Love Your Clothes: Mending Tips and Sewing Classes

For February, the 'Month of Love', we asked DIY guru and Redress Raleigh Operations Director Nicole Kligerman for some of her mending tips and techniques that help her keep her most-loved garments wearable and fashionable! In addition we've listed some Triangle-area sewing classes for those of you looking to enhance your skills or learn something new.

With all the love going around this month, why not show affection to your most-loved garments as well? Extending the life of your clothing instead of buying new reduces waste and can support small businesses if you take your clothes and shoes to a tailor or shoe repair shop!

My favorite way to mend rips and tears in my clothing is the DIY way. All I need is a needle, thread or yarn, some scrap fabric, and a thimble. This is one of the only times a thimble has been absolutely essential to the life of my fingertips!

There are various different methods to mend; some add some design and character to your clothing, some can even make your clothing look brand new again! For this post, I'm going to concentrate on a few ways to add some creativity to your favorite clothing at home with these mending techniques.

* Mending knits

When your sweater starts to be well loved, it may need some repairs. Using a yarn that has a similar fiber content to your sweater will allow the mended area to blend in nicely with the rest of the garment. Another option is to use a darning yarn, which is stronger.

What is darning, you may ask? It is a sewing technique for repairing holes or worn areas in textiles using only needle and thread.

With your thread and needle in hand, you are ready to darn! ;)

Darning is really quite simple and consists of creating vertical and horizontal woven lines through the knit fabric around the hole you are repairing. These images explain it better:

Mix up your colors, have fun! Add creative twists to all the well-loved knits in your house!

* Mending, the Boro Way

Boro is the Japanese art of mending textiles that stems as far back as the 17th century, when people would patch up clothing and quilts using scraps of old kimonos or other fabric, making the garment last long enough to become an heirloom.

Sashiko is a Japanese embroidery technique that is used regularly for boro. It is usually a running stitch, so it is sturdy and ideal for mending textiles.

Recently, there has been an explosion of trends that star indigo and sashiko boro techniques as a way to repair denim. Because of this, there are plenty of resources and online tutorials to help you become a boro master!

Use these methods as a jump off point to both extend the life of your wardrobe and to add some love and creativity to the best garments that you never want to lose.

So what are you waiting for? Mend away, friends!

Until next time,


Sewing Classes

If you’re looking to improve your skills or use that sewing machine you’ve had forever but haven’t gotten around to using - there are some sewing classes in the area for many different age groups and levels of experience.

Check out places that sell sewing machines and supplies, such as Bernina World of Sewing and Sew Unique Sewing Center, for example. Many quilting supply stores offer more specialized classes specifically for quilters as well. Thimble Pleasures in Chapel Hill has an extensive range of classes, including specialized techniques like embroidery and Temari. Carolina Sew-N-Vac also has some focused on embroidery and monogramming applications.

Some places, such as Sew Crafty in Durham, and Pins and Needles Studio in Raleigh, offer individual lessons too.

In addition, the local arts centers host a range of classes, with some of them geared particularly toward younger students. Cary Arts Center (p 37 & 38 of the brochure) and Pullen Arts Center (search for "sew" or "sewing") in Raleigh, for example. And Wake Tech also lists a few classes on their website. The Sewincraft Studio (Wake Forest) also provides some classes focused on kids and teens.

If you’re pressed for time but still need things mended, search for a tailor or ask your local dry cleaner if they have someone who does alterations or mends clothes - most of them do!