Learn How to Mend and Recycle Clothes
Mending lets you give new life to old clothes the old-fashion way.
Quick work with needle and thread reattaches a button.
Making repairs to clothing and small household appliances of all kinds was once a proud part of life in North America. Most households at least knew how to mend. But when manufacturing efficiencies and inexpensive labor brought the cost of goods to record lows, mending and recycled clothes fell out of favor. In many cases, repairing an item now costs more than simply buying new. This phenomenon has sent to the landfill many a shirt missing a button or pair of coveralls with torn knees. In many instances, learning how to mend is the answer.
It may be true that you can’t buy the parts to fix your broken toaster for less than you’d pay for a new one, but you can still save a basket of money by giving old clothes a new life.
I’ll admit it. I’m a glutton for the satisfaction of making things last. I grew up watching my mother patch the knees of my brother’s corduroys and hem up my skirts to make hip little minis. On her family visits, my grandmother would take over Mom’s mending basket and help catch up on the backlog of buttons that needed replacing; she might convert an Oxford-collared shirt, after I’d outgrown the sleeves, into a pert sleeveless blouse that would get me through the summer. Mine was a family of savers determined to honor an object for the service it had provided. For us, it was disrespectful to throw a thing away when you could take a tuck in it or glue it back together and extend its useful life.
Today’s economy requires that many of us do more with less. Here’s a secret: less really is more. Less money spent on new stuff makes for more creativity, more satisfaction in extending the lives of useful and well-loved things. Read on for some specific mending tips that’ll help you make useful new things out of old and keep favorite old items performing.
What You’ll Need:
- Storage container or sewing basket
- Straight pins and pin cushion
- Tape measure
- Tracing wheel
- Sewing needles of different sizes
- Needle threader
- Small scissors for snipping
- Large scissors/shears
- Pinking shears
- Seam ripper
- Steam iron (often available for next to nothing at thrift stores and garage sales)
- Ironing board (often available for next to nothing at thrift stores and garage sales)
Buy pre-folded binding sold by the spool. Flatten out the end and iron a hem along one side of the binding; refold with the hemmed edge turned under, and iron again to “set” the first end of the binding. Cut binding the length of the blanket to be mended, with a generous (say 4-inch) piece left over – this is to allow for the blanket “relaxing” as you stitch on the binding, which often takes a little more binding than your initial measured length of the blanket.
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