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mending our clothes...do you?  RSS feed

 
Judith Browning
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I do mend some things as almost all of my clothes are thrift store finds...not always with the best of practices though.
I've always loved old time 'mends' where it is almost as though they were 'proud' of the hole and took great pains to repair.
I like to buy pieces of fabric with nice 'mends'...tableclothes, overalls...etc all hand stitched, before the popular 'iron on' patches and other 'quick' fixes.
...and I still love the embroidered patches of my generation's take on mending

This story is what prompted me to start this post.....
http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/may/19/the-rise-of-mending-how-britain-learned-to-repair-clothes-again

It links to this http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/may/19/the-rise-of-mending-how-britain-learned-to-repair-clothes-again
just one of many 'lost' skills

 
Joseph Lofthouse
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I tend to re-purpose clothes. By the time my jeans get thin enough to rip a hole in the knee, or around the back pocket, the threads are so bare that patches don't really hold. However, if I cut off the legs below the rip, there is enough fabric left over to turn a pair of jeans into a kilt. And with the stress of wrapping around the legs relieved, a worn out kilt will last for many more years. About the only time I do a proper mend on a piece of clothing, is if I rip a hole in something that is relatively new.




 
Robyn Holmes
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Why yes I do - but I think that's because I sew almost all my own clothes (and I'm cheap - ahem, I mean frugal). Not to mention I grew up across the street from my next-to-youngest-depression-era-farm-girl-Grandma who could not abide waste, and neither can I.
 
Steve Oh
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Yes, I do most of the repairs myself, by hand. After a sister-in-law borrowed our sewing machine (a decade ago) and forgot to return it, I just started mending everything with a needle and thread. Today, it was just three buttons, but the boys are hard on their jeans and they often need patching or seams/pockets repaired.

On my own gardening clothes, I do several "preemptive" repairs, like adding a second layer to the knees and adding a few extra stitches to stress points. I also add a few buttons on the back of my hiking pants, around the waist just below my beltline, so I can button on a square of damp-proof fabric and sit without a wet arse. Because, for some reason, I inevitably only have spare time to enjoy the wilderness on days when said wilderness is quite "moist". It might look silly, but that flap keeps me comfortable. I originally just sewed a kind of reverse apron with a tie around the waist, but the knot and rope always got in my way, so I switched to buttons.
 
Olga Booker
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Yes I do also. I darn socks (my favourite), mend frayed cuffs, change busted zips, patch elbow holes in jumpers and knee holes in jeans, replace buttons, lengthen or shorten as needed, embroider on a stain, darn holes in jumpers and when it gets to the very end of its life, each item is used as rags, duster or buffer. I have a fair collection of old zips and buttons that I remove before relegating an item to the rag box. I've even "un-knitted" an old jumper to make something else with it like a scarf or a hat. It is actually quite fun.
 
Roberto pokachinni
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I start off with thrift store clothes. These are often wool or heavy denin. I use them for railway labor work, and when they fray or get holey or I shrink them too much through excessive laundering, I use them as patches for the next batch. Other guys spend heaps of cash on new work-wear clothes, while I hand sew patches while hanging out with Dad watchin his sports or jeopardy (not really my thing anymore, but it's good bonding for us). I also do pre-emptive patching down my shins/knees (particularly on my left since my prosthetic tends to really wear out pants), elbows, cuffs, etc on clothes that I think are worth the extra work to begin with.
 
Galadriel Freden
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I darn, darn, darn....I've got a pair of merino wool leggings that must have about fifty darns by now, but by golly, I'm not throwing them out! Po, by the way, was my darning egg for the above mend job (which I'm sure you'll agree is completely invisible to the naked eye), but I rarely use one now except for socks. I keep a light bulb instead of Po in my mending basket these days.
 
David Livingston
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Thanks for the light bulb tip
 
Karen Donnachaidh
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A square of the same color scrap material behind the hole and a checkerboard pattern stitching it on. How's that for a knee patch?
IMG_20160409_120926113.jpg
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Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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Mending, darning, upcycling, unraveling, recycling materials, etc. ... I do it all! It's like a hobby to me. A useful hobby, because I don't have to buy new clothes (and other new stuff) often.
Here you see me wearing my upcycled cardigan. The crochet and embroidery I did with unraveled fine wool.
 
Deb Rebel
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I have been sewing for five decades. I have truly and honestly worn out old beloved sewing machines beyond repair. I also recently changed size (22W to 10) and hit the thrift store plus retailoring my current wardrobe.

My spouse is hard on chore jeans and one tractor needs a new seat and it bites his jeans all the time, this was a recent mend to make them 'donuts and coffee' wearable (nice rural town, they understand work or chore clothes)
20151008_56.JPG
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Reinforced Jeans
 
Karen Donnachaidh
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Great patching job. And congratulations on the size change!
 
Deb Rebel
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Karen Layne wrote:Great patching job. And congratulations on the size change!


