I sewed up two holes in my sneakers this week.
I’ve been watching online videos of sped-up mending. Lots of them. The clips track needles bearing colorful embroidery thread, diving below the surface of the fabric and breaching up again, never a stitch missed, never a finger poked. Each time the repair is perfectly executed.
Whatever bit of algorithmic sorcery there is operating behind the scenes, it’s endeavored to ensure that I see these videos any time I open an app or the lid of my laptop. My most innocent internet check-ins run the risk of being sidetracked by flying needles and attending thread.
Inspired, I took a needle and dusty pink embroidery thread to my dirty cotton canvas sneaks. The creases of my high-tops have worn soft and thin and split in the identical spot on each shoe.
In the course of the repair, I displayed none of the dexterity showcased in the clips I’ve watched online. I poked my fingers more times than I poked the canvas. Still now, as I type I can feel the dull pain of one particularly aggressive jab straight into the top of my middle finger, repeated twice more—needle not wanting to stray from its original trajectory, finger too slow to move out of the way.
While sewing, it’s possible I encountered a smear of dried dog poop, smushed along the edge of the rubber sole. Or perhaps it was just a smear of park dirt, unexpectedly thawed during a rare afternoon of sunshine and eager to join me for a stroll. Both possibilities, of course, only accounting for the dirt and grime visible to my naked eye. (Hazards of New York City shoe repair.)
The finished product has an effect that isn’t un-wart-like. The pale pink puffs of embroidery thread have a fullness and luster that make them look more like a mild skin anamoly than an artful repair to a utilitarian object. There are no intricate leaves or flowers or geometric shapes, only amorphous blobs.
Of course, I love them.
How useful any of this stitching will prove is anyone’s guess. The soles of my sneakers are wearing thin. There will be holes through the heels come summertime, it’s practically guaranteed. But for now, the gaping tears have been cinched and the creases fortified. My brand-new bright white laces are getting satisfactorily dirtied.
Marching on, warts and all.
For the curious:
These same shoes this time last year, plus a whole bunch of recommendations for other classic canvas sneakers.
Make your own sewing kit.