“The scratch stitch is symbolic of the ethos of our label Kishmish. We initially used it to repair and up-cycle garments, and give them a new lease of life”, says Rekha Bhatia, a weaver and designer who co-founded the brand with Nikki Kalia, a textile print designer. The little stitch may be simply scratching the surface of a garment yet it quietly conveys that mending clothes artistically to help them last longer is perfectly acceptable.
Kishmish is a studio based in Mumbai, India, that designs comfort-oriented tailored clothing and textiles (such as stoles) with a genteel aesthetic. Kishmish is a Hindi word that translates as 'raisins' and alludes to the treats of a handful of the dried fruit that Rekha and Nikki would get from their grandmothers when young. Rekha and Nikki believe the garments they design will bring their clients the same simple, spontaneous joy they felt as children enjoying raisins!
The label features collections of women’s garments of hand-woven cotton, hand-woven cotton from hand-spun yarns, linen, silk, and brocades; in cuts that are comfortable, stylish and drape well; and designs that are versatile.
When, after years of wearing a Kishmish garment, a customer brought it to the studio for a little repair, Rekha and Nikki decided to repair/ patch it (with a leftover textile from the studio) by using an accent stitch that came to be called the scratch stitch as it looks like a little scratch. Over time, they found customers asking for the scratch stitch on garments and now many of Kishmish’s new garments also feature the scratch stitch!
The scratch stitch is worked by the studio tailor on the foot-pedal sewing machine. It is typically worked in a thread colour that contrasts with/stands out from the ground fabric. At times a different coloured thread is used in the bobbin from the one threaded through the needle. Sometimes the tailor changes threads as the stitch progresses, giving it an interesting look.
“We hope the humble scratch stitch helps in increasing the life of garments and increases awareness of mending garments even as it adds an interesting detail to them. It is our way of caring for the environment as we are very conscious of the waste generated by the textile and garment industry”
Written by Brinda Gill
All images courtesy Kishmish Clothing.