Thank you on both. Backside of that is the donor material, and after the sewing is trimmed near the outer edge of the zigzag. Some jeans have 2-3 layers. Santa is going to bring him a new seat one of these days just so I don't have to keep doing that to his jeans.
He also wore one of my new sweatshirts before I changed size and got grease ALL over it, so I cut out stars and moons from a donor and appliqued them zigzagged down all over the black stains. It was cheaper than hiding him in the compost... I don't have a picture of that shirt as I gave it to another friend that is still on her shadow-trimming journey. (from 26 to 22 and still going)
 
John Wolfram
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In the past I've mended jeans when they tore, but when practically new jeans are available at 2nd hand stores for a few dollars I tend to just re-purpose jeans after they have worn out these days. Shown below is an image of a plum tree branch being held down by a denim loop tied to a cinder block (also re-purposed).
 
Erica Wisner
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I mend jeans (over a fence is good for holes), apron (same, 2x), most mended recently are the straps on my purse (too heavy?)

I can't keep up with Ernie's holes-in shirts, nor will he wear the new ones if an old holey favorite is handy, but I will sew up excessive holes (armpits and such). Keep teasing him about backing all those holes with day-glo, reflective, or silvery fish scales so they will really catch the eye, but haven't done it yet.

There is a marvelous method for finer clothing called a "French patch," where you take a o oversize swatch of the original material, line up any pattern, and pull loose a bunch of the outer threads. Then pin the heart of the patch over the hole, and weave the outer threads back into the main piece, so that it appears to be one piece of material.

Darning - mostly delicate or favorite sweaters; we had moths in a previous house. Sometimes I will spin a little yarn for a closer match.

I also love turning favorite things into other things at the end of them. A handmade wool skirt that had been shrunk, nibbled, and altogether unusable had enough good sections to make Ernie some light-weight liner gloves.

And sometimes I like to upgrade clothes if I find a way. Take in a shirt, expand an apron with contrast color or ruffles.
I recently added extra buttons and outdoor-canvas-enhanced buttonholes to my apron, so it can become a giant kangaroo pocket.

Aprons are like tool belts with ruffles.
 
Deb Rebel
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Our town does small dumpsters (about 10 cu yards) put in strategic areas around at the curbs. (once a week the truck comes by, picks them up and empties them). I have two on my property edge (which has a county road going through, paved)Someone threw out a bunch of teeshirts and a couple of sweaters today. They are going through my washer right now to be turned into donors for other things-like the whole armful of almost new sweatpants I inherited in my new size but have NO pockets. One sweater will be perfect for an unravel and turned into caps, scarves, and the like.
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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Erica Wisner wrote: ... I recently added extra buttons and outdoor-canvas-enhanced buttonholes to my apron, so it can become a giant kangaroo pocket.
Aprons are like tool belts with ruffles.

I like wearing an apron too, sometimes I fold it to carry stuff in it; so the idea of adding buttons and button-holes sounds very usefull to me Erica!
My aprons don't have ruffles b.t.w. They're the Scandinavian type: sling behind the neck, apron from chest to knees, straps to tie behind the back at waist, and a large pocket on the belly
 
Linda Secker
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I'd love to see a picture of your aprons Erica
 
Deb Rebel
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Worked today at our thrift store, it was a bit short of help and I could lift and drag. Management changed and they were clearing out. I paid THEM $20 for 8 big garbage bags of clothes that were going to be landfilled (along with some odd bits of glassware and a few old books). Sorting my treasures this evening and washing them to see what I inherited. I think I have at least fifteen pairs of jeans that need minor mends that will fit and several more that will be craft fodder, and five sweaters that are ravel-fodder, plus a whole bunch of tees and non-knit cotton. Plus four blankets. The blankets are past bed or quilt filling, but can be run through and saved for covering things in spring and fall. I have a number of superdwarf containerized trees that could use custom bags to help save the blooms in the spring.... so five hours of grunt and a donation, was a win-win. You see preowned, I see FABRIC and future wardrobe fodder. As I sit here my sewing machine is at my elbow, I went through the entire wardrobe and am turning raggy knees and past help stuff into summer shorts and reinforcing chore clothes elbows and knees; adjusting things to new size for me, and recycling to repair or improve other things. And gifting the ragbag with what doesn't make the cut. I have holed and stained and ripped sheets to turn into bags and pillowcases, also that and denim to turn into ties for plants, and sheer curtains that are yellowed, stained, and ripped to be turned into produce bags, bug covers for tender plants and the strawberry crop row covers. If you can sew and mend, you can do good things.

If possible, applique over your mend. It gives the item new life and can cover permanent stains, burns, and rips.
 
