Easy Clothing Repairs Adapted by Judy Hetterman, Owen County Extension Agent for Family & Consumer Science

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1 Easy Clothing Repairs Adapted by Judy Hetterman, Owen County Extension Agent for Family & Consumer Science To Repair or Not to Repair Clothing repair is a simple job that takes little time. Yet many people will let a garment hang in the closet or will throw it away rather than take a few minutes to replace a button or sew a rip. No matter what your sewing skills are, you ll find that making minor repairs on newly purchased items or old favorites is an easy way to stretch your clothing dollar. Catch those small rips and holes before they get larger and require more time and skill to fix. The reward of mending a favorite skirt or repairing a child s outfit for another season of wear is more than a financial savings. You will feel a great deal of personal satisfaction from making a repair that is so inconspicuous no one will notice it, or from making a patch that is so creative it enhances the look of the garment. Mending includes all types of repairs to damaged garments. Threads weaken, seams split and elastic stretches to its limit in well-worn garments that may still have years of use except for these minor signs of wear. Elbows and knees of shirts and pants may wear thin from normal use. Poor fit may cause a seam to split or a zipper to break. Faulty manufacturing may result in a raveled hem, lost button or broken topstitching. An accidental fall or a snag on a sharp point can turn a brand new garment into an item that needs repair before it can be worn again. Some repairs can be avoided with preventive mending. Reinforce or strengthen areas that receive stress and hard wear before the damage occurs, or before the weak areas wear through completely. The smaller the repair, the less time it will take to mend. It s easier to iron a patch on the back of thinly worn pants knees than to wait until the threads tear and the fabric has to be repaired. New sewing notions make mending and preventive mending simpler and less time-consuming than ever before. Many of these items are iron-on or fusible, or require only basic sewing skills. Make mending fun by using a little imagination. For example, patches are not the only way to repair a tear or hole. A strategically placed pocket, row of trim, appliqué (purchased or designed yourself), decorative button or non-functional zipper may be just the thing to creatively conceal a torn area or reinforce a worn spot. Before beginning a project, take into account costs in time and money for repairing a garment versus buying a replacement. Once you decide to do the repair, consider the repair alternatives and the time and skills required for each. As in any craft, there are special tools and equipment that are essential to professional results. Finally, remember that besides the right tools, a positive attitude and comfortable work area with good lighting contribute as much as sewing ability to the success of a repair. When deciding whether or not to mend, consider the following questions. You may want to chart the answers under Mend It or Not Worth it. - Is the damaged area small or large? - How difficult is the repair? - How much wear is left in the garment? - How long will it take to mend the damaged area? - How much time is available for mending?

