Tagged: mending

It’s Not Your Sweater’s Fault Winter Is Terrible

This I Wear | Don't Give Up On Winter Just Yet

It’s always at the end of a season that I start to hate everything in my closet. Nothing feels new or exciting! I’m so over it all. And winter is the worst season for this feeling, of course, because I’m as tired of the cold as I am of every sweater in my closet.

But we are resilient! We can turn moments of desperation into moments of great creativity! As I remember New York still being cold in April of last year, I know I’m going to have to put up with my winter weather clothing for longer than I would like. To make this easier and more exciting for us all, here is a little DIY guide on embellishing a sweater from our costumer-in-residence, Lisa. Whether you just need a little extra sparkle or you’re hiding a hole or stain, a few beads and sequins can make an old sweater new again.

Here’s the how-to from Lisa:

Materials and Tools
A vintage, thrifted or well-loved sweater
Sequins
Small seed beads
Short bugle beads (like these vintage ones!)
Thread
Beading needles
Scissors

This I Wear | Sweater DIY

Instructions
(1) First, lay out your sweater flat, and start playing with the design of your beads and sequins. For my pattern, I chose something relatively easy. Starting with my sequins – I chose metallic blue sequins with a center hole – I placed 4 sequins on each side of my cardigan’s neckline, about an inch apart. Then I chose how my bugle beads (the long, skinny beads) will be arranged around the center sequin. I chose to go with 5 silver bugle beads fanning out from the middle of the sequin.

(2) Thread your beading needle and knot the two ends together. With thread folded on the double, start sewing on the backside of the sweater by making a stitch horizontally through the sweater immediately behind where your first sequin will be: start from the back so that your knot is on the inside of the sweater and make a small stitch to the front of the sweater and back in. This gives a good foundation for stitching and means the knot will not pull through.

(3) Now point your needle through the center of the sequin and pull through to the front of the sweater. Add 1 small seed bead to your needle and let it slide down the thread to meet the sequin. Without going through the seed bead, go back through the hole of the sequin to the backside of the sweater.

(4) Next, start attaching the bugle beads. Push your needle back up through the front side of the sweater where you’d like the bead to go. Then slide a bead on the needle and go immediately back through to the inside side of the sweater. Repeat until all the bugle beads in this cluster are secured.

(5) To complete a cluster (or once you’ve run out of thread), tie off your thread by stitching horizontally on the inside of the sweater and (6) double knotting the thread. Cut the thread, leaving ¼” of extra thread above the knot.

Repeat all steps until the neckline (or anywhere else you choose) has been fully embellished, completing one cluster of beads and sequins at a time. The pattern does not have to be perfect, as mine clearly displays, to turn out beautifully. These steps work well for anything you are looking to embellish, from clutches to collars to sleeve cuffs.

Here’s to hoping you and your sweater survive this winter together!

Mercury-Inspired Mending

This I Wear | Mercury Mending

Last week, my office was hit with an IT meltdown of epic proportions. It was so epic in fact that I immediately hopped on Google and inquired if Mercury was retrograde. It turned out that not only was Mercury retrograde, but it was actually the first day of this latest period. Since the IT meltdown continues into this week, it’s tempting to avoid certain tasks – like writing, using a computer, or negotiating a lease renewal with your landlord.

I won’t get into the details of Mercury retrograde if you’re unfamiliar with this extremely popular astrological cycle that wins over many a skeptic. However, if you’ve noticed that your technology is on the fritz and your communications with others are a little murky, well, then you already know what it is.

Regardless of whether you believe it, a colleague shared the silver lining of all this with me. Apparently, it is a great time to finish projects rather than start something new. Her way of tying up loose ends was to take on her pile of mending. So instead of venturing out into the cold on a winter weekend day, she stayed in and hand-washed, repaired rips, sewed buttons back on, and finished all of the little things needed to keep the things she loved looking their best. And that, despite the chaos in the heavens, is just a lovely thing to do.

Visit my pinterest board for some mending and repurposing advice or share your favorite resources here. Stay warm, good luck and enjoy putting your sewing kit to good use, wearing freshly fixed clothes, and dropping off those heels that needed polishing and repair to your favorite cobbler!

The Monthly Mend: Fix A Ripped Belt Loop

TIW | Fix a ripped belt loop
Last week, my mom/seamstress fixed a ripped belt loop that had created a fairly large hole on one end of the loop. I had no idea if it was even repairable, so I was amazed when it not only could be fixed by hand but also looked like nothing had ever happened. This week, our seamstress-in-residence, my sister Lisa, is back sharing how this sort of magic can help you out if you too have done the “skinny jean jig” one too many times. – Rebecca

It happened to me one day as I was getting dressed for work. I was doing my usual skinny jean jig and, whoops, there went a belt loop. Now being a seamstress doesn’t mean I will fix everything right away or even within a month. Cut to six months later and I’m finally digging through my Ziploc full of iron-on patches ready to fix these pants.

For those of you new to the mending scene, iron-on patches are pieces of fabric (usually a twill or jean) with an adhesive backing that can be ironed onto the underside of any rips or tears to stabilize the torn fabric and hide the rip. It also gives you something to sew that ripped belt loop back onto.

