Well hello there! It’s been a little while, hasn’t it? How have you been? I’ve had quite a weird few weeks and I’m sure I’m not the only one. I’ve been pondering this post for the past month but I’ve felt so unproductive, it’s taken me until now to actually sit down and write it. I’ve used this as a lesson in being kind to oneself and taking life at your own pace. And I’ve been channelling that energy into showing my wardobe some love <3.
I was inspired by this interesting post from Fashion Revolution, who campaign for a clean, safe, fair, transparent and accountable fashion industry. The 6 steps in this post show how to wash your clothing less to reduce your impact on the planet. As the author argues, this is the perfect time to care for the clothes we love. Because, while that’s not going to solve our current crisis, it can “…provide routine and small domestic moments that take our minds away from the harsh realities of life”.
In the spirit of this, I’ve been focussing in on the little things that make a huge difference – for our clothes and the planet. There’s no point in sewing yourself a new wardrobe if you don’t use those skills to care for the pieces you have. So here are 3 ways I’ve been sprucing up my styles with a little make do and mend:
If you are unsure of how to replace a missing button, there are tutorials for all types of buttons online. All you need is a needle, thread and a spare button. Find a button that matches or add a contrasting one. Even if you’re brand new to sewing, I promise you – you can do it!
I made a covered button for the first time this week. My lovely 80s dress recently lost one of its matching fabric-covered buttons. You can find special “coverable” buttons for this kind of repair in your local haberdashery. I used fabric from the belt of the dress to cover the button, so it would match the others.
I cut out the fabric using the template which came with the buttons. You simply sew around the circle of fabric you’ve cut out, pull it tight around the button and secure. It’s important to get the right size of button. This one ended up being a perfect match!
I then attached the button to the dress & repaired the end of the belt:
Taking up a hem
Sorted all of your buttons? Another simple fix is to adjust a hem. If you have something that’s a little more “oversized” than is fashionable, don’t worry – you can rescue it! Take this blouse, for example. It’s so cute but it was just too big for me. I measured where I wanted the top to finish, then added 3 centimetres for the hem. I marked this length and cut off the excess fabric all the way around the piece (being careful to cut it straight!).
I folded 1.5 cm from the hem upwards on the inside of the garment and ironed this in place. Then I turned up another 1.5 cm and ironed again, as you can see here on my jazzy ironing board:
Then I sewed the hem in place with a straight stitch. And that’s it! You can take up a hem on most items of clothing at home – or talk to your tailor if it’s something a bit trickier like a coat.
Darn that hole
The third tip I have for you is darning – for mending rips or holes (unless it’s a seam that has come loose – that’s even easier to repair). This is essentially like weaving the fabric back together by replacing the missing threads. Start by sewing back and forth from side to side across the hole, beginning at a point where the fabric is still intact. Once you have covered the hole, do the same thing going from top to bottom, weaving the needle over and under the threads you sewed sideways. Keep building up the threads until the hole is repaired.
Here’s the before and after of the hole I darned in the knee of my jeans. Obviously you can tell it’s been mended but it’s much more subtle when it’s not in close-up – and it adds some vintage character!
My next darning project will be the hole in the elbow of this jumper, which I didn’t even notice until I caught sight of it in my webcam on Zoom…
So those were 3 simple tips for injecting some new life into your old favourites. This is a great time to indulge in some self-care – for yourself and your wardrobe. You’ll find even more pride in those special pieces when you’ve invested your time and skill into looking after them.