While cleaning out my art studio, I came across a patch of mending from a workshop I took a while ago. It was an online class to learn visible mending using Sashiko stitching. I loved the idea of visible mending— making obvious what we typically try to hide and with an intention of lengthening the life of a piece of clothing. Feeling called towards a more mindful and sustainable life, I went into the workshop with a desire to grow my creative skill set and to practice the concept of “slow fashion”.
After watching the first tutorial, I attempted to mend an unraveling section of denim jeans. I was familiar with a running stitch in embroidery work, so I figured Sashiko stitching would be easy. But I soon realized it takes some skill to create a 2:3 ratio stitch in even rows. As I worked, my stitches became uneven and my rows grew more and more askew. I started over several times and wanted to quit. I struggled with the imperfection of my stitching.
Throughout the process, I observed my thoughts swirling between criticism towards my perceived lack of skill and an equally critical voice attacking the other for being so concerned with perfection. I had to repeatedly remind myself that this was my first try at something new. Despite the exhausting inner dialogue, I finished my first visible mending project.
Yes, there were wonky stitches. Yes, there were uneven rows. Yes, I struggled with darning the frayed edges. Yes, I wish I could have enjoyed the process with greater grace and ease. This single mending project shined a light on the cracked parts of myself. The insecurities and perceived imperfections, the voices that want to compare, the impatience that encourages me to rush rather than slow down and ease into a process. I find that it takes daily practice to experience myself through a lens of “enoughness”. But each time I recognize my insecurities, I grow the opportunity to greet them with loving kindness and deepening self-acceptance.
As I look again at my first Sashiko mending, I still see the flaws. I also see the functional beauty embedded in those careful wonky stitches. The imperfection is part of their charm. Their purpose of reclaiming is enough.
I celebrate how mending a pair of weathered jeans can become a teachable moment. Embodied in the frayed edges and crooked stitches is an invitation to accept my own vulnerabilities. Stitch by stitch, moment by moment I am reclaiming lost and once hidden parts of myself. I am embracing the inherent beauty that lives in the process and in the tender marks of passing time. I am more willing to make visible the mended and patched, the chipped and cracked, the blemished and the scarred parts of my life.