There are many benefits to clothing repair. Fixing a hole in your favorite jeans or re-attaching a broken button can extend the life of the piece, which is better for the environment and your wallet. From hemming jean bottoms to fixing zippers, here is a quick look at all of the ways you can repair your own clothes.

contents of a sewing kit displayed on burlap background

Sewing kit

If you are serious about clothing repair, you should have a sewing kit on standby. A good kit includes items like needles and thread, scissors, a tape measure, a seam ripper, spare buttons and sewing pins. You can even put together a traveling sewing kit for whenever you are on the road and face a clothing emergency.

person sewing button on a shirt

Buttons

Repairing a button on your favorite shirt can seem daunting at first, but it is actually a fairly straightforward process. According to The Spruce, there are two basic styles of buttons that are commonly used on shirts. The trick is picking the right type of button and the right size. Fortunately, you can usually reference other buttons on the shirt when selecting the perfect fit. The first type is called flat buttons. These are, well, flat and have exposed threads. These are the most commonly used buttons on shirts. The other type is called a shank button, which hides the thread. These are typically used in heavier pieces of clothing.

ripped denim with patch

Jean repairs

Denim requires a substantial amount of water just to make one pair of jeans, so you should treat all of your jeans with care to keep them in top shape for many years.

Rips

Jeans often develop holes after extended use. Before you toss your favorite pair of pants, you can extend their life by repairing those rips and tears. All it takes is a patch of fabric similar in color to the jeans and some thread. You can use a fusible patch, though you will likely need to sew it in place if you want it to last.

Related: How to sew together ripped jeans

Zippers

Broken zippers are another common issue with jeans. Replacing a zipper is a little tricky, but it can be done. You will need a replacement zipper that matches the old fabric and some thread. Start by removing the old zipper entirely. Then, cut the new zipper to fit, and sew it in place.

Belt loops

Hardy belt loops are a requirement for a good pair of jeans, but they can fail after constant tugging. To repair a belt loop, you will need some denim thread, scrap fabric and a sewing machine. Start by patching the hole where the loop broke off. Once that is done, simply sew the old loop back into place, making sure you use plenty of thread to keep it strong.

measuring tape and thread on top of pants that need hemmed

Mending

Most clothing mends you will need to make are either for the seams or hems of your favorite clothes.

Seam mending

Seams are the most integral part of a piece of clothing. Seams can be curved or straight, or they can run into each other at intersections. The issue with seams is that they frequently rip, especially in areas you do not want exposed. Luckily, you can easily repair seams with some thread or by using fusible fabrics. Fusible alternatives remove the sewing element and are a great option for those less experienced in mending. There are a variety of fusible options on the market, so make sure you shop around for the right type before you start a project.

Hem mending

There are many reasons why people choose to hem clothing. The most common hem is done on jeans and helps prevent the bottoms from dragging on the ground. Jeans that are too long can trip people and will result in frayed ends. Hemming is also used to make pieces of clothing, like skirts, fit better and look more custom-made.

Related: 11 ways to be more self-sufficient

needle and red threat stitching through white fabric

Common stitches

By learning some simple, common stitches, you can easily repair a variety of fabrics.

Running stitch

If you only learn one sewing technique, it probably should be a running stitch. According to Life Hacker, the running stitch is a fundamental technique and one of the most basic stitches out there. By learning a running stitch, you can easily sew patches, fix hems and mend holes in clothing. This type of stitch basically runs in and out of the fabric without ever doubling back on itself.

Back stitch

A back stitch is basically a running stitch with a slight twist. This type of sewing technique is ideal if you need something that is both strong and flexible. This includes attaching zippers or fixing tears in fabrics in areas that take a lot of stress. When sewing a back stitch, you always take one step back with every stitch you make. This results in a line of thread on the backside of the item and a running stitch on the front.

Whip stitch

A whip stitch is slightly more advanced than the previous two techniques but still easy to perform. These stitches can repair torn seams, pockets that have come undone and split hems. A whip stitch is ideal whenever you are sewing two pieces of fabric together, like the opening of a pillow case. The threads will be visible in a whip stitch, so make sure you select a color that closely matches the original fabric.

With these basic stitches and methods in mind, you are on your way to becoming an ace at basic clothing repair. Best of all, this will save you money and the planet’s resources.

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