Usually I’m quick to pass the job of altering garments to my seamstress at the local dry cleaners, and if you’re on the fence about buying something on sale or while thrifting that can easily be taken in or let out to fit you proper, this is a great solution. But what if you got proactive about the whole situation? There’s no reason to get frivolous with cash when you have two awesome tools like your own hands to get the job done.
If I took some kind of census on a street corner, I’m sure I would find a fair amount of folks who claim they can’t even sew on a button and frankly, that’s total B.S. Buttons can be kind of daunting at first glance but it’s threading a needle and sticking it through four (sometimes only two) holes.
When sewing buttons on or re-securing them because the thread is getting loose, I find it easiest to thread the needle and pull it through long enough so that you can tie the two ends of the thread together and get to sewing. You should only have to criss-cross the thread three to four times in order for it to be nice and tight. A good trick is to also not pull the thread so far through that the knot is immediately touching the fabric on the first pass; instead, criss-cross the thread once, then pull the thread taught. This will help you to avoid pulling the knot through as soon as you get started which is frustrating and easy to do when mending thinner material like found on your average button-up shirt.
I love to change up the buttons on a plain old cardigan that I might have bought at Old Navy or Banana Republic to some much better looking ones from my vintage collection. Don’t have a jar of buttons lying around that you scored from your Grandma like me? No big deal. Antique shops often have bags of them for sale at a good price and trust, they are really fun accents to have around. Boring knit cap? Sew a rad button onto it and it will have a brand new look.
It’s also wise to have a few varieties of thread on hand if you’re going to take up mending on the regular but grab a spool of gold or bright blue to throw into your mix, it’ll look so great if you’re trying out this newfangled detailing idea and will add pop and flavor to any tired old garment you have.
Is mending honestly that hard? No. But I do recommend that you get a really great book or take a simple class on alterations before you try blindly and mess up a bunch of your clothes. Jo Ann Fabrics is always offering a new beginner’s course, but if group work is really not your thing, I love Subversive Seamster, which will take you on a step-by step-journey into blissful renegade re-vamping.
Taking a hem up is so simple that once you’ve done it once, you might get ambitious and start making awesome curtains out of old sheets from the ’70s that you found at your local Goodwill. I might be getting carried away right now, but the once the magical box of fixing up your own goods is opened it just keeps on pouring out ideas. You can even get yourself one of those cute little tomatoes to stick all of your pins in. Practical and adorable!
If you decide to get intense and dedicate yourself entirely, go ahead and get a sewing machine, it will certainly make hemming and taking things in a whole lot more efficient and effortless, but really, hand sewing will get you pretty far with patience.
Are you inspired?