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New Life for Thrifted Jeans with DIY Visible Mending

Don’t love it? Can you give it a little love to make it last or use it in a new way? Sustainable living is about more than what we buy. It’s also about how we use things and how we make them last.

Read on about how we can choose more eco-friendly habits when we love what we have and make it last with a project like this simple DIY visible mending on these thrifted jeans.

Thrifted Jeans with DIY Visible Mending

Let’s talk about what these DIY thrifted jeans have to do with keeping up with the Joneses. I bought these jeans a couple of months ago at a high-end consignment shop. I loved the color, the fit, and the heavier weight of the denim. I assume the person who consigned these jeans passed them along because the trend of big distressed holes is fading.

Fashion cycles so quickly now. Clothes we’ve only worn only a few times and are still in great condition no longer feel relevant. That’s by design!

Fashion companies want your clothes to feel dated. They want you to feel self-conscious about what you’re wearing and that it’s no longer good enough, precisely so you’ll spend more money on their products, even when you have more than enough clothes in your closet. They want to create a need where there isn’t one. And so they rush cycles of fashion to artificially create fresh trends to fuel spending.

I never really fell for the excessively distressed denim look, and I also am not an avid follower of all of the latest trends. So I took home the jeans and knew I could make them mine.

Thrifted Jeans with DIY Visible Mending Before
Before visible mending
Thrifted Jeans with DIY Visible Mending After
After visible mending

Be weird and buck the status quo for sustainability

In a world driven by overconsumption, choosing sustainable alternatives means slowing down, bucking the trends a bit, and saying no to the status quo from time to time. If we want to be advocates for the planet, sometimes we’ve got to be just a little bit weird.

I envisioned breathing new life into these jeans by closing off the holes with a bit of visible mending. I have only the most basic of sewing skills, and I have no interest in trying to manage a sewing machine needle poking through this heavy denim. But I have plenty of embroidery floss from my elementary days making friendship bracelets. Can you believe I still have this stuff?

Repurposing thrifted blouse fabric for a visible mending patch

I wanted to keep the jeans pretty neutral, so I scanned the racks at a local thrift shop for a fabric with a small black and white print. I found a light blazer with just the right floral print to do the trick.

I could give you detailed DIY instructions for how I clumsily cut and hand-stitched floral patches under the distressed sections of these jeans. This visible mending tutorial will probably give you better instructions. But the gist is to cut a patch slightly larger than the hole, pin it under the open area, and use a running stitch to attach the patch to the jeans. I didn’t have a fancy pattern or vision in mind; I just went with my gut.

Sustainable living is about a mindset

Alternatively, I could tell you that sustainable living is often more about our mindset than any particular habit or practice. It’s about slowing down, accepting imperfections, and getting creative using things we already have.

It’s about taking a break from the rat race of “more is always better” and embracing the simplicity of using our hands and hearts to make do and make better.

Now I have a pair of new-to-me jeans that’s like none other. I’m not a trendsetter, and the jeans also don’t feel dated. I’ve taken them entirely off the timeline of fashion cycles predetermined by companies that strive to drive consumption at all costs.

Some might think my jeans are a little weird. A few have already told me how much they love them. No matter what others think, do you want to be weird with me?

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Jen Panaro

Jen Panaro, founder and editor-in-chief of Honestly Modern, is a self-proclaimed composting nerd and advocate for sustainable living for modern families. To find her latest work, subscribe to her newsletter, Sage Neighbor.

In her spare time, she’s a serial library book borrower, a messy gardener, and a mom of two boys who spends a lot of time in hockey rinks and on baseball fields.

You can find more of her work at Raising Global Kidizens, an online space to help parents and caregivers raise the next generation of responsible global citizens.

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