2 - Will it take more time to shop for a replacement garment than it will to mend the damaged area? - Can you afford to replace the garment? - Can the garment style still be purchased? - Is the garment part of an outfit? - Does the garment have sentimental value? If the decision has been made to mend the garment, then you need to mend a weak or damaged area as soon as possible to prevent it from becoming worse. The smaller the damage is, the less time it takes to mend, the easier it is to mend, and the more inconspicuous the results will be. Remember, A stitch in time saves nine. Mending is the process of repairing or replacing a damaged area in a garment. Mending may not be inconspicuous but, if it is well done, it will be less obvious than the damaged area was and the garment will last longer. Preventive mending is the process of reinforcing or strengthening areas that receive hard wear or strain-before they are damaged. Basic Repair Kit Whether off at college or setting up your first home or apartment, you may not have a sewing machine, so most of your mending will probably be done by hand. You can organize a few basic sewing tools in a small sewing basket, decorative tin or fishing tackle box. Hand needles For general sewing, use sharps, medium-length needles with small round eyes and sharp points. Keep a package of assorted sizes (3/9) on hand. Use crewel embroidery needles with large eyes for easy threading. Pins Size 17 stainless steel dressmaker pins will not rust and are an all-purpose size. Pins with plastic heads are comfortable on fingers and easy to see in bulky fabric or when dropped on the floor. Throw away pins that become dull with use because they can damage or snag fabric. Keep pins in a handy pin cushion. Safety pins Although safety pins should not be used for permanent repairs, they are critical for emergency mending. Keep an assortment of sizes in your mending kit. Thread Five basic colors of thread will cover most mending needs. Choose an allpurpose dark thread (black, brown, or navy) that matches your basic wardrobe color. Add spools of white, red and a medium shade of gray or tan. Complete the assortment with transparent monofilament thread which can be used with any color of fabric. Thimble Wear a thimble on your middle finger while hand sewing. Thimbles are available in sizes 6 (small) to 12 (large) and should fit snugly. Needle Threader This flexible wire loop slips through the eye of a needle to ease threading of hand and machine needles. It is also a handy tool for pulling knit snags to the wrong side. Seam ripper This tool makes it easy to cut seams open, rip hems and remove stitching. Use the pointed end for removing cut threads. Scissors Good quality 6 (15 cm) scissors with one sharp point are essential for clipping, snipping and trimming. Use these scissors only for sewing so the blades stay sharp. Sewing gauge Use a 6 (15 cm) sewing gauge with a sliding marker for making small measurements, such as hems and button locations. Glue stick Instead of pinning or basting, use a glue stick to provide a temporary bond for hems, trims, appliqués and zippers. Liquid fray preventer This colorless plastic liquid controls fraying and raveling by stiffening yarns along a cut edge of fabrics. Also use it on button holes that become ragged and to control runs in pantyhose. 2

3 Beeswax or white candle stub Before hand sewing, pull thread across one of these waxy substances to reduce knotting and tangling. Extra buttons Keep a small container of buttons in basic styles and colors to replace lost and broken buttons. You may want to store extra buttons that often come with coats, dresses, jackets and blouses in this container so you will not forget where they are. Hooks, eyes and snaps Have on hand assorted sizes in nickel and black finish for light and dark fabrics. Hook and loop (Velcro ) enclosures are also available. Other Special Tools & Notions Tape measure Use a 60 (152 cm) flexible cloth or plastic tape for body and garment measurements. Liquid marking pencil or chalk marker Felt-tip pens for marking the placement of trims, hems and alterations are available in two types. One type leaves a mark that fades and disappears within a few hours; the other rinses off easily with water. Fusible web Fusible web is a nonwoven bonding agent available in strips and sheets. Place it between two layers of fabric, press with an iron to melt the web and bond the layers. Some brands come with a paper backing on one side. Pressure sensitive fusible web This product comes in sheets or strips with a paper backing on one side or both. Apply web to edge of hem by pressing with your fingers. Remove paper backing and finger press hem to garment. Hem can be repositioned. Bond becomes permanent until pressed with a hot iron. Be sure to follow manufactures instructions. Fusible interfacing This is often used to reinforce thin or weak areas. Follow instructions on wrapper. Iron-on patches & appliqués These heavy, adhesive-baked fabrics are available as precut patches, tapes and appliqués. They usually adhere with a lower heat than interfacings and without steam. Before applying, test iron-on products on an inconspicuous area of the garment; they may make the fabric too stiff. Iron-on patches are available in basic colors. Ironon appliqués are an instant way to cover holes and tears in children s clothing. Press cloth Use a lint-free press cloth when adhering fusible interfacings and when pressing on the right side of a garment. Repair Terms & Techniques How to Thread a Needle Diagonally cut a length of thread about 18 inches long. (Breaking the thread leaves fuzzy ends and may damage thread. These do not go through the needle easily.) Grasp the needle between your thumb and forefinger. Brace your other hand against the needle. Moisten behind the needle hole. Push thread through the hole. Baste 1. Hand-baste Using single thread, take evenly spaced ¼ (6mm) straight stitches on stitching line. 2. Pin-baste Place pins at right angles to stitching line so they can be removed easily during sewing. 3. Machine-baste Use longest stitch on machine, usually 4-5mm or 6 to 8 stitches per inch. 3

