A Beginner’s Guide to Mending Clothes Like a Pro

A Beginner’s Guide to Mending Clothes Like a Pro

Modern fashion can make threading the needle of style and sustainability seem impossible. After all, until a few decades ago, it was common practice to mend, sew, and stitch worn-and-torn clothes for reuse. However, with the arrival of so-called “fast fashion” — which mass-produces ultra-cheap garments at lightning speeds and then ships high volumes of product to online retailers — consumers are encouraged to whip through wardrobes in weeks, if not days.

But from the dyeing process that pollutes waterways to how much energy those textile factories consume that same convenience comes at a tremendous environmental cost. Did you know the clothing industry is the world’s second largest polluter, surpassed only by oil? At SaltyLama, our plant-based laundry sheets offer a convenient, affordable alternative to regular detergents — with zero chemicals and zero plastic. But just like you should be mindful of how you wash your clothes, it’s also critical to consider how your clothes are produced — and what you can do to reduce your environmental impact.

One simple way to start? Embrace the pleasure and satisfaction of mending clothes on your own, instead of discarding them at the first sign of fraying. From a tiny tear to a loose button or a frayed hem, the ability to mend clothes empowers us to cherish our closet staples and reduce our reliance on constant consumption. Let’s explore essential supplies you’ll need and the various techniques you can use to repair your wardrobe like a pro.

Supplies to mend clothes – DIY clothing repair kit

Before you set off on your mending journey, you’ll need a few essential tools to get the job done right. Here’s a rundown:

  • Sewing Kit: Find a quality sewing kit that includes needles, thread in various colors, scissors, pins, and a thimble. Bonus points if you have inherited your great grandmother’s set! These items provide the foundation for mending clothes.
  • Fabric: Keep a small selection of fabric scraps on hand to use for patching holes and reinforcing weak areas. Otherwise, you can use sewing techniques to patch and repair holes.
  • Iron and ironing board: A well-pressed garment is easier to mend, so make sure you have an iron and ironing board.
  • Seam ripper: This tool comes in handy for removing stitches and deconstructing garments for repair.
  • Fabric glue: For quick fixes and non-sewing repairs, fabric glue can be a game changer.
  • Patches: Stock up on patches in assorted colors and sizes to cover larger holes and add decorative elements to your repairs.
  • Laundry detergent: For the best results, you’ll want to mend clothes that are freshly laundered. For a green clean free of harmful ingredients, go with SaltyLama laundry detergent sheets.
  • Optional handheld sewing machine: If learning new sewing techniques by hand feels overwhelming, a handheld sewing machine is the perfect alternative.
  • Optional sewing machine: If you plan on making clothes mending a hobby or side gig, get yourself a quality Singer sewing machine.
  • Optional guide book: For beginners, Wear, Repair, Repurpose: A Maker's Guide to Mending and Upcycling Clothes offers insight and advice for upcycling and mending clothes.

    Learn basic mending techniques

    To start mending your own clothes, you’ll need to read up and learn a few new skills. But before you dive into too many of these mending techniques, get comfortable sewing a few basic stitches.

    From sewing on a button to hemming a pair of trousers, here’s where to start:

    • Sewing buttons: Use a needle and thread to securely attach a new button or reattach a loose one. Here’s a quick video tutorial to learn the simplest way to sew on a button.
    • Patching holes: This is one of the easiest mending and upcycling techniques. Cut a piece of fabric slightly larger than the hole, pin it in place, and sew around the edges to secure it.
    • Hemming: Turn the fabric under and stitch along the edge to create a new hem or repair a fraying one. Draw a line in pencil to make sure you evenly distribute the fabric.
    • Darning: Use a darning needle and thread to weave new threads across a hole, creating a sturdy patch.
    • Seam repair: Use a straight stitch or a zigzag stitch (typically with a sewing machine) to rejoin seams that have come apart.
    • Reinforcing weak areas: Use an invisible or decorative stitch to reinforce areas prone to wear and tear, such as the elbows of sweaters or the knees of pants. Alternatively, you can add a patch or new fabric.

      Advanced techniques when upcycling clothing

      Once you’ve gotten the hang of things, you’ll have more room to get creative with your work. Here are a few techniques that will amplify your upcycled clothing projects:

      Invisible mending: This sewing tip involves using thread that matches the fabric to seamlessly repair tears and holes. This will give you a clean and professional-looking repair, so no one will suspect a thing.

      Embellishment: Get creative with your repairs by adding decorative stitching, patches, or embroidery to enhance the look of your garments. Here are some free embroidery patterns to get started.

      Fabric dyeing: If your garment has stains or discoloration that can't be removed, consider dyeing it a new color to freshen it up. There are numerous natural ways to dye clothes using plants and vegetables like beets, onions, and marigolds.

      With the right tools and sewing techniques, mending your clothes can be a rewarding and sustainable way to care for your wardrobe. Whether you're repairing a favorite pair of jeans or breathing new life into an old sweater, don’t sleep on the beauty of mending. You’ll be supporting a circular economy and taking a stand against fast fashion. So, grab your sewing kit and get to work repairing your well-loved clothes!


      Retour au blog