Our clothes can take a lot of wear and tear, especially favorite pieces worn day in and day out – whether it’s trusty blue jeans, a timeless black blazer, or a comfy sweater that’ll see you through the cold months.
Inevitably, clothes (just like their owners) will begin to show signs of age. But just because a button falls off or stitches come undone doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye to your favorite item.
Learning to make and repair (as the old saying goes) helps reduce waste, makes our wardrobes more durable, and in most cases it’s a lot cheaper than buying a replacement from the stores. .
You don’t even have to own a sewing machine. Here, sewing experts show you six simple fashion fixes you can do yourself…
1. Replace Buttons
“Most garments already come with extra buttons sewn inside – this little repair job is easy and all you need is a needle and thread,” says Raph Dilhan, designer and Great British runner-up Sewing Bee (@raph_sew_and_so).
Layla Sargent, Founder and CEO of The Seam (thesam.fr), a platform that connects people to qualified, specialized manufacturers for modifications and repairs, suggests reattaching a button when it’s loose, to prevent it from completely falling off.
“To avoid lost threads, you can create a loop knot to start your stitching,” she explains. “Start by cutting a length of yarn and folding it in half. Thread both ends of the yarn through the eye of the needle and pull them out about 10cm.
“Now make your first stitch by sewing from the back to the front of the garment and again, pulling the needle through the thread loop to secure. We like to use about four stitch loops through each buttonhole , but you can also match the appearance of other buttons on your garment.
2. Cover the holes with patches
While distressed denim can be trendy, Dilhan says a hole or tear in a garment is an opportunity to personalize it by covering it with a patch.
“I use appliqués for this. The variety available online is vast, from simple to very colorful, and in all shapes and sizes,” he says. “To attach appliqués, simply pin it over the hole and then sew the edges by hand with ordinary sewing thread (remember to remove the pins afterwards).
“You can also use darning thread, which is thicker so the thread itself can become a decorative feature. If you’re unsure about sewing an applique, there are also many iron-on patches available.
3. Fix the drop hems
If the hem of a skirt, dress, or slacks is starting to come undone, a timed stitch can really help.
“When detangling occurs on a few inches of yarn, DIY is a great way to prevent further damage,” says Sargent. Try to find a thread that matches the fabric as closely as possible, or go darker if necessary, as it will be less noticeable than a lighter thread.
“Follow the existing stitch line,” she continues. “When sewing by hand, shorter stitches, sewn tightly together, are the surest way to avoid fraying and damage in the wash.”
4. Unbobble knits
It’s a useful technique when you’re getting out your warm clothes for fall and winter.
“When knitted garments and jersey items start to form little balls of fibers on the surface, they can quickly feel worn,” says Sargent. “A quick ‘haircut’ on an item of clothing can make a bobble item feel new again.”
Be sure to work slowly and in good lighting, to ensure you don’t accidentally cut the fabric: “Drape the fabric over the narrow edge of your hand, in a single layer, and use sharp scissors with a wide blade to cut pom poms one at a time.
She adds: “Knitted garments can be prone to fraying, so make sure you never cut a piece of yarn – focus on the fibers that have come loose from the structure of the fabric.”
5. Dye faded fabrics
Not exactly a sewing technique, but a practical skill to add to your fashion toolbox.
“If your whites have gone a little gray or an old favorite shirt has faded, don’t throw them away, color them instead – you’d be surprised how easy it is to do,” says Dilhan . “There are a wide variety of eco-friendly machine dyes designed for your second-hand wardrobe.”
Be sure to check that the dye is right for your fabric (most synthetics won’t work) and follow the directions to make sure you don’t contaminate your laundry.
You can also experiment with tie dyeing and other creative methods. Dilhan says: “You can achieve a nice color gradient with dip dyeing techniques – ideal for example if you have an old dress that needs sprucing up.
6. Rethread the cords
“When the drawstring on a pair of pants or joggers comes out of the waistband channel, putting it back in place is easier than it looks,” says Sargent.
To start, attach a safety pin to one end of the cord. You’ll need a pin that’s narrow enough to fit through the channel, but not the tiny type you get with clothing hang tags.
“Insert the safety pinned end of the string into one end of the channel and feed the fabric along the pin, occasionally distributing all the gathers along the string, until you can pull the pin on the other side and even the fabric along the cord.