If you’ve made it onto the Movemetica website, you’ve probably thought about the life cycle of your clothing. The hands that made it. The fibres that went into it. The distance it has travelled. The time it will take to someday break down. It would be a shame to do all that excellent work of sourcing sustainable activewear only to throw it into the bin when it begins to show wear.
Maybe you snagged your favourite shirt on a blackberry bush on your hike, your bike shorts had a seam blowout or you got a dirty big grease stain on your comfiest leggings off the bike at your gym. Your initial reaction was probably some shouty swearing before you began to mourn their loss. But what if you could rescue your gear and give it another chance at life?
You don’t need to be a professional seamstress to mend your clothes. In fact, you don’t even need to have a sewing machine. A lot of these methods can be done with just a needle and thread (or even easier still, by giving them to someone else to repair!) Today we’ll take you through three ways to restore your well-worn wardrobe favourites so you can keep wearing them forever.
Learn the basics
Did you know many fast fashion stores will throw away a garment that’s missing a button, even though there’s a spare one sewed inside? By taking a few minutes to care and repair, we can save our clothes from landfill.
There are a few things that everyone should learn to do when it comes to mending your clothes. No ifs, no buts, no ‘but I’m terrible at sewing’. If you loved something enough to buy it and wear it, you should love it enough to mend it when it becomes broken. These repairs are all super simple and can be tackled with minimal sewing skills in less than half an hour.
First up, the button. If you’ve got a spare one tacked on the inner tag, you’re off to a flying start. If not, you can pick up cute and quirky buttons at second hand stores or head to Spotlight if you need to match other buttons. YouTube is going to be your best friend for all these repairs, check out this simple video on how to sew on a button.
Got a zipper that sticks? Grab a bar of soap or a grey lead pencil and gently rub it on the teeth of the area that’s sticking and you should have a smooth running zipper again.
Finally, learn to fix a fallen hem. If you’ve already mastered sewing on a button, you’ll have no trouble stitching up the hem with a needle and thread. If you’re not so confident, you can grab a roll of hemming tape and stick it to the area where the stitching has come undone. Fold up the hem and iron to activate the tape, then you’re done.
If you can’t raid your bestie or your mum’s sewing kit, it’s worth investing in your own. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just a step up from those tiny zip lock bag kits you find in hotels. The essentials you should be equipped with include some sewing needles, thread in a few basic colours that match your wardrobe, small scissors or snips, a tape measure, a quick unpick to rip out seams and some pins.
Get creative with visible mending
Okay, this is where things get really fun. If you’ve got a big hole in the knee of your pants or a stain that won’t come out no matter how much Napisan you use, why not patch up the problem with something beautiful?
Find a fun iron on patch that’s big enough to cover the flaw, or if you’re feeling more daring, try your hand at creating your own. Sashiko is the Japanese art of visible mending and we love the slow, mindful process. The technique uses embroidery thread to create long decorative stitches. You can reinforce worn out fabrics, or add a patch of fabric to repair tears. Ultimately, it’s about taking something that might be seen as a flaw and creating something beautiful. You can buy Sashiko needles and thread but it will also work with any long needle, heavy embroidery thread and scraps of fabric you have around the house.
Befriend an excellent seamstress or tailor
Ok, we did say you should learn to do these things yourself BUT if the problem is a little bigger, there’s nothing wrong with enlisting the help of a professional. It’s like your car - you might change a flat tyre yourself but if you hear a funny sound and suspect there’s a problem with the engine, you’ll be hightailing it straight to your local mechanic.
Hit up your local dry cleaner or search for alteration services in your area. When it comes to technical fabrics (like those used in activewear to give you all those good things like moisture wicking and UV protection!) it’s best to consult the experts. They know the best techniques and tools to use to return your gym gear to its former glory.
So what’s worth saving? And when is it actually time to say goodbye to your threadbare shirt? Once you get friendly with your neighborhood mender, they’ll be happy to share their wisdom on what is worth the time and cost of fixing. Things like holes near the seam, broken zippers and stretched out waistbands are easy to fix, whereas those thinning thighs on your leggings are probably past the point of redemption.
But just because you can’t save it, it doesn’t mean it should be bound for the bin. If you can’t repair it, you can repurpose your old clothing by using it for cleaning cloths, making a rag rug or patching other clothes. If you don’t have a use for it at home, organise for Upparel to collect your textiles for recycling and in return you’ll receive a Movemetica voucher as our little way of saying thanks for doing your bit.
- About the author -
"Rachel Wagner is a freelance writer and podcast producer currently riding out the storm on the Bellarine Peninsula. She writes about the good things in life - travel, culture, creativity and how to tread lightly on our Earth along the way. Follow her on Instagram @rachelshae or say hello at firstname.lastname@example.org"