When I found this Pendleton 100% wool shirt donated a few months ago, I was shocked. Pendleton?! Donated?! In this economy?! And in Portland, Oregon of all places. Pendleton brand items can get you good money on the resale market here in the Pacific Northwest. They’re known for their high quality, American-made, wool blankets and clothing. However, once I took a good look at the shirt, I found and saw the reasons why it had been donated. It was a bit stained, covered in tiny holes, and missing some buttons, but for someone who likes a little DIY patch mending project and has some vision, I saw how I could make this Pendleton perfect for me. Time to give it a new life with some DIY patch mending.
Firstly, I took a look at the shirt and tried to count all the holes I could spot. It’s helpful to hold it up to the light to see where the fabric is worn through. The holes on my shirt were all pretty tiny and could be covered by a dime, but there were at least a dozen of them. I could stitch them to mend them, but I loved the idea of teeny tiny patch appliqués covering all the holes. I grabbed the shirt and brought it with me to my local sewing store. I wanted to make sure that the patches I purchased were larger than the holes themselves so that once they were applied they stabilized the fabric from the holes growing any larger.
I picked up some little daisy patches, but towards the end of my project, I had a few more holes to patch up and needed to go buy more. I ended up with hearts and a butterfly patch later as I’d bought all their daisy patches previously. If you want all your patches to match, make sure you take a really good count of how many holes you need to cover.
Dyeing Your Fabric
Remember those stains I mentioned earlier? I decided that I wanted to dye my shirt as well, and I decided to do a dip dye ombré. To do this, I bought an indigo dye kit, and prepared it as the instructions stated. After waiting for the dye to be ready, I made sure my shirt was soaked through with water, wrung out, and dipped it in the dye bath. I dipped it about 10 times total, letting it oxidize a little between the dips for a few seconds outside my bucket and then dipping it again. To achieve the ombre, after a few full garment dips, I started putting less and less of the garment into the dye bath, doing about 3 or so dips per height. Once I finished dyeing it, I rinsed it out in a bucket of clean water. Let your garment dry fully. The stains weren’t too pronounced, so just over dyeing them was somewhat successful, but I usually find the best way to cover stains with dye to be strategic tie-dye.
Once the dyeing process was completed, I ran it through a delicate cycle (because it’s wool) in my washing machine. This will help any excess dye release from the garment and it’s best to do a few cycles. After letting the shirt air dry, it was time to apply the patches!
Ironing on the Patches
I set my iron to wool its wool setting, but you should set your iron to whatever fabric you are using. Locate the holes in your garment. One by one, apply the patches over the holes. You want to make sure the patch is centered over the hole and that there’s no part of the hole left visible after you apply it. Use a thin cotton cloth, such as a dish towel, to protect your fabric as you apply the patch. It’s as easy as placing the towel over the patch and ironing with that barrier. Patch not sticking? Make sure you’re using an iron on patch and pressing down over the patch with a warm iron for 15-20 seconds. Repeat on the inside without the towel buffer. Continue to repeat that process on each side as needed if your patch is not sticking, increasing the temperature of the iron cautiously. Try your best to find all the holes, go back in with more patches if you need to.
Adding New Buttons
Next thing to repair on my list was replacing buttons! I didn’t have any spare that I knew of, so I bought some wooden ones at Jo-Ann’s. I tried to match the size to the ones already on the shirt and it turned out they didn’t have enough to replace all of the buttons including the ones still attached, so I chose just to replace the two that were missing. Replacing buttons is a very simple sewing process even the most beginner crafter can and should learn how to do!
And this was my final product! I think of it as a little ode to mending, an ode to seeing new life in something. I love that I can visibly see the repairs I made and that it tells a story, and I hope to give this Pendleton the life it deserves in my closet– wearing it up peaks and around campfires here in the PNW!