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Eye-catching repairs

By Marie
Published on 24/08/2023

Mending clothes and objects that you love to give them a longer life? This is an idea that we love! Better still: don’t try to hide them; show off your repairs with pride.

A militant and creative act 

While our grandmothers would try to make their clothes repairs as inconspicuous as possible, people are no longer trying to hide their stitches: embroidery as a repair technique is becoming a reflection of engagement and creativity. Jennyfer, aka Jen Brode, fully believes in the beauty of visible repairs. She is inspired by the values of Atelier des Nouveaux Designs, a Lyon-based non-profit dedicated to recovering and upcycling materials destined for the bin. She runs embroidery workshops and takes training on repairs there: “We must give a second life to clothes! We need to make them last and stop throwing away jeans because they have a little hole in them!” More specifically, it is the art of visible mending that fills her with enthusiasm. 

“I love it when repairs are transformed into something decorative. It’s not easy though and people sometimes struggle. Having said that, you can have fun with it: depending on what the item is, you can really reinterpret it,” emphasizes Jennyfer. 

With her, moth holes are turned into colourful spots and little tears are covered with a piece of fabric of a contrasting colour… 

Various techniques are used. Among these, there is Sashiko, a traditional Japanese embroidery technique used to repair and strengthen work clothes by using repetitive geometric patterns. Zélia Smith, a local artisan who specialises in textiles, is an enthusiast:  “Sashiko really resonates with my work insofar as it is a technique that imposes its own temporality, forcing us to become conscious again of the time it takes to make things beautiful, useful and practical. It only takes a few seconds to throw away a pair of jeans or tote bag that is torn or has a hole in it, while it might take you a few hours to plan and do the repair… But the time taken to give it a second life and the satisfaction of having mended it, and then using it, is all the more beneficial.”

Clothes are not the only things to be getting conspicuous and creative repairs. Shoes and bags are renovated, died, and given a patina; broken plates are repaired using a line of gilded lacquer, as in the art of Kintsugi; old furniture is repainted, reupholstered and improved… We don’t know about you, but our resolution for the autumn will be to take care of the things around us and make them even more beautiful.

To your needles!

To find inspiration and advice in the area of textile repairs, don’t miss the next Knit Eat & Co. The fourth edition of this gathering of knitting enthusiasts will be held on the 23rd and 24th of September. In addition to knitting, this year’s programme will also include sewing. You will find 40 exhibitors, 20 workshops and plenty of opportunities to touch materials and learn new techniques.

Address book 

Visible mending is the new black

A big fan of visible mending, Jennyfer will be spreading the word at Knit Eat & Co. Her workshops are already fully booked, but you will be able to chat with her at her stand. She also runs a monthly embroidery workshop with open topics at the Atelier des Nouveaux Designs (49 Rue Smith, Lyon 69002): “With embroidery, the most important thing is to take your time. These workshops offer a way for people to find time in their daily schedules.

Jen Brode

Saviour of sneakers

He may no longer have his shop in Lyon’s 6th district, but that hasn’t stopped David Cantera from saving our sneakers, far from it. Since 2017, the former owner of the Modern Art Café has been blowing the cobwebs out of cobbling and breathing new life into sneakers that have clocked up too many miles. In addition to his dazzling restorations, David also provides a customization service.

L'art de la pompe

Furniture facelifts

Töö is the place to come if you’re looking to tastefully renovate that armchair you unearthed at the flea market Les Puces du Canal. Alice Bernaudat explains: “We like contrasting an old-fashioned armchair with a modern fabric, while preserving its spirit. The idea is to give the chair a new life by allowing it to fit in with a modern interior, without transforming it into a contemporary furniture item.” Töö also runs introductory upholstery workshops.

3 rue du Chariot-d’Or, Lyon 4e

Learn the art of Sashiko

Zélia Smith got interested in Sashiko right in the middle of a lockdown: “At the start, this practice is governed by various rules, but you can easily make them your own, or even hack them, to do repairs and create fun, meditative ornamentations.” In her book, L’Atelier Sashiko, she shows how simple and relaxing the process is, through 20 embroidery projects to repair and customize clothes or everyday objects.

Zélia Smith
L’Atelier Sashiko, by Zélia Smith, photographs by Chloé Lapeyssonnie, at Marabout, €12,90

Picking up the threads

Keep an eye on the programme of workshops run by Olivia Ferrand, an artisan specialised in textiles, at her workshop in Caluire. You can learn how to repair clothes and knitwear, by adopting the visible mending approach, because “finding a hole in clothes that you’ve bought is a pain, but it’s even worse in a jumper that you knitted yourself!”

Olivia Ferrand

Expert fingers

Would you like to repair that tear in a jacket or update that coat that your grandma gave you, but don’t have the manual skill to do it yourself? Make an appointment and head to Le Textile Lab, located on Les Pentes (the slopes of Croix-Rousse hill), where you will find an alterations service. They can repair and adjust your clothes, and even transform items that are too damaged or too dull, according to your wishes.

Le Textile Lab
35 & 30 rue Leynaud, Lyon 1er

Putting the pieces back together

Kintsugi is a Japanese technique used to repair broken ceramics using plant-based lacquer dusted with gold powder. This art was born from a philosophy known as ‘Wabi-sabi’, or the beauty of imperfection. Matthias Roy fell in love with it during a lockdown. He now offers a repair service and runs introductory courses, at the Espace Lyon-Japon  (16 rue Bellecombe, Lyon 6e) among other places.

L'Atelier Minimal

A fool's errand?

Emeline Lemercier and Virginie Bussière like to quote Montesquieu : ‘I have always observed that to succeed in the world one should appear like a fool but be wise.’ While some might say that starting a business at the height of a pandemic is foolish, who could argue that giving leather back its life and shine is unwise? Whether you want to repair a ripped, scratched or mistreated bag (or seat, trunk or steering wheel for that matter), or change the colour of an item that no longer pleases you, Sage Folie performs wonders.

Sage Folie
19 rue Royale, Lyon 1er