A Few Quick Mending Jobs

I’m slowly but steadily working my way through a completely ENORMOUS pile of mending that has accumulated over the last year or so.  I really need to do a better job of keeping on top of my clothing repairs and sewing in the future!

IMG_1926This is just part of the pile. . .

I am taking in progress photos for a lot of the mending and altering in order to do tutorials, but some of it is so basic/simple that it doesn’t deserve a post of it’s own.  So here are a few of the quick repairs I’ve done all rolled up into one post.  Of course if you let a years worth of quick repairs build up, it isn’t really quick to do all of them at once.

One of the things that makes these kinds of repairs much easier and quicker to do is having the basics mending materials on hand.  Every sewer should eventually accumulate an assortment of threads, basic buttons, hooks and eyes, a few types of elastic.  In my sewing supplies  I am particularly fond of the 26 spool box of Guterman thread that I purchased at JoAnn’s fabric (note: the link is to Amazon–JoAnn’s online says no longer available but I know it still is in stores).

Gutermann Thread Box

It’s not cheap–$30 for the box ($40 on Amazon)–but it’s a perfect item to use one of those “50% off one regularly priced item” coupon  codes at JoAnn’s since they NEVER put it on sale.  If you want the exact shade you’ll have to bring the item/fabric into the store’s thread department to match–but for basic repairs having those 26 colors already in my sewing supplies makes life much easier!

My other secret weapon is Invisible Thread (sometimes called transparent or clear).IMG_2007Yup–you heard me right–it’s see through, made of nylon and basically like sewing with fishing line!  This stuff only works with machine sewing–but since it is clear it will appear to be whatever color you are sewing on.  Very handy when you don’t want to keep rethreading the machine with different colors every couple of minutes.  It is more expensive than standard thread–so for larger jobs I just buy the right color thread.

Now on to a couple of mending jobs.

First I had a couple of reusable shopping bags with handle issues.  The strap was still there but in both cases had come loose.  Luckily for me there was no tearing or anything on the bag–I just had to reattach them.  I pinned them in place and then ran them up on the sewing machine.  It didn’t even matter what color thread I had loaded in there–they didn’t have to particularly match or look good.

Fixing reuseable shopping bag Straps

These straps could have been fixed with hand sewing as well using a simple backstitch. I would have gone all the way around in a box and then made an X through the center for durability–after all, when these bags are full of groceries they can be quite heavy.

Next came a little lace tank top that belongs to Princess.  The binding had torn away under the arm.

mending torn binding on a lace tank top

I already had a spool of thread on hand that was a very close match to the fabric color from my Gutermann thread box.  The fabric wasn’t torn–the binding (made of the same lace) had just come loose.  That made this a very simple repair.  I just pinned the binding back on and used a quick whip stitch in the matching color.  The repair is pretty much invisible.

If the fabric had been torn this would have been more difficult–I probably would have done my best to sew it back together and then taken a look–it probably wouldn’t have been particularly pretty–but being in the underarm region would have hidden it for the most part and I’m confident I could have made a serviceable repair.

The last quick repair was a button that had fallen off.  I had been smart enough to pin the button on to the sweater so that it wasn’t lost–then it was just a simple matter of replacing a shank button (using button/craft/upholstery thread for strength).

Replacing a button on a cardigan sweater

If the button had been completely lost I would have gone through my button jar and chosen a plain, solid colored button of the correct size that I had 7 of–probably a basic black.  Alternately I could have headed to the store and just purchased 7 new metal shank buttons–if I found something that was close enough to pass at a distance I might have even gone cheap charlie and purchased a single button that was a close match–I would have removed the bottom button (ie the least noticeable), place the “almost a match” button on the bottom and then put the actual match button on the missing spot half way up.

Those are my first few quick mending jobs.  I hope that this inspires you to fix up a few items in your family’s wardrobe that just need a quick repair!

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  1. says

    Way to go Jenn! I find that getting to mending is hard, but those jobs are on the easy side.
    One tip for readers – Invisible thread is a great tool, but the ends against sensitive skin gets really scratchy. I’ve had clothes that they’ve used it around the neck and I ended up getting rid of the clothes because it was so irritating around the neck. So just keep that in mind when using it; some places it doesn’t matter but others it scratches.

  2. says

    Buttons are expensive, especially METAL ones. If you had lost the metal button, I would have suggested hitting up a thrift shop, and seeking out another item with shank buttons (hopefully with the same total number as required for the item you are addressing) and buy the second item for far less, just for the buttons, vs buying new, metal buttons. Alternatively, do you know anyone with a button box or 2? they may have just what you are looking for, and I would also do the trick you mention: move the like style buttons together, towards the top of the garment and put the spare, replacement button that it comparable but not exact, on the bottom, where it won’t get as noticed!
    Carol in CT

    • says

      Carol–what a great tip about purchasing a thrift store item just for the buttons! Thanks so much for sharing. As you saw in the photos, I have a button jar rather than box, and unfortunately did not have any other metal shank buttons. I was so glad I hadn’t lost the replacement!

      I agree that buttons are expensive–ridiculously so for what they are in fact. Sometimes it is worth it to have everything match perfectly however–and considering the sweater in question retails new for $94, if I had to spend $6 or $8 on buttons to bring it up to snuff it would be a reasonable cost.

  3. says

    With children, if you don’t mend their clothes in a timely manner, you will find they’ve outgrown them before the item is repaired. That’s why I’m very picky about what goes in the mending pile. If it was a hand-me-down to begin with, I may just conclude it has outlived its usefulness and chuck it.

    • says

      So true. Several of my “repairs” aren’t worth it, but I’ve got a bunch of things that are more of alterations that should be worthwhile–cutting down pants to shorts, making old dresses into skirts. That kind of thing.

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