April 20, 2014

What To Do When Clothing Has Gone Wrong or Needs Mending

I'm a child of the 50's and 60's, so all my life I heard the adage Use it Up, Wear it Out, Make it do, or Do Without! I heard it; it doesn't mean that I heard it all the time from family... It's just something I heard. Things were somewhat tight growing up, so we went to Good Will now and again, I learned to sew in Junior High ( I mean really sew, Barbie Clothes don't really count cause I mostly tied them together with sashes to keep them on Barbie). So, my grandma's sewed for me, mom sewed for me... once; when I had an accident with a knife blade... requiring 90 stitches, mom told me that if I didn't cry she would make me a Barbie outfit! I yelled a little but I didn't cry. Which is a big thing for me cause, well as my family and friends know, if you even say the work cry to me; the tear ducts decide it 's time to do their thing! Lol.  O.K., back to what I was getting too. My mom is a really creative person, she once took a class in metal work; and made a clock out of tin cans that she cut.... it was amazing! Hmmm, wonder if she has any pictures of it because she no longer has it. I digress again.... sorry. So I basically learned that if you had an article of clothing you were not happy with; you fix it so you are. Change buttons, shorten, fix sleeves etc. Make it do.
Remember how our folks would say, Hang Up Your Clothes, Money Doesn't Grow On Trees ( which to me is funny cause we all know that money is made of paper and where does paper come from.... ahhhh Trees!). They said it because they wanted your clothes to last. One way to help make your clothes last; is to take care of them.
 Wash them in a manner that will preserve them, it you are using hot water on a 100% cotton item.... let me tell you right here; IT'S GONNA SHRINK!   So, if a label or your common sense tells you something is delicate; treat it as such. Delicate items need to either be hand washed and left on a towel to dry (flat), or washed on delicate in the washer with cool water and then dried flat. Drying can be really hard on clothes. Have you ever noticed that when you go to empty the lint trap on the dryer how much lint there is? Well... it's gotta come from somewhere, and that somewhere is from your clothes. Bit by bit the fibers loosen and some of that fluff or the thickness of the cloth the more it is dried in a dryer. So, if you want to help them last a bit longer, don't over-dry your items.  If you have an item that gets a stain do something about it as soon as you can. The sooner the better. If you wait a long time before you try to get rid of a stain; well, sometimes it just makes it worse.  Case in point. A friend called the other day; her daughter is getting married in a couple of weeks. Apparently my friend has recently started taking in Foster Children. The foster child that they have in their home has some problems from what I understand. Now your probably asking what has this got to do with her daughters wedding... I'm getting to that. Apparently said foster child was upset and urinated on the wedding dress; which was in a cloth bag and they didn't know it until they brought the dress out to have a look at it this past week. My friends daughter was very, very upset but my friend is a sweet and lovely person and calmed her down. Back to the phone call; it went like this; Jean, how do you get urine stain out of a wedding dress? I asked her what the fabric was and she told me it was a  cream colored polyester.  One thing we know is you can not use regular bleach on it. I had her soak the dress in the bath tub cool water and vinegar... cause the smell was far from pleasant from what I understand. She soaked it and then rinsed and then soaked it some more. The stain and the smell is now gone. Hopefully in not so many months and it will just be one of those things that people laugh about. I'm thinking it's still a bit early for that right now.
Most clothes that have buttons on them usually come with at least 1 replacement button. Put it in a place that you won't loose it. Sewing it to the clothing item is a great idea or if you are not so inclined to do that, at least put it some place you can find it. I have an old quart and 1/2 canning jar that I keep my loose buttons in. Some of them are real prizes. I have a few metal buttons from off of a coat I had when I was a kid. Lots of memories in that jar. So, now that you know where the extra buttons are what do you do when you loose a button from say; off your favorite blouse? Do you throw it into the mending pile? You know the one; the one that is in the bottom of your closet that sees the light of day maybe once every two years when your out of all your favorite things. Yeah, I know how that is. I have 4 kids; it's hard to remember to get those things mended when you are trying to keep up mending for 6 people. There were a few times when my kids would grow out of things b/4 I got to it! It's alright as long as they fit the next child down.... but if it's going from a boy to a girl, Hmmmm Not So Much! So, it's good if you pick one day a month to do nothing but mend!  If you don't have mending to do... GREAT! Do something else. Anyway, put buttons back on as quickly as you loose them, that way the item of clothing won't be outta style when you are done putting the button back on.
