extreme mending and how to make a front bustle and scrap binding

mending clothes with scraps

The Second Annual International Scrap Festival comes to a close today!  Thanks to everybody who participated – you can checkout some of the swaps and projects here. I’m already planning the 2021 festival…

You can’t have a scrap festival without talking about mending. I love my mended sleeves and knees, it has nothing to do with being practical or frugal, although I am both of those things. Pretty much. I get nostalgic and attached about clothes and the practice itself, the mending, the meandering stitches and serendipitous layers, is a daily meditation for me.

mended linen smock with front bustle

And I like an interesting hem, not sure why, but it might be at least in part because I’m pretty short (you may not have noticed this because I project quite tall). The hitched up skirt has a little lengthening effect. And it fits right in with my middle age art lady personal style ( #contemporaryhollyhobby). I stumbled onto the front bustle, or bustled hem idea idea while mending this dress.

The first bustle was a simple button and loop. I’ve just button bustled my ancient and  beloved  cal patch smock. The mending on this smock is so extreme it will eventually be nothing but mends.

mending a linen smock with scraps

I have a flannel shirt (purchased for 25 cents at the Herkimer NY Goodwill) that’s like that too – just can’t let it go. Plus it keeps getting more interesting. The edges near the buttons were shredded so I made edge binding from scraps.

binding mad from scraps

Check out this tutorial on how to make your own. It’s super easy.  And it begins with “iron your scraps” so you know it’s a winner. I’m making a bunch of this for frayed pillowcase edges too.

Back to the bustles. I tried a different method on an antique linen nightgown I got in France last year (it started out ivory – I dyed it blue with woad).

make a bustled hem

I’m using a strip of cotton fabric that’s about 3 inches wide. You can make it any length you like – depending on how bustled you want to be. I made the cord from very light weight fabric  – you could also use ribbon or twill tape, any sort of cord you like. I started with about 30 inches of cord and trimmed it .

bustled hem tutorial

Fold the side edges under and press, then folded the top and bottom edges over twice and pressed.  Pin the piece to the skirt.

Sew a U shaped channel in the center –  about one half inch wide. Sew the long sides down as well- I used a tiny whip stitch along the edge. Be sure to leave the top and bottom edges open.

Use a large needle  to thread the cord through from the top.

Come out at the bottom and go back in and come out at the top again. Once the cord is in you can stitch the bottom closed (being careful not to catch the cord) or just leave it open – I left it open.

bustled hem tutorial

bustled hem tutorial

Trim the cord and knot the ends. You are bustled! If you bustle a hem I’d love to see – use #contemporaryhollyhobby on instagram.

how to maker a bustled hem

elegant rag dolls

PS – There has been serious naked lady rag doll progress – The pattern is almost done – I’m in the tiny adjustment/improvement stage. This process involves making tons of dolls and some of those, in various states of dress, will be in the shop  soon.

bustled hem tutorial


  1. Yes love thise dolls. They garner a certain amount if respect. Looking forward to to pattern.

  2. Nora Batchelor

    I have been longing for the naked lady rag doll pattern for ages. Been wanting to make her so much.

  3. Thank you for the tutorial! I have the perfect garment for some bustle action….

  4. Yes, please a crow pattern or a kit! I love that bird!
    I also am inspired by your mending projects. I have long loved mending, but you have inspired me to do more! I’m definitely going to make up a supply of scrap binding.

  5. Kath Rimmer

    Thank you so much for organising the fabric swap, it’s been lovely, I have a new friend on the other side of the pond and my stitch mojo back – 3 projects in!
    I am really embracing visible mending at the moment, I recently lost around 168lb but still hate shopping and am finding my style – in the UK we have “jumble sales” where clothes and bric-a-brac are donated then we have about 4 hours to grab bargains, I’m loving buying great quality second hand clothes for pennies, plus vintage embroidered table cloths etc to wear, cut up, revive, or pass on – viv la vintage!

  6. Sorry, didn’t get the message you sent. There seems to be something re my subscription addy.
    I am stuck fininshing the owl, I made a mistake somewhere along, sooooo. But I did get the claws done first.
    As a thank you for those recipes you share with us, here’s mine. cut tomatoes in half, then in half, add coarsley chopped cukes, feta cheese, green oions, lots of fine chopped parsley, salt pepper, lemon juice and olive oil to taste and enjoy!

  7. You may not be old enough to remember the peek-a-boo dirndl skirts we wore in the 50’s. Your hem bustle just reminded me of them. I’m not able to find an example on the internet. It was a drawn up section of the hem with lace sewn behind it. Not drawn up as in your bustle, but drawn up in gathers, as though you’d sewn from the bottom up 6 or 8 inches and then pulled the stitches tight so that you could peek at the lace behind it.

  8. wow, can’t wait for the pattern. also i would love to have one made by you Anne. I love homemade.

  9. Jill Cardinal

    I love all the things that you do, such a gift to the world. Also your sobriquet ‘contemporary Holly Hobbie’, yesssssss!

  10. I was just mending my quilt with some hand-stitching, but too late to join the festival festivities, I think. But it felt good, as two of the patches was in threads (because I started with using thrifted fabric of course).

    Love the bustle-thingie, so cute!

  11. Patricia Fazekas

    I had been struggling with a way to cover/repair the frayed front edge on a beloved snap front denim shirt. The binding you used on your flannel shirt was just the thing! Thank you so much. Love all that you do.

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