A Stitch in Time…

64 Arts

… saves a costly repair fee!

Woman has relied heretofore too entirely for her support on the needle – that one-eyed demon of destruction that slays thousands annually; that evil genius of our sex, which, in spite of all our devotion, will never make us healthy, wealthy, or wise.

–Elizabeth Cady Stanton

She may have been instrumental in securing women the right to vote, but I’ll bet even she knew how important it was to look presentable–clothes are our first bit of armor in polite society and a missing button is a target for many things.

Sewing, mending and basic repairs are, often, left these days to the dry cleaner or someone much more “crafty” than the wearer. Or, in a frightening case of predictive fiction, we’ve become like the society in Huxley’s Brave New World:

“Ending is better than mending. The more stitches, the less riches”

We toss items that merely need a quick fix, often because the knowledge of how-to is no longer second nature.

Sure, some things are definitely left to the pro’s–shoe repair is quite specialized and I’m not sure I’d trust walking on a heel held together only by Gorilla Glue (a former coworker’s answer to everything–including bullet holes in our front window).

But basic mending is simple, even if you’ve no desire to make your own clothes from scratch.

The two most common problems (and how to fix them):

  • How to replace a button (shank-style or flat). The trick with flat (2- or 4-hole) buttons is to slip a toothpick between the fabric and button before you tighten your first loop to make sure there’s enough room to maneuver when you’re getting dressed.
  • How to fix a fallen hem with a nearly invisible stitch. It’s the details that make the difference between looking hand-stitched and no one ever noticing (though, in a pinch, duck tape will get you through the day).

Now, ready to wear clothing was a real turning point for the fashion industry. Being able to buy off-the-rack meant more people had access to more styles and things could be made ahead for sale rather than custom tailored.

The down side? We don’t all look the same. One size 10 might be differently proportioned than another size 10, and let’s not even get into the fact that one store’s size isn’t necessarily the same as another’s! Tailored clothing looks better, but it can cost a fortune. Unless, that is, you know how to make simple alterations on your own.

What are the biggies to worry about? Those things that shout “bad fit!”?

  • Hems that drag the ground or puddle around your feet (even when wearing heels).
  • Shirts that ride up because they’re too snug.
  • Shirts that you swim in because they’re too big.
  • Shoulders that slope so far they show your bra strap (no, Flashdance didn’t really come back, y’all!).
  • Bulging zippers or button plackets

Some of these can be fixed with a new hem or a well-placed dart or two, others might require inserting extra fabric of there’s not enough seam to let out. In the latter case, you might want to take it to a pro–they’ll be much better at hiding inserts and such.

Fit is important–it makes us look put together instead of thrown-together and (especially us fluffy girls) can take the focus off the clothes on onto who’s wearing them.

6 thoughts on “A Stitch in Time…

  1. I am only 5 feet tall and a sewing machine is a must. I tailor all my clothes because it would cost a fortune if I had to have it done professionally. My mom taught me and my sister to sew when we were little girls and I am very grateful for that. When you have the ability to mend and sew, things last much longer! Great post!

    1. Thanks, Liz!

      I actually have my mom’s old machine–it’s almost as old as I am and still runs great! She liked to sew but prefers to do it by hand so she taught me chain stitch as a child and that’s what I used for years before I started following patterns and learning other stitches.

  2. I cry if a button falls off. Well, not exactly, but I cannot mend to save my life, especially buttons. I inherited what we in my family, call the shaky shake. I have a tremble to my hands, just like my father did. It’s a pain for anything involving small motor skills.

    I do, though, have a lovely, inexpensive tailor right down the street from me. She’s a very sweet Asian woman and she calls me the little white girl. Funny, since I am the same size as her. But we keep her in business, because I agree, a well tailored outfit makes all the difference.

    1. A good tailor is just as good as sewing skills if that’s what works for you πŸ™‚

      While I was doing some advance work for a post for later this module I was thinking of you–it had to do with shoes!

  3. I don’t know my style. I like too many things. I change day to day.

    I dress one way, then I notice someone dressed another, and I want to do that, too.

    Is that a good thing? Is that a bad thing?

    Please, come help me?

    1. Aw, Sweet Empress A, you sound like a trend follower (even if it’s not the big up-to-the-minute New York fashion week runway trends) and there’s nothing wrong with that: it keeps life interesting.

      I’d be willing to bet, though, that you’re not 100% chameleon (call it a hunch) and that there are pieces and styles that you fall back on, your comfort zone.

      The way to figure this out is to really look at your closet and group things by type or color or material. Maybe the next time you do your laundry you notice which pieces get the most wear. That’s a good start to figuring out your style. Then start looking at the other ways you see and really think about *what* makes that outfit seem interesting: is it just that it’s new and different or are you drawn to certain colors, certain cuts, certain textures? And definitely try the style collage exercise–it’s fun and informative.

      And if you find out you really do like to change your look all the time, consider consignment as a way to refresh your wardrobe without breaking the bank or over-stuffing your closets πŸ™‚

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