4 4. Basting tape Place double-faced basting tape on one layer of fabric close to stitching line. Remove paper covering and place second layer of fabric in position. Do not stitch through tape because it leaves a gummy residue on needle. Remove tape after stitching if it is not water soluble. 2. Backstitch Fasten permanent stitching with a short stitch behind starting point. When you do not want a knot to show on right side of fabric, take two small stitches in same position. Double faced basting tape 5. Glue stick This water-soluble adhesive forms a temporary bond. Use it sparingly to position trims, pockets and patches. It may also be used on fabrics such as vinyl, where a pin or needle hole would show. 3. Ending knot Take two small backstitches. Insert needle through second stitch to form loop. Pull thread tight to knot. Glue Stick BASIC TECHNIQUES Securing Thread 1. Knot When using a single strand of thread, twist one end over index finger to form a knot. This knot is easy to remove for the start of hand basting. Method 1 Method 2 Method 1 Reinforcing Method 2 1. Fusing Fusible interfacing or mending fabric provides extra strength to fabric that is wearing thin. 2. Two rows of stitching Use normal stitch length with second row of stitching in seam allowance 1/8-inch (3 mm) from the first. Form knot at end of thread 4

5 3. Stretch stitches These built-in machine stitches usually use a forward/backward motion, putting more thread into a seam to provide give. They are not restricted to stretch and knit fabrics. patches or pressure tape and with some hems. 4. Fabric Stitch ½-inch (1.3 cm) wide twill tape, seam tape, or lightweight fabric strip into a straight or curved seam. 5. Small stitches Use stitch length of 1.5-2mm or 18 to 20 stitches per inch to stitch areas of stress or areas to be clipped. 3. Backstitch This hand stitch is very strong. It is especially useful for repairing split seams. Make small stitches and work from right to left, inserting needle behind previous stitch. Bring needle up same distance in front of stitch. Continue to insert and bring up needle half a stitch length behind and in front of previous stitch. Stitches on underside are twice as long as on right side; stitch looks like machine stitching on right side. Stitches used for Seam Repairs and Hemming By Hand: 1. Catchstitch Worked between the layers of fabric from left to right with the thread crossing. The catchstitch has some give. A small stitch is taken ¼-inch down from the hem edge. Another small stitch is taken in the garment opposite the hem edge. This is a common hemming stitch. By Machine: 1. Normal straight stitch Use stitches per inch (2.5 cm). 2. Zigzag Stitch For most zigzag stitching, use full width. This is usually the highest number on the machine. Stitch length adjustment determines whether the stitch is widely or closely spaced. ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ 2. Whipstitch or Hemming Stitch Use to permanently hold two edges of fabric together. Insert needle at right angle to edge, picking up only a few threads. Sew slanted stitches as close together as necessary. Use this stitch for sewing on 4. Stretch stitches If your machine has stretch stitches, they may be forward/backward straight stitches, a combination of straight and zigzag stitches, or decorative stitching that combines straight and zigzag stitches, such as honeycomb. 5

6 What to do when a button tears away from the fabric Mend the hole. Cut off any loose threads around the hole. Cut a piece of material a little bigger than the hole to use as a patch. Use the same color if you can. Put the patch between the facing and the outer material. Bring the needle up through the material, but not through the button. Take out the matchstick or toothpick. Wrap the thread 4 or 5 times around the threads holding the button. Pull tight. This forms a the thread shank which elevates the button off the fabric surface and secures the button. Sew the edge of the hole to the patch. Sew the Button on with a thread shank. Knot a double thread. Make a small stitch through the material where the button goes. Push needle to the wrong side of material. Take 2 or 3 small stitches under the button. With each stitch pull the needle through the thread loop. Pull the thread tight to make a knot with each stitch. Cut off the extra thread. Bring the needle up through one hole of the button and down the other. Put a match stick or round toothpick between the garment and the button. This keeps you from sewing on the button too tight. Replacing a Shank Button A shank button has a loop under the button instead of holes. Knot a double thread. Make a small stitch through the material where the button goes. With double thread, make 3 or 4 more stitches through the button and material. If the button has 4 holes, take the same number of stitches through the other two holes. Bring the needle through the button shank and the material. 6

