Flat lay of various mending tools and materials like threads, needles, markers, pins, scissors

Mending tools and materials. What you need to get started with visible mending

Mending and repairing clothes were standard practices throughout the centuries. Our ancestors valued the work put into creating the garments and cared for their clothes well. Simple mending tools and materials were used. Traditional mending and darning techniques like Sashiko, Boro, Kogin, patchwork, and applique were born to preserve clothes and make them last.

Mass production and the fast fashion industry, with low-quality garments and affordable prices, broke the traditions of mending, repairing, and adjusting clothes.

The world now consumes about 80 billion new pieces of clothing every year. This is 400% more than the amount we consumed just two decades ago.

Fashion Revolution, ‘Can we mend our relationship with repairing clothes? – #MendItMay’

Modern consumers have lost the knowledge of how to mend clothes and find it easier to dispose of damaged garments and buy new ones. 

“A mountain of discarded clothes in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile has reached such huge proportions that it can be seen from space.” Says the headline of an article on space.com

And this colossal garment pile is growing by about 39,000 tons a year. 

So, what can we do about it?

Learn basic mending skills

How to repair jeans tutorial step 3 - embroider

Mending your clothes may seem like a highly complicated task. 

But fear not! Core sewing and embroidery skills will help you to repair most of your clothes.

Where to start learning?

Choose the method of mending

Colorfully mended jeans with patches and sashiko stitching

First of all, evaluate the damage. Is your garment torn, stained, or worn out? How big is the area you need to cover?

Then, think about what mending style inspires you. Colorful patches, subtle Sashiko darning, floral embroidery?  The art of mending comes in different styles and sizes.

Now, you can look for creative mending ideas and choose your method.

Where to find creative mending ideas?


My Pinterest boards “Embroidery on clothes,” “Embroidery on knitwear,” and “Visible mending, fixing and darning clothes” will give you some ideas.


Some of my favorite mending accounts are:

@modernmending, @milli_and_the_bee, @wrenbirdmends, @barnburnermending, and @mindful_mending.

Mending books

Choose mending tools and materials

Mending tools and materials hoop egg and thread

There is a wide variety of tools and materials that you could use for mending. For various mending projects, you will need different equipment. You will need darning needles, wool yarn, or a knitwear brush to fix a wool sweater. Sewing notions and fabric scraps are the materials for patching clothes. For jeans, cotton threads and fabric for patches are used, and so on.

I shortlisted my favorite tools and materials for mending in the list below. 

The list got long, but fear not. Remember that you may have some materials at home, so use what you have beforehand. It is the most sustainable choice for eco-friendly mending.

Disclaimer. To cover the cost of creating free embroidery patterns and video tutorials for this blog, I do sometimes link to products. Please assume these links are affiliate links. If you choose to buy through my links then THANK YOU – it will make it possible for me to keep doing this.

Embroidery hoops

Embroidery hoops will help you keep the fabric’s tension while you patch, embroider, or darn it. It is a tool you will need in many DIY repair clothing projects.

Choose the size of the hoop according to the space you have. For example, you will need a smaller hoop to access the elbow of the shirt. 

To learn more about embroidery hoops, read the article “Embroidery hoops. Types, sizes, and how to choose the best hoop for hand embroidery.”

Beechwood embroidery hoops Etsy
Shop HoopArtStitch

Beechwood embroidery hoops

Beechwood embroidery hoops are a golden standard of wooden embroidery hoops. They are robust and have a smooth surface. There are no splinters that can snag your threads or hurt your fingers. Also, it has solid and durable all-brass hardware for tension regulation with a screw.

Square plastic hoops Nurge Etsy
Shop LucaSCrossStitch

Square plastic embroidery hoops

Square (rectangular) plastic embroidery hoops are perfect for most needlecraft, embroidery & mending needs. The hoops are lightweight and rigid. They make it easy to sew into corners. 

A notch in one hoop fits into a groove on the other, keeping the fabric firm when sewing.

Bamboo hoops Etsy
Shop Rosemarys Hand Made

Bamboo hoops

Bamboo embroidery hoops are a more affordable alternative to birchwood hoops. They are not so robust but really do their work. Use it for fabric darning or embroidery on clothes if you have one.


Another significant group of mending tools is the needles. You will need a different type of needle for various tasks. Choosing the right needle will make your hand embroidery, darning, or mending process more pleasant and easy. 

I listed the types of needles you might need for mending below. If you want to learn more about needles for hand embroidery, read the article “Hand embroidery needles and all you need to know to choose the right one” on this blog.

