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Make Do and Mend – A Guide to Repurposing

The ‘Make Do and Mend’ philosophy has been gaining traction recently and we’re delighted – this is a great way to be more sustainable and to help avoid items heading for the scrapheap.

Join us as we delve into the world of creative mending and repurposing of existing furniture, objects and clothing. Here is how our Design Studio and other makers have been creative in re-imaging, re-using and mending.

Available from Shop Kit Kemp is our collection of Patchwork Toys. They are created from off-cut and recycled fabrics used by our Design Studio...

Artist Arounna Khounnoraj is a Toronto based maker who practises and teaches visible mending, which creatively fixes holes and damage to textiles by embroidering motifs over the top. Using an embroidery hoop to stretch the fabric, she marks out the intended shape and gets to work with a strong embroidery thread and a fishbone pattern stitch.

This brightly coloured wool jumper is from Collingwood-Norris who teach visible mending. The jumper was fit for purpose, except for its elbows which had worn away. Here they have used the technique of ‘Swiss darning’ to mend the jumper, which is specifically for knitted wool. Foundation strands are made over the holes to anchor the new knit, which copies the pattern of the existing and blends into the surrounding fabric. Embroidered birds make this truly special!

We recently discovered Flynn and Mabel and their online embroidery shop which is full of bespoke hoops, kits and patterns. This is a great way to upcycle some wardrobe items and bring a touch of charm to your jeans, jackets, jumpers and more!

Fiber artist Sarah Neubert rescued the fading and ripped fabric on this upholstered armchair with visible mending. She has created anchor stitches over the damage and weaved thick and colourful wool over the top to create a charmingly imperfect patchwork.

We always keep fabric offcuts here at our Design Studio, even the smallest fragments, as you never know when they will come in useful for a project. Here in room 1408 at The Whitby Hotel, a statement headboard by Kumi was created from old and damaged kimonos. If you look closely at the headboard, you can see a new level of detail with a collage of fabrics which have been hand-dyed and block printed.

In this fun example at Ham Yard Hotel, thread spools have been stacked and made into a colourful lamp with a turned base.

This rescued secretaire desk in the Suffolk Suite at Haymarket Hotel was painted on the outside to create an unusual but effective contrast. See also our tips for repurposing antique furniture here.

Opening in 2024 is Warren Street Hotel in New York and for our new hotel, we have repurposed some beautifully patinated antique wooden balustrade moulds. These could very well have been displayed as artwork, but their verticality, shape and decoration lend themselves well to being handsome table lamps.

We hope you’ve found inspiration to ‘make do and mend’! We’d love to see your creations, so share yours with us on Instagram @KitKempDesignThread.

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