Don't throw it out; repair instead

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

repair1“Fast fashion” relies on consumers accepting poor quality clothing as a given, in exchange for lower price-points on the garments they wear. As long as we view our clothing as disposable and easily replaceable, we’ll keep throwing it away and buying more of it. But this mindset is doing irreparable damage to our Planet – not to mention our wallets and our closets.

Does it take more effort to repair your clothes instead of tossing them right away? Of course, but it’s also infinitely more rewarding. Next time you’re tempted to toss a damaged or outdated garment in the trash, try one of these creative fixes instead:


Small tear? Loose button? Wonky zipper? Fix it yourself!

There’s been a huge resurgence in the popularity of sewing in recent years, and for good reason: repairing your own clothes is fun, thrifty, and surprisingly empowering. Whether you take a basic sewing class, enlist a family member to teach you, or turn to the wisdom of YouTube. Sewing and mending is a skill you’ll use for a lifetime.

Hole in your jeans? Add lace!

If closing the hole or adding a subtle denim patch isn’t an option, turn the hole in your jeans into a feminine fashion statement by sewing a small piece of lace underneath. Voila! Your pants are reborn.

Lost a button forever? Replace it with vintage!

It’s incredibly annoying to realize you’ve lost a button (especially if it was of the unique or hard-to-replace variety), but you can always take it as an opportunity to reinvent the whole look of your garment. Track down some interesting vintage buttons at your local thrift store and swap out all the buttons with a mix and match assortment. The resulting look is stylish, quirky, and guaranteed to speed up your lost button mourning process.

Too big, too small, doesn’t fit quite right? Take it to the tailor!

For items that are in otherwise good condition, but destined for the throwaway pile due to fit issues, a trip to the tailor is in order. Raising the hem, taking the waist in or out, adjusting the fit to shape your body, or altering the neckline can make a garment feel brand new. Extensive tailoring can be a bit pricey, but it’s still almost always cheaper than buying a new garment, and you can’t beat the custom fit of a tailored piece.

Stain on your t-shirt? Hide it with ruffles!

So you spilled mustard or coffee down the front of your shirt. It happens to the best of us. But that doesn’t mean your shirt is a lost cause. This ruffled t-shirt DIY is a brilliant way to cover the stain and reinvent your shirt in the process. Pair your new ruffled top with a simple blazer and you’ll look so great you might be glad your klutzy ways forced you to get creative.


Shrunk your sweater? Turn the sleeves into boot socks!

It doesn’t get much easier than this DIY solution: just cut off the sleeves and layer under boots for a cute winter look. Sew on lace or other embellishments for an even more personalized look.

Ripped, stained, stretched, or damaged beyond repair? Repurpose it!

There are an infinite number of ways to reinvent and reuse clothing that seems unsalvageable. Button-up blouses that have seen better days can be reborn as pillow covers into pillow covers. No matter how shredded a pair of jeans are, if you have a pocket, you can make a denim wallet. At the very least, you can always cut fabric up into rags to use for cleaning around the house.

As fun and rewarding as it can be to mend your clothing yourself, the best way to avoid getting stuck in a cycle of constant repairs is to buy high quality clothing that’s built to last. You can only repair or reinvent a flimsy dress so many times before it’s relegated to the rag pile, so keep that in mind when you’re shopping. Higher quality garments might cost you a bit more up front, but they pay off in the long run. Cheap clothing often ends up in landfills. Quality clothing, when cared for and repaired properly, often ends up hanging proudly in the closets of daughters and granddaughters. So, shop accordingly.

This also, by the way, goes for the clothes for the guys and the guys also would no go wrong to know how to sew, including how to sew leather goods. Why throw away an otherwise perfectly good belt just because the sewing has come undone at the buckle end, for instance? Or because the buckle has got damaged. Replace with a thrift shop find and make a new belt. It is not rocket science and not difficult.

The message of “don't throw it out; repair instead” goes for other things too. Don't just toss and buy new. Instead learn how to fix your things and, maybe, also those of others. You could establish a new sideline business doing it and start a trend even of new small repair businesses.

© 2014