Bohin Embroidery Needles Etsy
Shop SeedStitchStudioShop

Embroidery needles

I like the Bohin needles and use their embroidery, sewing, and quilting needles daily. Grab a discovery pack, and you will have a wide choice of sizes for various tasks.

Sashiko Needles Etsy
Shop Snuggly Monkey

Sashiko needles

These longer needles are indispensable for all darning tasks, Sashiko stitching, and Boro or Kogin mending projects.

Knitters Needles Etsy
Shop toollySHOP

Darning needles (aka knitter needles)

These needles are created for sewing knitwear pieces together. They are indispensable for mending knitwear. These needles have a large eye for bulky wool yarn, round point & super smooth surface.

Latch hook Etsy
Shop Speedweve

Needles with latch hook eye

These needles, also called Ladder darners, are snap hooks used to repair knitted fabrics, also known as ladders or latch hooks, stocking run menders, and the run mender for any silk stockings.

These needles resemble crochet hooks and are indispensable for mending knitwear and jersey fabrics.


Often, this tool gets the least of our attention, but the scissors may significantly impact the smooth mending process.

I listed the types of scissors you will need for mending below. I recommend reading the article “Scissors for Hand Embroidery” on this blog to learn more about this sharp tool.

Embroidery Scissors Etsy
Shop TheFeltPod

Embroidery scissors

These small, sharp scissors are one of the must-have tools for a smooth mending process. They cut both the threads and the fabric. If you can get only one tool for cutting – choose high-quality embroidery scissors.

Pinking shears Etsy
Shop Primrose Cottages

Pinking shears

Pinking shears are scissors with a zigzag blade. The purpose of these zigzag-tooth shears is to trim fabric and keep it from fraying. These scissors are handy for patching projects as they prevent your patches from fraying.

Seam ripper Etsy
Shop Littlelegsfabrics

Seam ripper

One more handy instrument to add to your box of hand sewing tools – a seam ripper. It has a sharp blade and a rounded tip to prevent fabric damage when ripping the seams.

Darning tools

This group of tools is designed to help you speed up the darning process. You can frame the fabric in a hoop and embroider the Weave stitch over the hole, but it’s not always an option. 

Darning Loom Etsy
Shop Speedweve

Weave loom (aka darning loom)

This mending device is made from a wooden disc and a metallic part with hooks. It speeds up the weaving process and helps you create original woven patches on your clothes to cover up the holes or stains. Besides that, you can apply the woven patches on the narrow pieces like the sleeves.

Darning mushroom with elastic band Etsy
Shop ArtfromHolland

Darning mushroom

A darning mushroom is a classical tool for mending knitwear. I remember that both my grandmothers had one, and my mom is still using the one that my grandma had. I considered it a toy as a child, but it is a handy tool. 

This simple device allows you to keep the tension of the fabric while you are mending it. It works great on narrow spaces like elbows and will enable you to repair curved surfaces like the heels of the socks.

Darning egg Etsy
Shop toollySHOP

Darning Egg

A darning egg is a cousin of the darning mushroom. It is an egg-shaped mending tool made of stone, porcelain, wood, or similar hard materials. The egg is inserted into the toe or heel of the sock to hold it in the proper shape and provide a foundation for repairs. This tool is smaller than the mushroom and has surfaces with different curve levels for different needs.

Pins, Safety pins

This group of mending supplies is handy for sewing, repairing, upcycling textiles, and patching projects. These tools keep two pieces of fabric together while we apply the stitches.

Sewing Pins with White Glass Head Etsy
Shop toollySHOP

Sewing pins

High-quality dressmaker pins are essential for sewing, mending, and making. Opt for fine steel pins that will not rust. Also, choose the pins with glass heads – they do not melt when accidentally ironed.

Safety Pins Etsy
Shop BlueArrowExpress

Safety pins

Sometimes, sewing pins are not an excellent option to keep the fabric in place while you stitch. To avoid basting the patches to the garment, pin them with safety pins and start sewing immediately. Your fingers will thank you for saving them from stabbing with sharp pins.

Sewing Clips Etsy
Shop BedazzledSupplies

Sewing clips

Sewing clips are a classical notion for sewing with the sewing machine. But I use them a lot in my mending project, too. They are great for temporarily securing the folds and edges of the fabrics while you work on them. Like safety pins, they will save your fingers from stabbing with the pins and let you skip the basting part.


One more group of the underestimated tools – the thimbles. I’m sure your grandma had one. Mine had more than one, and I greatly liked playing with them.

Over time, I gathered a collection of thimbles too. 

