Repair: Holes in Clothes

Just a quick little reminder but small holes can be repaired quite easily and not end up distracting, sometimes they can even be quite subtle.

These are my athletic shoes. I wear them everyday. They are from last June, so over a year old. The way my big toe is, it rubs against the top of shoes, which is why I have to be careful to get a taller what I call “toe box” so my toe can move around as a walk.

Anyway, a small hole started several months ago and turned into the size hole you see here. It’s not so noticeable when my foot is flat but all my socks are neon colors so when I walk the toe sticks up along with the bright sock. I decided it was time to fix it.

I just took a needle and regular black thread and pulled all the edges together. I go a bit past the torn spot to get a sturdy bit, sew the tear together, and then sew a bit into another sturdy bit on the otherside of the tear. I can’t feel it and it blends in very well.

I do have heel inserts in these shoes to help with the constant pressure and to provide some additional support since I wear them so much. If the shoe gets to the point where I feel the support is insufficient for me, or would be to another person I would donate them too, I will remove the shoe laces to keep for other purposes, like my face masks or craft projects, then recycle the shoes through Goodwill, Nike’s Reuse-a-Shoe, or Asics. I would make a homemade lace-up activity for my son.

The mend here puckered a tiny bit, but otherwise I’m happy with it. The shirt is a limited edition and I’m sentimental so I wanted it fixed. The hole was about the size of a pencil eraser and obvious hence the mend.

If the hole or stain is in a place wear you can wear a button or broach, that is also a good option, though you have to remember to add the brooch which is another decision to make when getting ready in the mornings.

If the hole is too large to quick stitch, or it’s a tear, stain or sticker residue, take a page from the 1940s House and try moving a pocket to cover the issue. Fabric today isn’t that sturdy (in general it’s designed to wear out quickly) so my version on this issue is to find a really cool patch to iron or sew on over the problem.

My husband isn’t allowed to wear t-shirts by brand competitors at his job, so I ordered patches on Etsy that would fit over various logos and sewed them on. They are actually more fun and represent his personality so we like the shirts better this way. Plus he loves the work/love I put into picking out patches just for him. <3

Patches come in many sizes, colors and themes and are available at craft and fabric stores though these stores tend to call patches “appliques” if you’re doing a search. Make sure you pay attention to the process of application if it matters to you: there are iron on and sew on. I don’t have luck with iron on things so I sewed ours on, plus there’s no way the edges will ever curl up. Keep in mind that glitter and sequins are plastic, will become litter if they fall off and they usually do. Pick a sturdy patch that will withstand laundering.

I first got interested in mending watching 1940s House on PBS. When I found this Make Do and Mend compilation of WWII British tips, many of which were featured in 1940s House, I had to have it. It’s amazing! Unfortunately, clothes aren’t made as well now so a lot of these sturdy tips are hard to accomplish on flimsy fabrics or work better on cooler weather fabric like wool which doesn’t do me a lot of good here in Texas. Sturdy cottons do well with some of these ideas. Mendablility is another reason to buy quality clothes that last, first or secondhand, buy or find quality pieces that you can repair.

I don’t have luck mending most socks, I think the fabric on a lot of them is too thin, I feel everything as does my husband. Mending works fine for wool and hiking socks (the thicker fabrics), but not everyday socks, for us at least. It never hurts to try, just be aware you may feel the mend. I may try embroidery floss for mending socks next time instead of thread, It should be flatter and softer.

I do recommend you keep your old jeans to use to patch and repair subsequent jeans. I wish I had a picture for you. One of the repairs/reuses I am most proud of was using an old piece of jean pants to fill in a triangle cut-out in a secondhand jean skirt I bought. The cut-out was in the front which was not going to work for me but the shape and fit of the skirt itself were perfect so I filled in the hole. I loved it for years! I’ve also used lots of old pieces to mend knees and butts over the years. I don’t have a current set to show you but so you have some ideas I’m mentioning it.

Make sure to look into Kate Sekules new book, Mend! A Refashioning Manual and Manifesto which came out this week. Check out Kate on Instagram for ideas and inspiration.While I’m more of a patch girl myself, I appreciate the art of mending and embroidery and hope to learn more. I have a sap stain on one of my favorite shirts that would be great for a lovely flower embroidery if I get the nerve! Kate and others like her are working to make mending socially acceptable again. In times of need (think pre-industrial revolution) or war (WWII rationing), it was the norm, economical, even a source of pride. Let’s bring back this repair skill, show of individuality, and green action.

For Fix-It at Home! online classes on how to repair clothes and more (like bikes), follow Austin Recycles on Facebook, the page for Austin Resource Recovery. Check out their class September 16 on “Patches & hems on a sewing machine.”

What mends and repairs are you most proud of?

What is a unique repair you have made on clothes?

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