Larisa Walk
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I've always mended my clothes and household textiles. But I'm even more motivated to do so because my main clothing source is being cut off. Other than a few handmade pieces, the bulk of our woven textiles have been purchased used. The detergent and laundry product perfumes have always been an issue for me requiring multiple washes and weeks hanging outdoors to off-gas. But now with the new laundry products that I see advertised as longer lasting fragrances, including stuff added solely for that purpose, I find that it's almost impossible to de-stink textiles. It also means that I can't be in close quarters with anyone wearing clothes washed/dried with those products, whether in a public space or in my home. A couple of times I've had to do the wash and hang out for weeks treatment with cushion covers from a chair that a visitor sat on in my home. I've even noticed the smell on used baskets and other porous items that have come into contact with perfumed products. This problem started for me a couple of decades ago when I was working as an election judge in our small township and the election was held in the town garage. I came home smelling of diesel fuel - in my hair, skin, and clothes. It seemed that no amount of bathing could get rid of the smell and I was sick for a couple of days after. I still have reactions to diesel now and also the perfumes, plus formaldehyde in building products, etc. My world has gotten much smaller as a result. I'm looking at ways to weave fabric to make wearables for warm weather clothes. I've always been a seamstress and also a spinner and crocheter/knitter and have tons of winter gear. But I'm looking at refining some of my skills to make the lighter weight cloth for our hot and humid summers. Until then I'm patching everything beyond when I would have ordinarily considered it time to recycle to rags, etc.
 
Karen Donnachaidh
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Larisa Walk wrote: " I still have reactions to diesel now and also the perfumes, plus formaldehyde in building products, etc."


I used to work in the garment manufacturing industry. I had to ask once, "What is the nasty smell that's created when the material is ironed?". I was told that it was the formaldehyde used to preserve the material.
I've also noticed that I cannot stay in a (new) clothing store for very long before my eyes turn red and start to burn. Used clothing stores don't affect me. I glad for that since the GW is my favorite store.
 
Deb Rebel
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If you are trying to deal with perfumes in your laundry/fabrics, try a HOT vinegar rinse, as in seriously get it wet with a 1:4 of vinegar and soak for 5 or so minutes, then rinse three to five times changing water every time. Give it another pass with baking soda and borax about a quarter cup of each, in your biggest stockpot, then rinse out and line dry in the sun.

It will strip the finishes and formaldehyde and such from most fabrics.

I am weird in that I'm allergic to Cheer Free, it causes me to itch to no end. I find that an occasional vinegar then baking soda/borax wash will take out residual soap in my garments and make them feel better. Thrift store and rummage sale finds I often have to give that treatment to get rid of odors. Cheapest vinegar I can find, and my huge stockpot on the stove to heat the water. I put the water in then the vinegar, then heat. Or the baking soda/borax in then the water, stir as I heat to dissolve, then put the clothes in. Fill the stockpot only about half full of water and whatever, so you have enough room to get the fabric in. Don't cram it tightly, as you need to swish the fabric around some with a really sturdy wooden spoon or thick dowel (I use a piece of old mop handle). And have a pail or basin to lift the cloth into when taking it out and be careful all the way around.
 
Jen Gira
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I think the biggest thing I can stress, coming from prior to "permie freak out move to the middle of nowhere", working as a costume designer, concept designer, and textile archivist, Is that if you can, (and it is feasible for you) really check the labels even at your thrift store. Why I am saying this, is that usually, items that are from even the early 70s and prior, will be made of higher quality fabrics, better stitching, stronger or reinforced seams, and -and this is the important one- Most clothing prior to 1970 had as a standard, about 1.5 inches of seam allowance between each seam. As production, like everything else happened in the mid 70s, this seam allowance was whittled and whittled down to almost nothing. This seam allowance is fantastic, a) for the obvious, if you need to let something out, or perhaps that "Retro" hemline or cuff is not doing it for you/or you need the fabric because you're tall- But also can serve another purpose if you are crafty and acquire a few skills- you can use this- carefully to patch. Comes in handy. I advise against, buying "thrift" that is less than 15-20 years old. This is because, during this time, production in every sense (from the fabric mill, pattern making, to garment construction) was pressed to the outer limits of wearability. The "fast fashion" of the 90s and 00s, is all falling apart, almost all Made in China by children, and for that H&M shirt you found at the thrift store unused, maybe marked $24.99, It was half that at wholesale, and at cost, you are getting to around 5 bucks, and think of what that means, when you have to factor in fabric production, the labor, and shipping it across the sea in a giant container ship powered by fossil fuels-and you will see, a huge part of a greater problem. Often these manufacturers will sell these items at a loss. (which hurts economy in general, and is often what is read about in the news as "dumping"-China is notorious, for tires, etc) It ends up in your Goodwill, because a tax write off was given to the company. It is great if it helps a charity, but even you buying the item at $5.00 is not really helping this completely unsustainable wheel, because the item will wear out in 9 months or less usually.

