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4 tips to get started mending holes in your clothes

Bobbie, March 13, 2024

Extending the life of a garment by an extra 9 months reduces its environmental impact by 20-30%. Which is why we're keen to help you to get mending those holey clothes. It's Repair Week, so we spoke to Library of Things super fan and visible mending queen Ali Clifford to get some tips on how to repair your clothes with very little equipment.

Ali writes at incredibusy.com and her Instagram account @incredibusy is peppered with her colourful textile repairs.

"Having worked in ethical fashion for many years, it’s honestly only really over the last couple of years that my thoughts have turned to visible mending. I’ll confess with embarrassment and horror, to having previously thrown holey socks into the bin  - but not any more… "

🧵 1. Mend your holey socks with stuff you've already got lying around the house

Having discovered just how easily (and creatively) you can darn a sock, or a hole in a jumper, no matter how large or small. I’ve embraced repair as a mindful activity, meaning my loved clothes now last longer. Creating practical repairs, reducing waste, and as a talking point when these colourful mends catch the eye of a passer-by.

I’ve developed an Incredibusy salvaged speed loom for quick sock repairs. However, all you really need is a darning mushroom, a rubber band, some yarn and a couple of sewing needles and your holey socks can live to fight another day. 

Top tip - If you don’t have a darning mushroom, you can use anything from a paperback book, to a grapefruit pushed into the toe or heel of your sock to hold the repair in place. Simple and fun.

🧵 2. Sew a straight line with the sewing machine using hardly any equipment

I’ve recently rediscovered my ‘sewing machine love’ after years of hand stitching. On returning this week from a sewing retreat in Wales (where I made an apron following the guidance of Sewing Bee’s Lizzie), my brother-in-law Nigel and I were inspired to repair his torn work trousers with a couple of makeshift knee patches.

Traditionally, to mark out a straight line to follow with the sewing machine foot, and to hold the patch in place, you'd use glass-headed sewing pins, and/ or Tailor’s chalk and a ruler. Top tip - We had neither, so we used iron-on hemming tape to ‘glue’ the patch in place, and strips of masking tape for straight line guides. Genius. 

Every Library of Things has a Sewing Machine that you can rent for as little as £5.50 per day. Even better, save 48% for longer loans at £20 per week. Perfect if you're planning any repairs or alterations.

I’ve left Nigel to have a go at finishing this with sashiko-style hand stitching (once he’s used the sewing machine to hem the new net curtains), I can’t wait to see how these work trousers turn out.

🧵 3. Repair your stuff on the go

On my way to a festival last summer, I patched a hole in a pair of much-loved linen dungarees. Certainly not a classic ‘sashiko’ repair, but a quick but effective way to get me through the weekend, and actually looks great too. 

Top tip - Using a square of contrasting fabric, I edge turned (folded back under) the four edges of this patch, and used a glue stick to temporarily hold the patch in place. While I sewed it into place with a running stitch. I keep a little vintage incredibusy sewing tin in my bag, with needle and thread, for just this sort of emergency. The tin even includes a hand-made needle-threader which I made using FixIts too.

🧵 4. Repair your zip using FixIts

Top tip - When my zip-pull recently broke on a waterproof jacket, I used some FixIts to fashion a new pull, moulding it easily onto a paperclip and now I can pull my zip closed with ease. Such a clever repair material. Head to @fix_its, for more simple and easy repair inspo.

🙌 Grab yourself a discount

To celebrate Repair Week, both Incredibusy and FixIts are offering Library of Things’ followers a special introductory offer of 25% off on their websites. Use code: 25%Libraryofthings2024 until the 31 March 2024.

Thanks so much for your time Ali. If you'd like to share your skills with your neighbours, like Ali has - then let us know here.