By Contributing Editor Kristina Strain

Interested in doing things yourself? Check out more articles in our
Make-Your-Own Guide.

It’s happened. In the rush to get out the door to an important meeting, your perfect goes-with-everything cardigan popped a button. Or else there was an awkward peekaboo moment involving your favorite skirt, a fancy dinner, and an unraveled seam. Everyone has missing-button and unraveled-seam clothes sitting in their closets. Most of us, right now, have a whole stack of t-shirts in a drawer that can best be characterized as “fitting like a potato sack.” We have pants that need hemming. Dresses that need mending. Do we let these things languish away on their hangers, or, worse, throw out the damaged or misshapen garment? Wouldn’t it make better ecological and economic sense to re-attach the popped button, repair the torn seam, re-shape that sack-like t-shirt?

From a sustainability perspective, having the knowledge and skills to maintain your wardrobe is super important. New clothes take lots of energy and resources to produce. The fibers are grown, the fabric is woven, cut, pressed, sewn, labeled, and shipped from halfway around the world to you. Keeping your clothes functional and wearable means fewer new ones getting made, less resources getting used, and more money in your wallet. Win-win-win.

For this article, I’ve assembled a list of the most common clothing repairs and alterations. Most of them require no more than five minutes, a needle and thread, and a well-lighted tabletop to work at. Get ready to resurrect some old favorites.

How to Sew a Button
How to Mend a Seam
How to Take in a Shirt
How to Hem
How to Mend a Hole

Related Articles:

Sew a Produce Bag

Rethinking Disposability

Re-fashion a Shirt