I am 100% convinced that any person who is into going to thrift stores, at this point in time, if they search and put in a little effort, can still find something from the pre 1990s era quite easily, that will last them at least 3-5 years. I used to tell my clients that for each decade in clothing manufacture, you should minus about 10-15 years of life from the 1900s. There is a reason why your grandpa's overalls were still a regular item he wore 70 years later. Try that with a new pair of Levis. Rant finished

But I suppose since I did market research and consulting on the age and life of clothing, even secondhand (not vintage) sold in thrifts and off price retailers, I actually know, people are better off, even if they aren't into "vintage", simply looking for that red and black plaid shirt that was made in the 1960s, versus the one that was made in 2005- this is simply from a fabric/seams/pattern perspective. That comes into play when you need to repair it, or sadly, the fabric is so cheap, you barely can mend it, and it breaks again.


I also think, that if you have to continually mend and mend, you should perhaps examine the clothing you are wearing, and if you'd like, take a picture of the label, or tell me about it, and I will probably be able to tell you that the reason you have to mend it over and over, is not actually that you do really hard farm chores- it has to do with how it was made. There are exceptions of course, but I have a french military parachute bag from WWII. It has a few mends (some bullet holes ha) but overall, It has hardly any mends, and I use this often to carry TOOLS, and heavy equipment. sharp things, etc. It was designed to accept strain and take odd shaped items, and its fabric was designed to accept impact- whether that was a sharp item, or rubbing from wear. This is a great example of how good design and quality fabric, have made this bag sturdy and perfect for pretty much any hauling job I have- (and also was great for the person who owned it 70+ years before)


I can certainly sew, but often, if it is "chore clothing, garden clothes," etc- I don't always want to spend the time doing a mend like I would on a nicer pair of pants or a favorite vintage dress. Same goes for my clients, husband, etc. It is more "get it done and get back out there"- Unless it is a major hobby or cottage industry, or perhaps you do get "joy" out of sewing and doing things- I am of the opinion that most folks just want to get back to doing their stuff.

I was asked this all the time when I owned a shop, and though it always looks better to sew, there are several iron one seam/mend products that, if you have a good iron, anyone can use. I would stay away from "stich witchery" and go for something called "ultra bond"- This is a wardrobe/film kit supply item, and it actually will create a strong seam that will not break. This is key, if you have an actor split their pants, and millions of dollars are being spent filming a scene. You can't really stop, and sew by hand, while an entire film crew waits. (I am getting stressed out flashbacks just thinking about it ugh!)


Another thing I would like to share with the community, is my GO TO thread. It is really thick. It is called "Furriers Skein"- It is not made of animal, but it is to resemble Sinew.- which is obviously very strong. Primarily used for sewing up rips in furs and leather, this thread. (which is not easy to find, but I have included a link to the shop I order it from for you It kicks every threads' butt. There is nothing one can buy, whether that is the finest Guterman threads, or anything you'd get at a sewing shop. Nothing compares to this. It is, I suppose something that is from the "old school" I had never seen this, (and many other genius items) until I moved to New York, because to work in production, and had to find things in the garment district.

https://www.wardrobesupplies.com/products/silamide-thread

When I have a rip of a seam comes loose, 90 percent of the time, I reach for this thread, and a "glovers needle"- This needle is a specialist item. (and don't buy the "glovers needle" they sell at places like Joann, buy this one


https://www.wardrobesupplies.com/products/leather-needles-large-5pk

It will seem "hardcore" to most sewing folks who are used to the needles they sell at Joann, but despite it being a bit of a "beast" (yes, I would avoid this one on silk fabrics, but even on thin linen, it rules, and doesn't damage the fabric-because it is a professional item-and very sharp, get a thimble for sure, or you will bleed!)

Just in the past couple of weeks, I had to mend a cotton/flannel work shirt, a pair of jeans, a dog toy (ha ha yes), and I was done in a flash. The thing about this thread and needle is that you don't use much, and it creates a strong seam right away. You can finish your mend by hand in the time it takes to thread your bobbin and set up your sewing foot on your machine. I like it because I can quickly mend something 'annoying' (like a ripped out pocket on a collared work shirt) quickly and using my own ingenuity- than ripping out the pocket and using the machine, or having to do 2-3 runs with even that "jean" thread or "heavy duty" thread that I pick up now and again from regular sewing shops. It just doesn't compare. I guess it is like comparing some Ikea furniture to Shaker 1800s furniture. You shake your head in disbelief and wonder how all those years you had no idea these tools existed.

That was actually how I felt the first time I visited "Manhattan Wardrobe Supply" in NYC. (wardrobe supplies.com) Not only were things not expensive (relatively) but all of a sudden, I could actually repair a moccasin sole myself, I could dye an item....any color of the rainbow, I found the replacement laces for those 1930s workbooks that were an "odd length" I could never find. I guess since I like up cycling, and restoring garments, nurturing vintage/antique things back to life- I just died and went to heaven. Hope others enjoy the link.


