Those with loose odds and ends around the house or the closet know sewing is a major asset. Here’s how to do it with buttons, patches and baskets.
Do you have a shirt button missing, pants that need a patch or socks that need to be darned? Long considered a craft art, sewing is a skill that everyone should know. It’s easy to learn, and knowing how will help you extend the life of your clothing. Here are some of the basics you should know.
Your sewing basket
You don’t really need a large basket to mend your clothing; basic sewing basket items will fit into an old shoe box or cookie tin. Here are some tips about what you need and how to store it:
- Keep sewing and darning needles of various sizes in a pin cushion or piece of soap. Yes, soap! It coats needles, helping them pass easily through thick, firm fabrics.
- Try using a magnet as a pin cushion; you can also use it to gather up lost needles.
- Store pins and safety pins in a small matchbox.
- Store a selection of silk and cotton sewing thread, plus darning thread in common colours, as well as some yarn for thick fabrics.
- Add a thimble, darning egg, seam cutter, scissors and perhaps a needle threader to complete your sewing kit.
- Stay organized by stringing buttons together by colour. If not, as time goes by, buttons will accumulate in the sewing basket, making it difficult to find the one you want. Store extra ones for specific articles of clothing in transparent, labeled bags.
Don’t let a missing button be the end of any garment.
- Before you lose a loose button and have to dig up a replacement, sew the original on properly.
- Avoid damaging a favourite blouse when cutting off buttons by inserting a comb between the fabric and the button before snipping the threads.
- Sew on a button with four holes in a crisscross shape so if one thread breaks — the second keeps the button in place.
- Use a matchstick as a spacer between button and fabric. Once you’ve fastened the button, remove the matchstick. Then secure the button with multiple strands to reinforce it and finish with a couple of extra stitches on the back of your fabric with the ends of the thread.
- Avoid tearing out fabric on the button facing, especially on coats, by sewing an additional flat button onto the inside when sewing on a button.
Sewing on patches
At some point in time, articles of clothing, otherwise in excellent condition, will need patches. Usually elbows, knees and the crotch area are first to fall. When sewing on patches, consider the following:
- Hand stitch iron-on patches along the edges when patching stretchy fabrics.
- Sew together holes in knitted items before applying a patch, to ensure they don’t get larger.
- Sew on an inside backer made from previously discarded denim when patching a favourite pair of well-worn jeans.
- Use a sewing machine to attach patches to tough fabrics such as denim.