Fix Your Clothes — The Sustainable Magic of Mending, Patching and Darning by Raleigh Briggs

There are lots of things (like taking care when laundering, wearing, and storing) we can do to help our clothes last. But if we’re serious about using an item of clothing for as long as it’s useful, comfortable, and appealing to us, then we’ll need to learn to do a bit of basic mending, too.

I don’t mean to make it sounds like such a task. I love to mend! It’s a bit meditative (once you nail your basic skills) and super rewarding.

Besides prolonging the life of your favorite sweater or shirt, basic sewing skills also come in very handy for giving a second life to hand-me-downs (maybe big brother’s now too-tight jeans will be perfect for little sis’, if you just hemmed them) or terrific finds at consignment shops or Goodwill (why pass up a great $3 skirt just because the side seam is ripped?).

Fixing a hem, sewing on a button, and repairing a torn seam are simple, satisfying tasks that instantly convert a worn item into one that’s perfectly useful again. Fix Your Clothes is a sweet, little, handwritten paperback (remember the original Moosewood Cookbook?) that will teach you these simple projects and more.

Briggs starts with a list of supplies, then teaches the basic sewing stitches you’ll need. (This sounds serious, but the writing is cheerful, simple, and very encouraging!) She shows how to properly sew on flat and shanked buttons, how to mend a seam, and how to patch holes (including the proper way and the “punk-patch special.”)

The chapter on hemming and fixing zippers is alone worth the modest cost of the book. And the directions for darning holes, should you choose to go old-school, are clear and promising. (Confession: I’ve yet to darn successfully – that is to say, in such a way that I didn’t wind up patching the hole afterwards. But I’ve yet to follow Briggs’ instructions, so maybe there’s hope for me yet!)

An unexpected finale on waterproofing canvas and nylon wraps up the book.

How do you feel about mending? Have you learned basic mending skills?

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