Another thing to note, is that this thread, has an awesome ability, (partially due to it initially being created for furriers) It has a slight stretch and give to it. This is amazing if you are trying to repair a leather jacket, or a fur item, or anything where the fabric/skin has torn, and there is a "space" that would create the need for patching otherwise. I have been able to repair old leather jackets, and my grandmother's fur stole (I don't wear it, but just for family history preservation) where I had been told by a professional seamstress, that without a fur or leather "patch" to insert where some skin/fur had disintegrated/rotted-I could not fix it. Not with this thread. Somehow the "give" in the thread, and its strength, made me able to successfully merge the pelts, and the strength of the thread, along with the natural "give" that skin/fur have (and other highly woven fabrics too-like military canvas, or canvas duck) it worked.


I could share pics and other stuff of my clothing universe since that is how I still earn my living while I work on my homestead, but I just want to encourage all the menders to order this $6.75 thread (it will last you 4 years) and this small pack of leather needles. !

trust me!
 
Larisa Walk
Posts: 157
Location: South of Winona, Minnesota
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Even when I was buying used clothing I've always been picky in my selections. As a seamstress, I can't stand the poorly made stuff being sold. Some of the better brands had better quality, like Eddie Bauer and Lands End. Natural fibers were/are always an absolute must. One of my tricks was to shop the extra large sizes of dresses. There is a lot of fabric there and they are usually not worn badly (maybe large people change dress sizes more often or are less active?). Sometimes I would recut the dress into a smaller size or make something else entirely with it.

I first noticed the nose-dive in quality back in the 1970's when I was working as a self-employed seamstress. A couple of my regular clients were the local dry cleaners (I did mending for them before they cleaned the clothes) and a women's clothing store. Got to see lots of stuff I would never buy. Besides the usual hemming and alterations, the clothing store often had me repairing items they had received before they could be hung on the rack. They came in with seams coming apart, straps already loose, buttons loose, hems crooked, etc.

As for the vinegar and soda tricks, I used to do about 3 washes without anything added to get the soap residues out of the clothes initially. I was always amazed at how sudsy the water would be - what a waste of soap! Then I would do vinegar or soda and a couple of more weeks outside, But the new products being sold as "longer lasting" have some nasty chemical concoction that doesn't seems to wash out at all. The regular detergents and dryer sheets fragrance chemicals already include cancer-causing substances. I wonder what is in the new toxic brew? I think all the synthetic fragrances should be banned!!!

The fabric finishes on new goods keeps me out of the shops too. Either a trip to the Salvation Army or the fabric store will leave me feeling disoriented and spacey. If I am to do any sewing at all it will be with organic fabric, probably purchased on line, although I do like to be able to feel the "hand" of a fabric before buying. Things have changed much in the nearly 50 years I've been sewing. When I was a kid my mom made almost all of my clothes until I started doing my own in about 6th grade. I even had a few dresses made from feed bags (the printed cotton sacks that could be recycled into most anything) and winter pants made from my dad's old wool suits. When we did buy new fabric it cost much less than buying clothes off the rack. My mom would never have considered buying used clothes back in the day - it just wouldn't have been proper to wear strange people's hand-me-downs. But people of limited means will find that sewing your own isn't the thrifty option it once was. Now that sewing has become more of a trendy craft instead of basic necessity, it costs much more to sew it yourself than to buy new ready-made, and loads more than buying used. I have a stash of mill ends of Maggies Organics cotton knit fabric back from when they used to ship their products from a warehouse here and where I had friends working. I've been using it to make underwear over the years, but I have to buy the elastic. This costs more than buying Fruit of the Loom, but at least the fabric is organic.
 
Deb Rebel
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Jen and Larisa, I used to make 'period replica clothing' (as authentic as you wanted to pay for, including your fitted muslin) with the documentation. When I finished you had 'clothing' not a 'costume'. I also did summer stock, the wardrobe lady.

Most of that is useful, but. I agree with fabrics aren't what they used to be, and construction of garments either. I do reach for the gloving needle when needed and yes I have some of that thread. I also have heavy duty leather working tools and have cured hides and tanned. (mess that is-see 'period replica clothing') I also learned to work horn, bone, real sinew, and do quill work. I have a Sailor's Palm, a reinforced sort of glove, that is useful for playing with awls and glover needles and I'm not afraid to grab pliers to hold where I'm pulling through and the needle itself (two pairs of pliers). I can repair our shoes only if they are made of decent leather and there's something left to repair. (my spouse has large feet and sometimes this is necessary. He still hasn't taken to hard soled moccasins and I so wish he WOULD as I could then keep him shod).

In general nowdays I just recycle what I can find, and repair or rework what I need when I need it. I try to buy only natural fibers as they wear better, feel better, and will last. My problem with finding vintage here, is usually it is in poor shape and won't hold up because of the hard life it had before I got ahold of it. I have taken some old garments apart though to make patterns as the style is often simple and 'timeless', saving me lots of time in drafting my own from scratch. FOLKWEAR PATTERNS, are wonderful. Often simple styles and they are usually easy to sew and worth a LOT if you're not good at making your own patterns!

