REPAIR.

why?

Repairs keep garments in circulation longer.  The more we wear the clothes we already have, the better.  There are a lot of us on the earth now, using up a lot of resources.  It's important to conserve where we can, and the fashion industry requires a lot of components, just to make a simple t-shirt, never mind more complicated garments.  Fixing your own clothes will also help you appreciate the skill that goes into patterning and sewing. Don't go and buy another cheap shirt.  When you spend time and money buying sustainable and great fitting clothes, you want to keep them in rotation for as long as possible. 

Whether it's affordable or expensive, most clothing can be fixed.  The best news: mending is next to free and it saves you tons of money.  Basic sewing supplies are very inexpensive. And no, you don't need a machine, although you can get an amazing used machine for less than $100 if you want.  It's an easy learning curve because mistakes are reversible (get yourself a seam ripper).  And there is a ton of info out there, including lots of great instructional videos - whatever sewing problem you need to tackle, it has been covered, just google away.

Click the link below for an introduction into hand-sewing.
  

choose well.

Treat your clothing as an investment and own your style.  Choosing a quality garment is going to make it easier to keep things looking good for longer. 

Spotting quality in textiles and garments, as with all good things, comes down to the details.  For clothing, this means stitching, finishing techniques, lining material and details, seams, the quality and material of hardware, and often most importantly, the type and quality of the textile itself.  Usually, if a manufacturer spends a great deal of expense on the cloth, they will also take the time to pattern well and finish properly. 

The better quality your clothes are, the more cost effective they are to repair/alter.
To learn more about identifying quality in garments, click the link below.

mend.

We should respect the value of textiles and clothing that have taken considerable resources and skill to create.  This means fixing them up instead of throwing them out.  Mending clothes usually means repairing rips or tears.  And once you see how easy it is, the money it will save and how fast it goes, you'll never be without a needle and thread.  The mark of a great repair is not being able to see it.  But even if your first few mends aren't the most beautiful, you'll take pride in knowing you saved an item.  It usually makes me love clothes more once I've worked on them.

Once you've got items you're ready to save, visit the link for more info.

darn.

Darning is a technique for repairing holes or worn areas in fabric or knit using only a needle and thread (no patch fabric). It is often done by hand, but it is also possible to darn with a sewing machine (to repair jeans, for example).

Hand darning employs the darning stitch, a simple running stitch in which the thread is "woven" in rows along the grain of the fabric, with the stitcher reversing direction at the end of each row, and then filling in the framework thus created, as if weaving.  Darning is a traditional method for repairing fabric damage or holes that do not run along a seam, and where patching is impractical or would create discomfort for the wearer, such as on the heel of a sock.  This works well for sweaters too!

Visit the link below for the basics on saving a sock!

 

sew.

Sewing is the craft of fastening or attaching objects using stitches made with a needle and thread. Sewing is one of the oldest of the textile arts, arising in the Palaeolithic era (the same as your historical diet). Before the invention of spinning yarn or weaving fabric, archaeologists believe Stone Age people across Europe and Asia sewed fur & leather clothing using bone, antler or ivory needles and "thread" made of various animal parts.
 

For thousands of years, all sewing was done by hand. The invention of the sewing machine in the 19th century and the rise of technology in the 20th century led to mass production and export of sewn objects, but hand sewing is still practiced around the world.  Fine hand sewing is a characteristic of high-quality tailoring, haute couture fashion, and custom dressmaking, and is pursued by both textile artist and hobbyists as a means of creative expression.

Click the link below for an introduction to the world of machine sewing.

recut.

In the jewellery business, they practice the art of recutting stones.  They start with a beautiful, high quality stone that was cut to the style of a different era, now a bit dated perhaps.  A great gem cutter is able to save as much of the stone as possible, while still updating and modernizing the look.  This is most often practiced with diamonds, though any type of precious stone can be recut.

I love this analogy as applied to fashion.  A great seamstress or tailor can turn a dated piece made from high quality fabric into the item of your dreams.  You don't even have to be an expert in tailoring to try some simple techniques yourself.  My first attempts at alterations involved turning any type of jean into a skinny (sew a straight line down the inside seam). Or making a large t-shirt with cool graphics into something fitted.  Test this on an inexpensive piece first before you take your scissors to an all-time favourite, and remember to measure twice, cut once.

Click the link for examples + inspiration from the best upcyclers in the game.

hire a professional.

When is it time to spend money on a professional?
1 - When the repair/alteration exceeds your knowledge of sewing.
2 - When the item is quality enough to justify adding more monetary cost.
3 - When it's your favourite.

It's a fact that working with fabric is a hard-earned skill.  It's such a detail oriented craft, the embodiment of 'a minute to learn, a lifetime to master'.  Some of the most knowledgeable resources are probably right in your own neighbourhood, in the form of home-based seamstresses.  You can usually only find them by word of mouth or community-based bulletin boards.  There are also sewing + repair workshops popping up in cities everywhere, run by experts who can guide you along to do it yourself, or may have information about who to go visit.

When in doubt, your dry cleaner deals with all types of fabric and they usually employ very knowledgable sewers.  They may not want to get involved with overly complicated reconstructions, but they can certainly complete hems, resizing, zipper and button replacement.  

The more high quality the item, the more you'll want to spend on having it fitted or repaired just right.  FYI: It also makes you look more polished and put together when things fit properly.  Depending on what you're dealing with, you may need to find a real tailor (suits and dress shirts) or a dressmaker (formal wear).  There are also specialists who deal with vintage garments (antique lace, furs, fragile heirlooms, etc.).  Go somewhere that sells what you're looking to fix and ask them who they use.  Most independent merchants in the clothing business are very passionate about quality and preservation, they're often more than willing to help point you in the right direction.