When an item of clothing is worn, it begins to show its age through a unique patina – threadbare areas, tears and holes are markers of a piece that has been much loved. These areas of damage don’t have to mean that a garment has reached the end of its life; instead, they can be repaired subtly or refreshed with visible mends.
Our repair specialists work to rescue any TOAST garment as part of our free Renewal service. Whether darned, reworked or visibly mended using techniques like sashiko repair, clothing begins to develop a patina, with imprints of your movements.
Here, we share stories from three of our customers about their knitwear pieces, which have been reimagined with creative visible mends. Any TOAST garment can be mended by our repair specialists, not just knitwear.
I live in Dundee with my husband and three children. I own and run Kitchen Press, an independent cookbook publisher. I do enjoy cooking but also eating, cycling, reading, and gardening. The piece TOAST repaired is my favourite blue merino wool Donegal sweater. I’ve always liked the shape of it – it sits on the hips and is fairly loose fitting so feels comfortably slouchy but isn’t too boxy. It is the perfect weight of wool so is perfect for layering or wearing on its own, which is why I have worn it within an inch of its life.
I have always loved Donegal wool with its subtle flecks of colour. I put it on and it just fit instantly with what I was wearing. It makes me think of family, really. My grandparents were Irish – not from Donegal, but I hold my Irish roots dear. The first weekend I had the sweater, I went to stay with my aunt and cousin in Nailsworth – they asked me at the end of the weekend if I had brought any other clothes with me.
The elbows were completely threadbare, the cuffs were ragged with wear and the sweater was just starting to look a bit sorry for itself. Repair specialist Emily used a variety of colours and darning techniques depending on the damage – holes were filled with traditional darning in contrasting colours, and the threadbare elbows were Swiss darned in stripes.
I gave Emily free rein. I liked the idea of creative and visible mending and of picking out colours you could see in the Donegal flecks. Now I can wear my sweater outside the house again. It has been sensitively restored and patched up in a sense, but in the most beautiful and unique way. It’s still my familiar old sweater but it now has some marvellous decorative flourishes where there used to be holes and tears. I love the fact that no one has a sweater like mine.
Simone Pereira Hind
I'm a Casting Director, working in Edinburgh. Outside work hours I spend a lot of time at the theatre and in the cinema, it's a very full time job. TOAST repaired my favourite sweater, which I’ve had for years. It’s a beautiful, figgy brown cashmere V-neck sweater – I think TOAST calls the colour 'truffle'. I buy TOAST cashmere sweaters because they are light but warm and perfect all year round in Scotland.
I was first drawn to this sweater because of its gorgeous colour. I wear it all the time, dressed up or down, on hill climbs and to work. I particularly remember wearing it last summer, on a holiday in Devon, on a long, breezy, coastal walk, noticing under the bright sunlight that you can vividly see lots of different colours within the wool. It was much admired by friends – always a bonus!
I was sad when it developed a hole under one arm but delighted to have it mended by repair specialist Emily. They are truly an artist. They previously repaired the elbow of a navy cashmere cardigan for me so beautifully. As before, I asked them to do a contrasting stitch repair. I love emphasising the darns in my old sweaters, I'm proud to keep wearing something that has had its life prolonged with such stunning stitchwork. Why would I hide it? Again, Emily's work is outstanding. They have created what almost looks like a plaid or tartan repair, in beautiful lichen and moss colours. I'm thrilled with their work.
I’m from a small village in the Lake District. I grew up in one of the valleys, a place where my family have lived for many generations. I live now with my partner not far away from my family home, this time on the fell top looking up into the central Lakes.
I’ve had a few pieces repaired with TOAST Renewal. The first one I bought in around 2012, a khaki wool sweater that has walked many a wet and dry mile with a border collie and pulled up seemingly endless brambles. It was eventually retired to being a cosy bed/fireside throw-on that I couldn’t bear to throw out despite the holes. I associate it with trees, leaves and wellies, layered up with scarves, gloves and hats. I think of looking out of the window – often at the rain – and knowing that the dog walk had to happen.
I also had two cashmere and wool-blend sweaters repaired, which were my work uniform and they travelled with me all over. When it was really cold, I wore them both.
It was amazing chatting with repair specialist Kay, I felt like she wove the memories back into my pieces. The khaki sweater has been patched up on the elbows and pieced back together with thread at the small holes, caused by brambles. The cuff was also gracefully rescued. It’s ready for all the walks and playtime with our new border collie pup. The grey sweater has been put together again with pink thread on the elbow and around all its tiny holes.
I love that my old dog walking sweater, with so many happy memories of our first dog, can keep coming on happy walks with our new pup. I love these pieces even more now – it feels like they tell their story so far on the outside.
Bring any TOAST clothing item in need of repair to one of our shops and discuss our TOAST Renewal mending options with a TOAST Shop colleague. If you are able to visit TOAST Bath, Edinburgh, London Notting Hill, London Shoreditch or Oxford you have the opportunity to spend time with a repair expert to discuss creative mending options, learning the best approach for extending the lifespan of your garment.
We would love to hear from you if you have had a special piece repaired by us, please comment below.
Main image by Kristy Noble. Other images courtesy of Emily Mae Martin, Kay Clark, Emily Dewhurst, Simone Pereira Hind and Anna Wilson.