Quilting and applique are my salvation if I want to bring my repairs into 'general public' or better appearance. I can recycle bits and pieces and make them into 'fashion' as well. The mend I posted is because I acquired eighteen pair of used jeans that would fit spouse but are in various states of fabric durability, and I also have to patch knees and that with those to keep them going. He gets into some really rough and filthy work, so putting the time into patching-repatching-repairing those is worth it. That style of patch, I can sew another one into the same area and it won't show if I add another layer in the back. Some of those jeans have three layers. Someday I will afford a new tractor seat for that one, our workhorse Kubota, that keeps eating the left near the pocket heinie spot.

Because of my recent change in size (22W to 10) and it changing seasons from yeuk cold to fryer hot (we have very little other) I am going through the entire wardrobe, 'stuff for later', 'donors' and 'rags' and redoing. And catching needed mending at the same time. I am on grid so I have the ability to after dark work for some hours every day in mostly relaxing quality time with sewing machines, with needle and thread, and my cutting boards, rulers, and scissors; to redo what I need. Daylight is reserved for outside chores (building and maintaining our gardening stuff, house repair, etc) cooking, and keeping up with errands. After is lighter duty sitdown work, and to me sewing can be a pleasure even if it is just toiling through the mending. Laundry is whenever... and I need to string a new 100' of clothesline this spring (soon) as the old one is now in the way and sagged out too far (warm season, we have average sustained wind of 25mph, single digit humidity or very close, and peeled sun at 90-95f. Peg the line and go to the start and take down dry clothes, the washer can't keep up-ultra efficient solar dryer). Neverending any of it. I agree, I try to buy second hand clothes "big", even though I don't need it to be, so I can get away from worn seams and get ahold of extra fabric for restyling, repair, and mending. One thing I will say, try to get away from zippers that can break (I have parts and I have fixed some) if you can and go to plackets and buttons! Buttons are easier to replace than a zipper!
 
Jen Gira
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At least in my work, we had seamstress on staff. designing and doing the concept took up too much time to be at a machine- however, through the years, I became very quick with a needle and thread for quick fixes. "costume design" is something that is a term, same with head of wardrobe etc. I worked a lot with all the period HBO series, and most every day items would have to be made-the heavily worn things. Even the best headstock items these days, can only take so much. I am not one for any kind of reproductions-only in the case of it being necessary. At least for film and things like that. As I really started to look into fabric resources, for companies, and I saw, their spreadsheets, the fractions of thinner ply, over the years. I was shocked. It got to the point where a .20 margin on a piece of cotton, when you blow it up huge corporate size, is a massive amount. It was incredibly frustrating for me when working with manufacturers.

Glad you have my favorite thread. It is a lifesaver. Even last week when I managed to "save" my dog's favorite toy. (that she tore apart) she was beside herself, and I was able to bring "cow man" back to life.

With most things, I tend to factor in what the time it takes to repair something, and the time it will take me to do it, and the cost- I can get very attached to things, but at times, I am able to restrain myself, (or my husband, who is much more practical) into just letting things go to the rag pile or the goodwill.

folkwear patterns! you made me smile, reminds me of high school I am pretty sure that I had a friend make me a dress that was very "Lady Macbeth" from one of those. (I wonder where that is?)

I am definitely going to try your Vinegar rinse Larisa! I am always looking for new potions.

Deb. It sounds like you have quite the arsenal of supplies. I I like the idea of appliqué over the mend. I also like the idea of using clothing scraps for plant related items. Actually, after reading your post, I went to the trash, and fished out these curtains that aforementioned dog shredded (very naughty) a couple days ago, and I just realized- I've got a bunch of great plant ties! I think I was seeing such red after my pooch's mini meltdown, I didn't see the possibilities.
 
Jen Gira
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Karen Layne wrote:Larisa Walk wrote: " I still have reactions to diesel now and also the perfumes, plus formaldehyde in building products, etc."


I used to work in the garment manufacturing industry. I had to ask once, "What is the nasty smell that's created when the material is ironed?". I was told that it was the formaldehyde used to preserve the material.
I've also noticed that I cannot stay in a (new) clothing store for very long before my eyes turn red and start to burn. Used clothing stores don't affect me. I glad for that since the GW is my favorite store.



I find so many chemicals used in clothing manufacture (and don't get me started on dry cleaning (conventional) so disgusting! I think, at least with this stuff, if anyone actually knew, even the most out of touch consumer would probably not want to have Formaldehyde on their skin. save it for the funeral home! egads
 
Deb Rebel
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Jen, thats' why a lot of my sewing and repairs are done in 'zero time' or as relaxation/hobby. Glad you could see the possible in the curtains. I'm a queen of 'zero time' projects, or reclaiming my time in waiting rooms and the like. Right now I'm in it's dark so I can play with sewing machine, read stuff on net, listen to tunes and stuff like that. I have four teeshirts I have to decide if they're going to sweatpant pockets or going to be worn....
 
