‘Make do and mend’ was a term coined during the Second World War. It is often looked upon romantically but it was born out of necessity. Everything was in short supply, and that included fabric. If something tore or didn’t quite fit you anymore, you couldn’t just go out and expect to buy a replacement. And there was certainly no “retail therapy”. In fact, fabric and clothing was rationed throughout the Second World War, and that meant that people across the country had to make do with what they had. They perfected the art of mending their clothes so they would last additional months and years.
Nowadays new clothes are readily available and it is often all too easy to go out and buy something new than take the time to fix something you already have. Mending and making skills are becoming a lost art, and in terms of sustainability, this throw away and replace culture is seriously unhealthy!
Clothes are one of the easiest items to repair but they are often neglected or thrown away. If you are feeling a little thrifty, but don’t know where to begin, check out some of these great basic mending tips to get you started.
Replacing a button
This is one of the easiest mends that you can do! If you’ve lost the button be sure to check the side label of your shirt or coat – they often come with a spare button attached. If not, don’t worry. Get creative by replacing buttons with ‘odd’ ones.
Thread your needle, double over the thread (to make it stronger) and knot it.
Make sure you’ve got the button in the right place and put your needle through the fabric so the knot is at the back.
Thread your button onto the needle through one of the holes and then stitch loads of times going in and out of the holes. At least 5 – 6 times to make sure it’s really well attached.
Now make your needle go between the fabric and the button and wind the thread around the stitches a few times. (This is called a shank.)
Take your needle through to the back of the fabric and knot.
To knot, do a stitch on the spot and before you pull the thread pass the needle through the loop, pull tight and repeat to secure.
Darning used to be commonplace, if your socks got a hole in them they would have been darned and darned again until they could be darned no more! Use a matching thread or a bright contrast to show off your clever darning.
It may sound complicated, but actually all darning comes down to is mending holes using a running stitch. First, you create a line of running stitches filling the hole, you then turn the garment to a right angle, and weave your needle in and out of the stitches to make a patch over the hole with your thread.
Repairing a Hole with Interfacing
Interfacing is a clever material that has glue on one side. If you are going to add a patch to something, interfacing makes the mend even stronger. Patches are most often applied to trousers when you wear through the knees, or jackets that are wearing through the elbows. You can buy some ready-made patches that just require ironing on. Or you could make your own using scrap bits of cloth and a bit of interfacing to strengthen it. This can be done by hand or machine.
Repairing A Seam
Repairing a seam is fairly straightforward and simply requires you to resew the seam and catch your fabric a little further into your garment. The way that you should repair a seam depends on whether you are mending by hand, or you are using a sewing machine. For those that prefer to use a machine, you can use a running stitch for woven (non- stretch fabrics) and a small, zigzag stitch for jerseys (stretchy fabrics). If hand stitching, you will probably prefer to backstitch.
Whatever you decide, make sure that you do not use too much of the material to mend the seam, otherwise you’ll find your garment a lot smaller than it used to be!
Your hem may have just fallen down or perhaps your item is a bit longer than you want it to be. Here’s how to fix it:
First, unstitch the entire hem and lay it out flat.
You may need to iron it for good measure and to make sure it is completely flat.
Now change the hem to what you want it to be and pin.
When you are hemming, especially something like trousers, get someone to pin them up while you try them on. It can be really tricky to get the length right on your own.
ALWAYS check your hem by looking in the mirror, not down – when you lean down to look, you actually make the clothes look like they are hanging longer than they are.
There are many ways to finalize your hem. From the easy-to-use hem tape to the more complicated herringbone stitch. Use the process you are most comfortable with. There are a variety of tutorials available for mending and stitching clothing.
You work hard for your money and you deserve that shirt you love so much. We all want to save where we can. We hope these tips help and that we see you at Wearhouse and More!