The list of thimbles I recommend for anyone sewing, mending, darning, or creating with fibers:

Sewing Thimble Etsy
Shop ChloeArtCrafts

Sewing thimble

A sewing thimble is a classical tool to protect your fingers from stabbing and piercing while you sew, embroider, or darn. This model of the thimble is half open, so your fingers will not sweat while working.

Leather Palm Thimble for Sashiko Etsy
Shop snugglymonkey

Leather palm thimble

If you do a lot of darning and Sashiko embroidery, opt for the palm thimble. Leather sashiko thimbles are traditionally worn low on the middle finger and over the palm of your hand to help push the long sashiko needles through the fabric. The elastic cord makes the thimble adjustable to just about any finger size for comfortable wear.

Sashiko Thimble Etsy
Shop snugglymonkey

Sashiko thimble ring

Another option for Sashiko and Boro lovers – is a metal thimble ring. Palm thimbles are typically worn on the middle finger with a flat plate on the palm of the hand to allow you to push long needles through several layers of fabric.

Needle Pullers Etsy
Shop snugglymonkey

Needle pullers

These funny-looking silicone thimbles are a great help when pulling a stubborn needle through many layers of fabric. I use these a lot when mending denim fabrics.

Fabric marking tools

In the thick of embroidery for repair or darning, you will need to transfer the pattern to the fabric or mark the area for mending. Listed below are some fabric marking tools that I recommend to have. 

You can read more about the pattern-transferring tools in these articles:

Fabric Marker Etsy
Shop Gingermelon

Fabric marker

Fabric markers are a must-have item in the mending toolbox. Every clothing repair guide will suggest you get one. A water-soluble marker and disappearing pen 2in1 is an excellent solution. One part of the marker will leave washable marks. The other – will create temporary marks that will disappear in a couple of hours.

Tailors chalk pencil for fabric Etsy
Shop JessLongEmbroidery

Tailor’s chalk pencil for fabric

This marking tool is a great solution for dark fabrics. You can remove those marks with a damp cloth or wash them.

Friction Pens Etsy
Shop Kenna’s Quilts

Friction pen

Friction/heat-erasable pens are my go-to tool for markings, pattern transfers, and even taking notes while crafting. They come in many colors and make a very thin and clear mark on the fabric. Also, the marks are effortless to remove with the iron.


Like it or not, some repairs require some glue. The glue is convenient for mending leather accessories, shoes, or outdoor wear.

Fabric Glue pack Etsy
Shop ClothDollPatterns

Permanent Fabric Glue

This glue set for fabrics and crafts will satisfy any need. Each bottle contains a different adhesive for versatile use in your crafting projects, and each one boasts a tapered tip for easy, accurate application right where you want it. Use this fabric glue to secure materials together, decorate clothing, and temporarily repair hems and edges.

Glue Pen Etsy
Shop TwistedThreadsFabric

Glue stick

A washable glue stick might be an excellent solution for temporary adhesion when patching your garments. Instead of basting or pining the fabric patch, you can glue it on the clothing you are adjusting. The glue will be removed with the next wash.


Another crucial group of mending materials is stabilizers. Some will help with pattern transfers. Others – will eliminate basting from the patching process. 

If you care to learn more about water-soluble stabilizers for embroidery – read “The Ultimate Guide to Water-Soluble Stabilizers for Hand Embroidery” on this blog.

Water Soluble Stabilizer Sulky Etsy
Shop SChandworks

Water soluble stabilizers

Printable stick and peal water soluble stabilizer is a material for a fast and straightforward embroidery pattern transfer to the garment you want to mend. You can draw your pattern on the paper or print it out.

Fusible Interlining Fabric Etsy
Shop BiasBespoke

Fusible interlacing fabric

This material, widely used by sewists, is convenient for holding two pieces of fabric together while you darn them. I use this fusible fabric for mending tears in the jeans. Apply fusible interlacing material on the back side of the garment and apply darning stitches above. The mending will be almost invisible if you use a sewing machine and a matching color thread.

Double Sided Dissolvable Stay Tape Etsy
Shop HectorsHouseSupplies

Double Sided Dissolvable Stay Tape

Prym Wonder Tape is a water-soluble double-sided tape and is a practical alternative to pins. Use it instead of hand basting to keep the area you wish to sew flat. It works well when installing zippers, especially on fleece or Jersey fabrics.


No mending would be possible without the threads. What threads to choose for your mending project will depend on various factors. 

  • What is the garment you want to fix? 
  • What materials is it made from?
  • What is your creative idea?

Below, I shortlisted only a few threads mainly used for fabric repairs and upcycling textiles. 

To learn more about hand embroidery threads, read this article – “Embroidery floss and threads. An in-depth guide to hand embroidery threads, floss, and other types of yarn you can use to embroider.”