Jen Gira
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Deb Rebel wrote:Jen, thats' why a lot of my sewing and repairs are done in 'zero time' or as relaxation/hobby. Glad you could see the possible in the curtains. I'm a queen of 'zero time' projects, or reclaiming my time in waiting rooms and the like. Right now I'm in it's dark so I can play with sewing machine, read stuff on net, listen to tunes and stuff like that. I have four teeshirts I have to decide if they're going to sweatpant pockets or going to be worn....


That's a great way to think. I have to remember to take some little projects like that the next time I am stuck in the Dentist office or another ridiculous waiting room.
 
Dan Boone
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My mother was a child of the Great Depression, grew up in the home of a man who ran a second-hand shop, and was going for a home economics major in college before she got married. She could -- and often did -- sew up new clothes out of whole cloth. And then when my folks pulled their "back to the land" trick, she mended everything until there was nothing left to mend. When Dolly Parton's song "Coat of Many Colors" finally reached us in our sub-arctic fastness, she threatened to make me a coat just like it, and it wasn't an idle threat:



She was pretty forceful about teaching sewing skills to my sisters, but she was content with me as long as I could darn my own woolly winter socks. Fast forward to now and I am pretty miserable with a needle, but I am too cheap/tight/broke to give up on my Key coveralls (close to fifty bucks a pair in my size) due to minor damage. I can and do sew up minor rips and tears, and as the coveralls age, the soft fabric of the inside of the pockets tends to shred and need stitching back together. I've also had the straps wear out near the metal hardware and need sewing back on after cutting away the worn spot. Nothing fancy and the "stitches" are more like lumpy knots, but it works.
 
Deb Rebel
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I think all kids should be taught basics of weeding, washing dishes, cooking, sewing, and auto maintenance. No matter what sex. As I've explained to my spouse and many others, a sewing machine is just a power tool with thread. (I usually pick a small drill or laminate router to compare it to). Dan, kudos that at least you do. You might replace your pockets with something a bit sturdier, is all. Use an old one to lay on paper and trace, be accurate, then go around and add 1/2" all the way around it, cut two, sandwich together and sew the curvy part and sew to the inside of the pocket opening. I often use old pillowcase material or an old still sound teeshirt as coveralls/overalls or sweatpants pocket replacement. A fence staple pocket in an old coat, use denim, a few layers.
 
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Even in Permaculture, or maybe particularly, there is a value to looking at the efficiency of what ones does. I make and repair all kinds of things, but at some point there are diminishing returns. I grew up with people who can really sew, and really mend. But one thing that has changed is the quality of materials. It used to be that a hole in a knee was just a hole, the rest of the garment was fine, so a patch or a darn was worth doing. But these days when the hole appears, and is repaired, the garment often falls apart everywhere other than the patch soon after. You can't buy your clothes at Walmart, and then pretend that they should be treated and repaired the same way as say jeans made on a 36" loom. I prefer to order the better material and make the better clothes and deal with that than waste time replacing junk clothes that I may need to get covered in dust or chainsaw oil.
 
Dan Boone
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Deb Rebel wrote:Dan, kudos that at least you do. You might replace your pockets with something a bit sturdier, is all. Use an old one to lay on paper and trace, be accurate, then go around and add 1/2" all the way around it, cut two, sandwich together and sew the curvy part and sew to the inside of the pocket opening.


I know what you're talking about because I've seen it done, but it's probably beyond my skill. I did run a few seams with a sewing machine when I was a kid, but there's a real art to holding and moving the fabric without it bunching up. A few dozen hand stitches is more my speed. So far even the worn material in my pockets has held together well enough just by me pulling the two edges of the tear together and stitching them up like they were a wound. My mother spins a few RPM faster in her grave every time I do it, but oh well...

I do find that the arc of my life is trending toward spending time instead of money to solve my problems, so at some point, it will probably be worth setting up one of the four sewing machines (!) on this property in a private place and teaching myself to use it. But I'm not that desperate yet.
 
