Basic Mending Techniques
Learning the basics of clothing repair can save money and help you get more wear out of those favorite clothing items. If you are already familiar with these, spend some time this month to teach your children. This is excellent mission and college prep!
- Select the right thread and other mending materials. Besides finding a good color match, try to find thread, mending tape or a patch composed of the same fibers and of the same or a slightly lighter weight. DON’T choose something stronger or heavier than your clothing item thinking that this will make a longer lasting repair. Under stress and wear the stronger mend will hold while your item will tear out around it, making the damage worse (see Mark 2:21 🙂 ). Bring the item and ask at the fabric store if you are unsure.
- Sewing up a split seam. A seam splits when the threads holding two pieces of fabric together break. It is one of the more straightforward repairs as there is usually little to no damage to the fabric. Simply remove the broken strands of thread, turn the item inside-out, line up and pin the two sides together and re-sew along the original stitching line. Try to match the original stitch length and iron the seam open for the best appearance.
- Replacing a button. Most buttons are sewn on by machine these days and those stitches have a notoriously brief lifespan. To prevent button loss, you can dab a spot of clear nail polish on the threads holding the button in place on the inside of the clothing item (test on an inconspicuous button first). If it’s too late and your button is gone, check interior seams, sewn-in tags and inside the shirt front plackets for spare buttons provided by the manufacturer. If there are none, take the item to a fabric store to buy a replacement. Pay attention to color, size and number of holes. If you cannot find an exact match and the missing button is front and center, remove a button from a less-noticeable spot and sew the replacement button in there. Note how the other buttons are sewn in (see potential methods above) and thread color. Make a good, beefy knot in the end of your thread and try to put your needle through one of the original holes with the knot on the inside. Thread it through the correct holes in your button and then push your needle straight down through the fabric. Repeat at least four times per stitch. Don’t pull the thread up too tightly or it will be difficult to button and may pucker your fabric.
- Using iron-on mending tape, patches or hem tape. Use mending tape or patches when the fabric itself is torn or worn through. Trim loose threads, position edges of fabric as closely together as possible without overlapping and then press according to directions on package. Use hem tape when hems on skirts or pants fall out or to save money on alterations. Wash your item and skip the fabric softener this time as it may prevent adhesion. Use your iron to press in correct hemline (and pant creases, if applicable) before applying the hem tape. Follow package instructions.
- Learn to darn.