Wool Darning Yarn Etsy
Shop toollySHOP

Wool darning yarn

Thin wool darning yarn is a great choice when you need to mend knitwear and do not have matching yarn. This wool comes in various colors, so you will undoubtedly find a matching color for an invisible mend or a bright color combo for an extremely visible fix.

DMC Embroidery Floss Etsy
Shop ReynYarnStudio

Embroidery floss

My favorite embroidery floss is produced by DMC. It comes in five hundred colors and will surely satisfy your creative needs. Besides that, embroidery floss is made from six threads, so you can choose how many threads to use to reach any thickness of the stitches.

DMC embroidery floss is 100% cotton, perfect for all cotton clothes. The colors do not bleed, and the floss is machine-washable.

Sashiko Thread Embroidery Floss Etsy
Shop Contedefeesstudio

Sashiko thread

Sashiko thread is specially made for sashiko embroidery – 6 strands are twisted to form one thread that can’t be separated like standard embroidery thread. This cotton thread is fantastic for mending jeans.

DMC Pearl Cotton Thread Etsy
Shop MillionOfStitches

Pearl cotton

Another robust cotton thread is Pearl cotton. This luminous cotton thread is highly mercerized, non-divisible, and on a twisted skein.


Sometimes, our knitwear and jumpers look like a hot mess, not because they are torn or have holes, but because of the pill that has formed from wearing them. Several tools can help de-pill these messy sweaters.

Lint Shaver Etsy
Shop HQFabrics

Electric lint shaver

One of the methods you can use to revive your knitwear is to use a lint shaver. It leaves woolen clothing looking like new in the twinkling of an eye. Behind the shaving head with holes, a shear device with sharp blades rotates. When you pass this over the material, applying slight pressure, it shaves the protruding lint and little knots off and collects them in its collection cup.

Lilly Brush Etsy
Shop ThePatchworkFrogYarn

Knitwear brush

This little brush safely removes pills, lint, and fluff to make delicate sweaters look new again. There is no risk of damaging the surface with a shaver when using this brush.

Sweater Comb Etsy
Shop MilaChristinaNewYork

Sweater combs

Using knitwear combs is another way to efficiently and gently de-pill any delicate knits and fine-gauge woolens, keeping them looking as good as new! It will also do wonders on your cashmere sweaters.

Other materials for mending clothes

Besides the tools mentioned above, some other tools and materials could be helpful for your next project.

Wool felting kit Etsy
Shop TheGeneralBeanSupply

Wool for felting kit

Did you know that instead of sewing, darning, or patching the hole, you can cover it with a layer of felt? This kit has all the necessary tools and materials to start mending this way.

Denim Patches Etsy


Patching is one of the most popular mending techniques. You can use fabric scraps to patch your garments or get a beautiful embroidered patch and simply sew it above the hole.

Washable Mending Transfers Etsy
Shop wrenbirdarts

Washable Mending Transfers

If you have no time to draw the designs to the fabric, grab washable mending transfers already printed with the patterns. Simply stick the transfer to the area to be mended, stitch the pattern, and then rinse off the sticker, and reveal your precise stitched design.

Frequently asked questions about mending tools and materials and repairing clothes

Socks mended with Scotch darning stitch

What is mending?

Mending clothing is repairing defects that have developed from being well-worn. These include tears, holes, consumed, thin or worn-out fabric, missing buttons, or permanent stains. Mending clothes can be visible or invisible.

What thread should I use for mending jeans?

how to mend jeans tutorial step 3 choose thread colors

Use 100% cotton thread. The jeans are cotton, so the matching fiber threads fit the best. You can choose from sashiko thread, pearl cotton, embroidery floss, quilting thread, or any cotton threads you have.

In my mending jeans by hand project, I used DMC embroidery floss.

What is the difference between mending and darning?

Darning is just one of the mending techniques, like patching, sewing, or seam repair.

What are the methods of mending?

The mending methods include darning, patching, sewing, fusing, gluing, applique, and embroidery.

What are the best stitches for mending?

The most common stitches for mending are Backstitch, Running stitch, Darning stitch, Blanket stitch, and Duplicate stitch. You can learn more about the best stitches for mending in the article “Hand Embroidery Stitches For Mending. Best Embroidery Stitches To Learn For Mending, Darning, And Adjusting Your Clothes“.

Denim mended with blanket stitch filling light blue jeans

What will you mend first?

Do you have a garment you love and wear a lot, but you can’t wear it anymore because of some kind of damage? Try to mend it!

Grab mending tools and materials suited for the project, learn basic mending skills and stitches, and give your clothes another chance to serve you.

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