Mending clothes can be a challenge. They very seldom tear on a seam or somewhere it's not going to show. Sometimes you need to be creative.... (remember that word, because you will need it to keep yourself from getting upset with someone who has just stepped on your maxi dress and torn a hole in it). Mind you sometimes they do tear on a seam or someplace where all you have to do is unpick a seam allowance and then add a touch more to cover up the tear. I have found more than once that  "Wonder Under" is the best investment in the world when it comes to fixing tears  or disguising small holes.  Say you have a hole the size of a penny, you cut a piece of Wonder Under out maybe double the size of the hole; also cut a piece of fabric out that is similar size to the Wonder Under. Now this part is important because you don't want the glue part of the Wonder Under to show through the hole.  Cut away the center of the Wonder Under the same size as the hole but leave the paper backing still on it. Following the instructions for the product iron it onto the front of the piece of fabric. Let it cool, remove the backing paper and place to cover hole. Once again following the product instructions iron the piece of Wonder Under to your clothing item. Done and Done!!! It should hold up just fine for usual wear and tear (yeah I know that is one of those words we really don't want to read right now... but you understand what I mean). Granted if you are mending a wedding dress... there are better way than this for this type of hole, mending. Like I said, sometimes you need to be CREATIVE.  If you can't find a piece of fabric that matches the clothing item perfectly.... use that creativity. I have removed extra fabric from seam allowances to use for this sort of mending. We know it's going to match because as many times as this item has been washed.... the rest of the item has been too. So, they will be the same shade no matter what.
For the mending I did for my SIL I used some creativeness, he was missing button on a sport coat, down the front he had 2 broken buttons and only 1 that was not broken of the larger size. I needed 3 altogether. His coat had a couple of replacement buttons; only 1 large and 2 small (for the sleeves). I found 2 buttons that would "pass" as a match to go on the front, but the sleeve buttons just would not match with the newer buttons I found in my button jar. So, that meant I had to find enough buttons in the jar to look alright with the others. Digging I found enough buttons to go on the sleeves from an old shirt (I always cut off old buttons; you never really know when they may come in handy) and sewed them on. He was tickled as could be that I was able to fix it so he could wear it again. I also replaced a couple of buttons on another jacket that happened to have the extra buttons sewn into one of the pockets. So, check; you never know where the manufacturer will be putting them.
My DH has a problem with a brand of blue jeans we buy him; the way they are sewn the extra fabric creates a small hole near the bottom of zipper. What I do to fix this (because I have done it often) I find an old small piece of denim (I save old jeans to make quilts with, so I have plenty to match up a hole with.) I find thread that is a near match to the fabric and after either using Wonder Under or using a spray adhesive (that I use for quilting) I adhere the patch piece to the under side of the jeans and let it set for a few minutes.  I put my sewing machine on a straight stitch somewhat of a longer stitch; then I go back and forth in the same direction as the grain of the jeans until I have filled that hole area and the area around the edges and low and behold it blends right in. There have been a few times when I've done this and put them on the bed for my DH to put away....(because I've trained him to put away his own clothes after I wash/dry and iron things for him) and he hasn't even noticed it was the same pair!
I like a good Challenge; and if I have time it works a whole lot better (less stress that way), but that isn't always the case. I have replaced bodices that someone has managed to stain.... by simply turning
the fabric inside out and re-hemming. You know the fabric color will match and a lot of times although the fabric has a good (outside) and bad (inside) they may not be noticeably different. If all else fails, you can always try for a color match and a re-do. Really though, I don't do that sort of thing unless it's for something extra special, due to the fact that it may cost more than it's worth.
Years ago I was cleaning out my MIL's sewing room. They were in the process of moving into a smaller home. We came across some pamphlets that had to do with re-making clothing from other clothing. It was an old  Extension Service pamphlet. It was from around the late 40's early 50's and had some interesting pictures of how they used these older clothes to make things for children. It was only recently that I passed it onto one of my neighbors. I think that the old adage I mentioned above, needs to have or Pass It On added to it. Cause sometimes we just need to pass it onto someone else that can get use outta what we can no longer use.
You may want to check in your area to see if there is a clothing swap available. When your kids or you for that matter have clothing of good shape that no one in your family or acquaintance can use  it's stands to reason that someone somewhere may be able to use them. Or vice versa... maybe someone has something you could use. Lets try to keep these items out of the land fill. I spent the better part of a hour or so yesterday cutting up some old shirts of my hubbies and mine so that I can use the material for quilts. Still good material, some of it at least. But not good enough for the shirt to be passed onto someone else. Too many weak parts in the shirts.
Well, that should be enough for this post. I hope that you have learned something in this post that you can use. Questions.... ask away! Like I said, I love a good challenge! Have a Wonderful Easter!

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