Sustainability

Prolonging the lifespan of your clothes: how to sew and patch clothes

Want to prolong the life of your clothes? From learning how to sew, to patching up jeans, here are three basics to master.

Have you ripped or torn your favourite shirt? You don’t need to throw it away. With a little patience and skill, most damaged clothing can be saved. By knowing how to deal with clothes’ most common problems — from how to stitch together a rip to learning how to sew a button — you can reduce waste, save money and prolong the life of your clothes.

Learn a basic running stitch for sewing clothes

Whether you want to know how to sew a dress with a big tear in the fabric or to fix a hem that’s coming undone, knowing a basic running stitch will take you far. This will help you sew on patches, darn holes and reinforce hems.

For a basic running stitch, thread your needle and form a knot at the bottom of both ends of the thread. If you want to repair a tear, turn the garment inside out and pinch the two sides you want to sew together. If the tear is large, use pins to hold them together.

At the beginning of the tear, poke the thread and needle through the material until it can no longer move beyond the knot. Then simply move the needle in and out of the fabric until you have covered the length of the tear. Cut the thread and tie several knots to secure the stitch.

Learn to sew a button

Mastering this basic will save many a shirt from the bin. You’ll need a button, thread a similar colour to your shirt, a needle, scissors and a pin. Cut a length of thread – 30 centimetres should be plenty – and thread it through the eye of the needle. Tie both ends of thread into a knot at the bottom.

Place the button where you want to secure it and poke the needle through the fabric starting from the inside of the shirt to the outside. Stop until the knot has prevented the thread from going further.

To stabilise the button while you sew it, and also to ensure there’s enough space for the button hole to go around the button, place a pin at the centre of the button and stitch over it to hold it in place. Start stitching the thread through the holes in the button, forming a cross shape with the thread. Once the button is secure, cut the excess thread, remove the pin and you’re done!

Iron on patches

For fixing tears in jeans, there’s nothing better than an iron on patch. Denim patches come in many varieties. Choose your shade and cut out the size that you need to cover the hole.

Prepare the hole that you want to mend by cutting the frayed edges for a neat appearance. Turn your jeans inside out, place the patch over the hole, making sure the fabric is as flat as possible and heat the iron to a high temperature. Press down on the patch for 30 seconds. That’s it! Turn your jeans inside out to admire your handiwork.

Once you’ve mended your clothes, throw them in the wash. Use a detergent such as Omo, and get those repaired clothes looking and smelling brand new. No longer do you have to say goodbye to your favourite clothes; your needle and thread will have you covered.

Key points:

  • Learn a basic running stitch
  • Learn how to sew a button
  • Use iron patches to repair denim

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Once you’ve mastered the art of the running stitch, learn the back stitch and cross stitch. These are reinforced stitches that are more resilient and will last for longer.