7 With double thread, make 3 or 4 more stitches through the button shank and the material. Push the needle to the wrong side of material. Take 2 or 3 small stitches under the button. With each stitch, pull the needle through the thread loop. Pull the thread tight to make a knot with each stitch. Cut off extra thread. If button shank is thick, it is recommended that a thread shank be made under the button shank. How to Apply Snaps and Other Closures Snaps Snaps should be used only where there is little strain on the closure. Attach ball section to overlap and socket section to underlap. Secure thread at snap location. Take three or four straight stitches up through each hole; do not stitch through to right side of garment. Secure thread with tiny stitches in fabric at the last hole. Hook and Loop Fasteners (Velcro ) Sew by hand with a single strand of thread. Whipstitch edges, being careful not to go through to right side of overlap. When stitching underlap, which will not show on right side, stitch through all layers of fabric. 7 Sew Velcro on waistband, using a strip of tape. Stitch the hook side to underlap and the loop side to overlap, stitching on all four sides. The waistband will be adjustable in garments without a zipper, such as a wraparound skirt with a side pocket opening. This type of fastener is a good replacement choice for children s wear and older adults that have difficulty using other types of fasteners. Hooks and Eyes Sew hook on underside of overlap without stitching through to right side. Use a single strand of thread and take four or five stitches through each hole. Stitch two or three stitches across the end, under the hook, to hold it flat. Position eye in place and stitch through holes as for hook. Secure thread on underside. Skirt hooks are heavy-duty hooks and eyes that are used on waistbands as a sturdier closure than ordinary hooks and eyes. These hooks are strong and flat so they will not slide out of the eye. There are some available that clamp on. How to Patch Knees in Pants Sew-On or Iron-On If you are going to sew on a patch Cut off the ragged edges of the hole. Cut a piece of sturdy material about 2-inches longer and wider than the hole. If possible, use the same kind of material as the pants.

8 Fold under all the edges of the patch ½- inch. Press the edges to crease them. To make a nice corner, stop the machine with the needle down at the corner. Lift the presser foot and turn the pant leg. Lower the presser foot and continue sewing to the next corner. Overlap stitches at the end to keep them from coming out. Now you can pin the patch over the hole. Be sure the patch is smooth, flat, and straight on the pant leg. Sew it by Hand Use the backstitch for a secure hand stitched patch. Remember it looks like machine stitching from the top side. Refer to hand stitches on page 5. Sew it on by Machine A machine stitched patch stays on better, but it s hard to do on small pant legs. Be careful when you sew. It s easy to sew the pant leg together by mistake. Start at the bottom of the pant leg and gather it up in your hands to make a nest. The patch will be in the middle of the nest. When you sew, keep pulling the back of the pant leg away from the needle. Be creative, patches can also be different shapes. Use pictures in coloring books for patterns. Start sewing at the upper corner of the patch. Use a medium-length stitch. Stitch around the patch close to the edge. If you are going to iron-on a patch this is easy and fast Use an iron-on mending patch. Follow directions on the package. Cut the patch a little bigger than the hole. Round off the corners. 8

