Make It New: Repairing Clothing pt. 1

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Part of the issue I’ve found with continually buying more clothes is the fact that we often just toss things if they get a little warn. Obviously there is a point where things are beyond repair, but some of the smaller things, if you know how to fix them, may help prolong the life of the clothes in your closet, or give second hand clothes more life. Here are a few easy ways to repair or alter clothes in order to give them a little more life!

Repair #1: Take In a Lace Shirt (no-sew!)

What you need:

  • Fusible Bonding Web aka Stitch Witchery
  • A lacy shirt that is 1, maybe 2 sizes too big
  • Optional: terrible workspace lighting

I’m not always the best at being able to tell if something is “cute chunky slouchy oversized” or if it just looks too big on me. I found this lace crop top towards the end of a clothing swap (lace has been my weakness the past year or so) so I grabbed it. It was a little on the larger side for me, but I kept it anyway, because, lace. However, it needed to be brought it in if I was ever going to actually wear it.

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I haven’t tried this method on non-lacy things yet. It is magical with lace because it disappears in the gaps. I also recommend sticking with a looser fitting tops, because the “seam” that is left by the bonding web will be a little thick compared to a normal machine seam.

I found a roll of this “Stitch Witchery” at a Goodwill, strangely, and it’s perfect for taking in a top like this. It’s so simple: you measure it, you cut it, you iron it, and you’re done. It adheres quite strongly and it actually disappears in the open spaces of the lace.

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Turn your shirt inside out. Don’t forget this step.

Place a strip of the Fusible Bonding Web in between the the layers of fabric. Depending on how much you need to take it, start 1-3 inches in from the bottom corner and go up to the armpit (see blue dotted line). Don’t try and mess too much with altering the armpit area, that gets messy really fast. Thankfully the loose fit is trendy these days, you just need it a little more fitted on the base.

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Heat up the iron, follow directions on the box for your bonding web and for your fabric. I’d recommend putting some parchment paper above and below the shirt, just to be saf. Give the shirt a good iron down and let it cool. This is what the shirt looks like after ironed, you can’t even see the webbing strip at all:

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Flip the shirt inside out, and you now have a more flattering shirt!

Repair #2 Replace Buttons

This one seems obvious, but a lot of people don’t do it. Also, if you are buying second hand, you can get a better deal on something if it’s missing a button, and then simply replace the button yourself on the cheap.

What you need:

  • A piece of clothing without a button
  • A button that matches
  • Strong thread
  • A needle

If you’re totally clueless, there are tons of detailed tutorials on how to sew a button, but here are some basic steps:

If you have the button that fell off, great!

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If not, search a pile of saved buttons (if you are a hoarder like myself) or head to a craft or sewing store and find a good matching button.

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Start with a simple knot on the hidden/back side of the clothing. Position your button in a way that matches the rest of the buttons.

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Start sewing! You will sew slightly loose to save space from the next step. If it’s a 4 hole button, be sure you sew across the button, not side to side.

After you’ve adequately sewn the button on, you will go between the button and the fabric and wrap securely around the threads multiple times.

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End the button by going through to the back side and tie one more solid knot. Voila!

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Repair #3 Covering Holes With Lace

What you need:

  • An item of clothing with holes in it
  • Lace ribbon
  • Sewing machine
  • Matching thread

I got this olive shirt for $1 at a thrift store sale. It fits great, I love the color and could use some more cute tees, but it had random holes in the shoulders.

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I also got a handful of lace ribbon from a garage sale a while back, and knew it would be perfect for this project. I cut a piece the length of the shoulder, and with a simple zigzag stitch, sewed the lace to the shoulder. Be sure to backstitch on both ends to help keep it in place.

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The holes are successfully covered at this point, but I wanted the lace to feel a little more cohesive with the rest of the shirt, so I decided to attach some to the slits in the sides of the shirt as well.

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The final product, just a little extra feminine:

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Mattea is a regular contributor to Let's Be Fair and an employee at Yobel Market.

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