5 essentials for a 'make do and mend' sewing kitOctober 13, 2016
If you visit Susannah Place Museum , in The Rocks, Sydney, there's a tiny bedroom with single wardrobe and a dress. Though I visited tha...
If you visit Susannah Place Museum, in The Rocks, Sydney, there's a tiny bedroom with single wardrobe and a dress. Though I visited that dress many years ago, the story of it being shared by sisters and mended, re-hemmed and resized was a reminder to rethink the clothing items I throw or give away.
SOME of my best op shop finds have come to me as a result of the smallest mending job: a missing button, a dropped hem, a dart in the wrong place or a tiny hole in a knitted garment.
Buttons are easy to replace and I know my local Red Cross Shop says its the task that keeps volunteers most busy in preparing good quality garments for resale.
Mending is by no means difficult but it requires a few basic supplies. Here's my list of must-have mending items.
1. Poly-cotton thread in black and white.Choose a polyester and cotton blend thread. They'll last longer and stand up to whatever your washing machine throws at it. Black and white threads will do for most mending jobs, but if you can match the thread to the fabric of your garment it will look better.
2. NeedlesYou don't need a vast selection of needles, but for a beginner, look for those marked as sewing needles and opt for something a little longer, say 4cm to 5cm with a bigger eye for threading the cotton through.
3. Small scissorsYou can use any pair of scissors for mending. They're really only for cutting the thread. However, a small pair in your kit means you can pull the kit out and go rather than hunt down the kitchen or office scissors (why do they always seem to go missing).
4. Quick unpickA quick unpick, or seam ripper, once you've mastered its use your best friend in the mending kit. Stick that little hook in, make sure the fabric's clear and rip. You'll wonder how you managed without it.
5. Tape measureYou won't need this for your first mending jobs but I recommend having one. It's so much easier to measure out where a button should sit (mark it with a lead pencil or piece of regular chalk, it'll wash out) or the depth of a hem than guessing it. My top thrift tip for measuring tapes is to measure the waists and shoulders of your best-fitting pants and shirts or jackets and use the tape to judge whether a thrifted garment will fit. There are still some op shops, markets and junk stores that don't have a handy place to change. Use the tape and you'll know whether your bargain will be something you can wear when you get it home.
Seriously, that's the basics. My most recent mending jobs have needed not much more than that and a few extras like buttons, elastic and a little tapestry wool to darn a knitted jumper.
We might aspire to capsule collections or minimalist wardrobes but not so long ago - and in the era of a living generation - a minimalist, bare necessities approach was the norm. We knew how to mend and honestly, it's not hard and there are plenty of YouTube videos to walk you through the basics.
Don't throw that loved piece of clothing. Take a closer look. If it's an easy mending job, get to it.