Deb Rebel
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A little patience, and you can learn how to thread the machine properly, do the bobbin, adjust the tension and guide fabric through it. Some of the nicer fabric shops also maintain and sell sewing machines and have people there that can show you how to do all that. Or look up a local quilt club or group. I belong to one here, and though we don't often see a fellow interested in our classes or sew-ins (bring a sewing machine and work on your own project with the rest) they would be welcome. That might be a good place to start, with friendly knowledgeable people. (Our club often helps the Girl Scouts, FFA and 4H clubs in the area, and teach them to sew, just for showing up, aka free. I often bring a sewing machine or two for them to use). I started with hand sewing when I was four, and have done a few complete garments by hand. That is not the norm anymore, sewing machines to construct garments is the easier way to go. Some modifications and repairs, I also choose to use a sewing machine, but some things are better done by hand. Bravo, and keep sewing, Dan.
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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Jen Gira wrote:

... check the labels even at your thrift store. Why I am saying this, is that usually, items that are from even the early 70s and prior, will be made of higher quality fabrics, better stitching, stronger or reinforced seams, and -and this is the important one- Most clothing prior to 1970 had as a standard, about 1.5 inches of seam allowance between each seam. ... I advise against, buying "thrift" that is less than 15-20 years old. This is because, during this time, production in every sense (from the fabric mill, pattern making, to garment construction) was pressed to the outer limits of wearability. ...
...

What you say about clothing from before 1970 is true Jen, but - I don't know how it's in the USA or other countries- here in the second hand stores clothes are not that old They sort out the clothes and if it's 'old-fashioned', they send it to projects for 'third world countries' or for 'helping refugees'. So they sell the 'bad' clothes, because they are newer, more 'trendy', and the good quality clothes are sent away!
Once I saw them sort out some very interesting old-fashioned underwear made of wool (Jaeger)! I said I wanted to buy it, but they said 'no, we don't sell it, it's for a project in Eastern Europe'. OK, that's nice for the people in Eastern Europe, but still I don't get it
 
r ranson
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I've been experimenting with Japanese boro patchwork lately. Then today, I found some sashiko stitching examples at a yard sale.





Boro is a kind of patchwork clothing made from scraps of cloth layered and patched together. Sashikois the decorative stitching used to sew it all together. These two techniques go hand in hand. The stitching adds a lot of strength to the fabric. It can be simple series of dashes or complicated designs. One does not hide sashiko stitching, one leaves it exposed to celebrate the patchwork.

how to use boro to repair knee rips



a tutorial on how to stitch decorative patches (above photo borrowed from this site)

This was very common in the couple of hundred years leading up to the second world war but fell out of fashion with the introduction of western culture to the Japanese way of life after the war. It went the way of shoddy (which originally meant recycled cloth - not means inferior). But boro is coming back into fashion. I love it. I've been patching up my old farm clothes and even some of my city clothes with it.

One of the things I noticed with this is that it's important to get the colour and cloth matching. So jeans repairing jeans, or other indigo dye colours for jeans look good, but linen and wool don't go well together. Just about any natural dye cloth goes with any other, but the synthetic dies are a bit tricky to match up.

Short history of Japanese clothing has some lovely images. I'm especially fond of this stitching pattern.

 
r ranson
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The cuff on my favourite linen shirt separated from the sleeve. I didn't know how to make an invisible mend, so I tried my hand at a bit of boro mending.



This is the inside of the cuff. I had intended to do a zig zag stairs like pattern, but I suck and it turned into boxes instead.

The outside isn't the tidiest of mends, but it looks fine if you don't get too close.


 
r ranson
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Another sashiko repair done on jeans. I think this method of mending is perfect for jeans. It looks good, it adds tremendous strength, and you can just keep on patching as the jeans age.

 
Deb Rebel
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Some jeans I'm harvesting for denim for mending and projects. They do not fit and will not fit anyone in my house and have too many holes in the wrong place. They were part of a large trash bag I harvested from being sent to the landfill (dumpster dive) and washed up. I am not ashamed to recycle creatively. They look almost like Sashiko except apparently they were made this way not repaired.

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Sarah Bedwell
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What you say about clothing from before 1970 is true Jen, but - I don't know how it's in the USA or other countries- here in the second hand stores clothes are not that old They sort out the clothes and if it's 'old-fashioned', they send it to projects for 'third world countries' or for 'helping refugees'. So they sell the 'bad' clothes, because they are newer, more 'trendy', and the good quality clothes are sent away!
Once I saw them sort out some very interesting old-fashioned underwear made of wool (Jaeger)! I said I wanted to buy it, but they said 'no, we don't sell it, it's for a project in Eastern Europe'. OK, that's nice for the people in Eastern Europe, but still I don't get it


Inge - you solved a mystery for me today..I have be searching through charity shops here in the UK looking for some quality fabrics and old clothing but there is nothing to be found. I had no idea all the good stuff was going overseas. No wool jumpers/sweaters or even any natural fabrics. Just the cheap throw-away fashion of recent years. What a shame we are missing out. I'm going to change tack and see if I have more luck in car boot sales or local jumble sales or yard/garage sales. Oh well, another good reason to get more resourceful Sarah B
 
I child proofed my house but they still get in. Distract them with this tiny ad:
2017 Rocket Mass Heater Workshop Jamboree - 15 workshops in one event
https://permies.com/wiki/63312/permaculture-projects/Rocket-Mass-Heater-Workshop-Jamboree
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