, a menagerie of pets wearing party hats, and an indigo dipped laundry line.

“You repair the thing until you make it completely.”     Louise Bourgeois

Upcomming Events

Related Products