wordless weekend
Thanks and blues

mending moth holes with moths, a short tutorial


This was meant for a magazine last year but the mending theme for the issue changed and I was too busy to follow it up so I happily tucked it away to share here for another day. 

I often wear huge sweaters around the house with lots of layers underneath. My wintertime mantra is the same as my father's when I was young and complained about a cold house "Put on more clothes." This particular sweater was discarded by it's previous owner when his beer belly outgrew it so I snapped it up to layer with. Unfortunately the moths nibbled a big hole in the shoulder and some smaller ones in the front.

Hypoprepia Moth sample
Lisa took some amazing moth pictures a while back and I thought, I might not mind moth holes so much if they were made by those beauties. Then thought, why not cover up the holes with those beauties (I wouldn't choose the ugly little grey critters that really make the holes).

So I made some drawings of my favourites and pulled them into Illustrator, I was pleased with the way they turned out as line art. I then did some watercolour sketches of my moth selection and created a new pattern set of five moths. So I offer you up one moth patch, click here to download. If you'd like the whole page of five moth illustrations with my watercolour sketch as a guide they're available on my pattern page. Moth watercolour sml sample

On this sweater I've used two moth patches. The patch above (antheraea polyphemus) I made by embroidering on to felt and needle felting a body. The patch on the front (gnophaela vermiculata) is mostly needle felted with a little black stitched detailing.

This is how to make the patches

  1. First cut out the moth shape from paper.
  2. Then trace it onto a piece of felt or felted wool that is a similar colour to the moth body. I find a ball point (biro) pen the best tool for tracing onto felt. You will want to either cut off the pen mark or stitch over it to hide it.
  3. Next cut around the moth, not right on the line, leave space around it.
  4. Then fill in the moth with embroidery stitches and/or needle felting. I used both embroidery and needle felting for both of these patches.
  5. Referring to a picture of the moth, pick up the thread and start drawing with it. Just start stitching, if you haven't freehand stitched before you'll be surprised at how your hands can use the needle like a pencil. Moths are a particularly good subject to try this with because they are symetrical and therefore easier to position each element in.
  6. When you finish the details of your moth, cut it out, close to the edge but not right on it.
  7. Next prepare your hole for your patch. I mended the holes with a simple darning stitch using mending wool. If you've never mended a sweater before I just searched around for tutorials and found this one on Martha Stewart but any vintage family sewing book should show you. The mending step might seem silly since the hole will be covered up, but mending it first will help your sweater withstand future washes better.
  8. Using mending wool or a couple of strands of embroidery thread, cover your mended hole with the patch and hand stitch around it. Be careful of your tension while stitching. If you pull the thread too tight while stitching the sweater will pucker around the patch, too loose and the patch won't look tidy.
  9. Finally, add the antenae straight on to your sweater being sure to start your stitches under the top of the moth's head to hide the join, again, watch the tension in your stitching.

Mending tutorial

Hope you have a go. If you download the pattern let me know how you use it, or add an image to the Created with Nini Flickr Group. I'm no nature Illustrator so this art is not exactly accurate for the purists out there, the gnophaela vermiculata for example is much bluer than a real one, but my water colour dried darker than I thought it would and you know I love my blues :)

If you do regular mending and you're on Flickr, join Scrapiana's Big Mend Flickr group to share your mends. She also recently posted a moving piece about sandblasted jeans on her blog; read it, I gaurantee you will shop more carefully for jeans in the future, I know I will.

Happy Wednesday!



Lisa J

This is the coolest thing. I almost have no words. Just. So. Cool.


What a fantastic idea! Thanks for the tutorial.


Really quite beautiful!
Found your blog from Feeling Stitchy and so glad I did!

Cristy Davies

This is awesome. I think these moths are lovely!


Beautiful! I never could resist a good mending technique.


Lisa, so sorry, I lost the link to you and your moths when I was editing. I've put it back in now :)

Sonia / Cozy Memories

I really should pay you to come visit me & teach me how to needle felt (I have no tool & no skill for sure !) Because these are simply awesome, gorgeous & so smart !
Thanks for taking the time to put up a tutorial, I'm sure it's going to inspire many many people !


Oh Sonia, no lessons needed. Just get a large sponge, like a car washing sponge and a felting needle or two from a local craft shop (or online).
I guarantee you will be hooked. When I taught my friend Fi she made the most beautiful bird in about 20 minutes on her first try.
Then you just need a bit of wool roving (I can help you with that) and fabric to poke the wool into.
It's relatively quick to do and so cathartic, the best fun to be had by stabbing something! Perfect outlet for me :)


Grgeatest idea ever. You're awesome!


I got awfully excited when i read the first part of your post title! We found moth holes in two of my sweetie's favorite sweaters - it would be so great to be able to save them. But I don't think this would be the answer he is looking for!!!

I on the other hand........

Great tutorial, Joanie. Brilliant way to save a much loved sweater. thank you for sharing.


this is so brilliant and beautiful
thanks for the inspiration
as always


The moths just popped up in my Dropbox, you sweet friend!! They are gorgeous--idea and execution so brilliant--and I'm so inspired. Coming up I have swimming lessons to sit through and an all-day regatta to watch, and I know just the projects I'll be working on!


Wow, this is absolutely stunning!


What a great idea! I love your moths and have a torn spot on a favorite shirt for this project. So glad I discovered you!


Love this idea! Beautiful and witty. :-)


Absolutely gorgeous and breathtaking! Now I'm off to fill my wardrobe with felted moths ;-) Thank you so much for the tutorial Joanie ♥


Those moth patches look fantastic! Very impressed.
And a great idea to save a sweater

x Lisa

Bettina Groh

what a super neat way to handle the problem!! I'm impressed and so is my husband!! We sit back to back on our computers and I made him turn around to look! I haven't any "holey' sweaters but there must be a way to use the butterfly!!

Susan Elliott

This is such a great idea!! I love your moth patches. I've come via Craft Gossip and SO glad I did!

wildcraft diva

Keep crafting and blogging! Came by your blog via "twig vase" on pinterest. It makes me want to create more things.....even if I'm not a sewer...if you want to avoid moths, try conkers!(on my blog if you don't know about them) But great to let them chew and embellish like this.....

Anita van der Wouden

Like your blog, nice felt butterfly's!I heard from your blog from Dianne, we stayed at het vacation lodge.

Greetings Anita http://vindutchgirl.blogspot.nl/

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