9 Put a folded paper grocery bag or newspaper inside the pant leg so the patch won t stick to the back of the pant leg. Round the corners and fuse interfacing to wrong sides of both seam allowances. Press the pant leg around the hole to get it smooth and warm. Put the patch over the hole with the shiny side down. Make sure the patch is placed straight on the leg. 3. Stitch seam either by machine or by hand using a backstitch. Reinforce with a second row of stitching if necessary. Hold the iron firmly on the patch and press according to the package directions. Lift the iron to move to the next section. Do not slide the iron. Press all edges of the patch. Let it cool. Then, check to see if patch has stuck. If not, press it again and cool. Pull the paper bag out of pant leg. Any paper that sticks will wash off. How to Repair a Tear, Cut or Small Hole Without Sewing 1. Press the torn area to even up threads which may have been pulled off grain. Trim loose threads from edges of the tear. Iron on patches can also be cut into decorative shapes. Avoid pointed corners as these tend to come loose. How to Repair a Torn Seam How to repair a pulled seam (fused method) 1. Remove stitching from pulled area and 1 inch beyond each end of pulled seam. 2. Cut two strips of soft, lightweight fusible interfacing, such as fusible knit, the length of the opening and about 1 inch wide. 2. Place tear, face down, on pressing surface, gently bringing edges together. If there is a hole, cut a small patch of matching fabric from the hem or other concealed area of the garment. Apply paper backed fusible web to fabric patch or cut patch from fusible interfacing or mending fabric. Patch should be 1 inch larger than tear or hole. Round the corners. Place patch, fusible side down, over tear or hole. Touch tip of hot iron to patch to tack in place. 9

10 3. Turn garment right side up to check placement of patch. Make sure cut edges meet. Press to fuse following directions on package. Let cool before handling. How to Make a New Hem Take out the hem Pull out the old hem stitches. Press out the crease from the old hem. Use a steam iron or use a damp clean cloth or paper towel between the hem and the iron. 1 to 1½ inches for pants and flared skirts Make a marker the size you want your hem. Use a ruler or a piece of paper with a notch in the side. Place one end of the marker on the fold of the hem. Trim the hem by cutting to the notch. Be careful to cut only the turned up part of the hem. Move the marker along the hem and continue cutting. Mark the new hem Pin up the hem to see where it looks best. Mark a yardstick or broom handle that isn t far off the floor, Take out the pins. Finish the edge If the fabric ravels, finish the edge. By machine Stitch near the edge. A zigzag stitch works better than a straight stitch. By hand Turn under the edge ¼-inch and press it flat. Have someone mark the hem with pins. Use the guide on the yardstick. Make the new hem Try one of these methods: Hand Hem You can use this for most clothes. Turn it inside out. Fold the hem back so only 1/8-inch of the hem shows past this fold. Turn up the hem Fold up the hem so the marking pins are on the fold, and pin. Try it on to see if the hem is even. Press the hem fold. Do not press over the marking pins. Remove them as you press. Take a small stitch in the hem about 1/8-inch from the edge. If you turned under the hem edge, make this stitch through both layers of fabric. Trim the hem to an even width Decide how wide to make the hem. 2 inches for most straight hems 10

11 Then ½-inch away, pick up 1 or 2 threads from the fold. Don t pull the thread too tight the hem will show less if the stitches are loose. Fusible Web Try this for pants and skirts that are quite straight. You can use fusible web instead of stitching to hold the hem in place. You can buy fusible web in strips or in a large piece. References: Clothing Care & Repair (1985). Singer Sewing Reference Library. By DeCosse Inc Green Oak Drive, Minnetonka, MN. Dedic, B.J. Hems, H.E , Cooperative Extension Service of Kentucky, Dedic, B.J. Quick Clothing Repairs, H.E , Cooperative Extension of Kentucky, Stefanelli, M. The Basics: Simple Hand Sewing, Sew News, February Use a piece of web. Test to see if it holds and looks right on your fabric. Cut the fusible web into strips ¼-inch to ½-inch wide. Put the web inside the hem, just below the top. That keeps the web from sticking to the iron. Follow the instructions that come with the fusible web to press it in place. Revised by: Marjorie M. Baker, M.S. FCS Extension Associate for Textiles and Clothing February 2006 Educational programs of the Kentucky Cooperative Extension serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability, or national origin. 11

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