Once I find a matching jean colored-patch and plug in the iron, the fun begins:

You’ll need:

– An iron-on patch in a similar color (these can be found at drugstores as well as sewing stores)
– An iron
– A long needle (big can be better when it comes to thick fabric like denim) or a sewing machine
– Thread to match the thread of your jeans
– A few straight pins or safety pins

Start with heating up the iron: high heat is fine – a cotton setting if you have it – since the patch is made of cotton. If you are ironing onto a non-cotton fabric, adjust the temperature of the iron to the setting for the main fabric. In general, it’s smart to avoid any steam. A little bit is okay, but the steam can prohibit the adhesive from sticking as well as it could.

Next step is to prep for ironing by placing the patch. I trim my patch down to about a half-inch bigger on all sides of the rip.

01. Then, I pin the patch in place with the adhesive side facing down on the wrong side (i.e. the inside of the jeans) and flip over to the right side (i.e. the exterior) to make sure it’s covering the rip.

Once everything is lined up on the right side, flip back over to the wrong side, making sure to keep everything in place as best as you can (that’s why the pins are super helpful!) and take the iron to the patch. For this situation, it was imperative to catch the ripped jean and the ripped belt loop with the iron even though the belt loop has a thick bottom. That means iron as hard as you can.

02. Finally, let’s reinforce the patch with some stitching. I was anxious and did my first stitches very quickly on my sewing machine with a tight zig-zag stitch above the original belt loop stitch.

03. The stitch is still holding, but I can still see the rip.

04. So I decided to strengthen the stitching by hand with a “slip stitch” (or blind stitch) by running the needle and thread through the belt loop end and into the patch at the back and then repeating this loop until I’ve got a secure stitch connecting the belt loop back to the jeans and patch. Really there is no wrong way to mend as long as it holds! Just be sure to tie off the thread on the inside of your jeans after you’ve finished stitching with a knot as close to the fabric as possible.

05. Sometimes your rip may have left some frayed threads. If that’s the case, now is the time to cut these away for a clean, finished look.

06. You’re done! The belt loop is now securely fastened to the patch.

Tip: If your iron-on patch comes unstuck in the wash, Stitch Witchery is a great iron-on adhesive tape found at your local sewing store that will re-attach the patch to the jeans. It can be cut down to fit around your patch and ironed on using the same method as you did with the patch before.

While the belt loop may look as good as new, it’s best to do your future skinny jean jigs while pulling up the whole waistband, and not relying on belt loops.

More mending questions? Find Lisa on twitter @lisammagee or follow her tumblr, Stitched History, for her inspiring look into costume and fashion history.

All photos by Lisa Magee.

A Few Links: Mending

This I Wear | A few links: Mending

It has been a long winter. And while I’ve been hibernating, I’ve been collecting ideas for posts. But as Spring and all of its newness and fresh ideas flood in, I realized it’s been awhile since I’ve given a good solid shout-out to those people and companies that have been inspiring me and teaching me a thing or two. And I’m still really feeling the mending vibe.

My favorites? Three solid sources, all teaching me how to take care of my clothes a little better. Enjoy!

01. nudie jeans believes all of us can be our own tailor. Check out their how-to video on repairing your jeans. (more on repair here)

02. Dominique Browning’s “Slow Love Life” article on the necessity of having a sewing kit. (If you don’t have one yet, Martha circa-1997 has you covered on what to stock in your own kit.)

03. Kristin Glenn of Seamly.co with 13 ways to make your clothes last longer.

What are your favorite mending tips and resources?

 

Sashiko: Finding beauty in mending

This I Wear | Sashiko: Finding Beauty in Mending

Japan rose to the top of my travel list after I couldn’t help but feel the stereotypical envy of a friend’s Facebook photos, taken while sitting in a hot spring looking out over beautiful green mountains. I want to go to there.

But recently I’ve become totally enamored of Japanese traditional arts, which seem to perfectly marry beauty and practicality regardless of the medium.

It was the beauty aspect that inspired me to sign up for a Sashiko embroidery class at the Textile Arts Center here in New York. Sashiko is a traditional Japanese embroidery, and its geometric and linear patterns are beautiful yet misleading in their complexity. The trick is that for even the most detailed design, the maker can find the longest linear route for her stitches and rarely begin a new thread.

By the end of the three-hour class, I had half of a potholder embroidered. And a few weeks later, I had a completed potholder with a very obvious untied stitch that I am convinced will fall out if someone was to even breathe on it.

But while my beginner’s potholder might be fragile, the real beauty of Sashiko is that it was meant to be tough. The style of embroidery began as a way to mend and reinforce elbows and knees and other clothing spots prone to uneven wear. But like all Japanese arts, someone along the line realized that it might as well be beautiful too, and Sashiko is a perfect example of combining utility and beauty. As the craft matured, it evolved from just a mending technique into its own art form.

One of the most popular uses of Sashiko is to repair worn knees in denim. Instead of trying to hide the mending process to make them look brand new again, the jeans evolve into something new that shows both their age and their rebirth. It is not unlike the Japanese art of Kintsugi, when broken pottery is pieced back together with gold. The repaired item becomes more valuable than when it was brand new.

Mending can be an art. It can tell the stories of a garment’s life. It can increase value, even if often just emotionally. It can turn something that even we did not appreciate into something treasured. And perhaps it can even help us see the “flaws” of our clothing as exactly why we love them most.

Ready to try Sashiko? Check out this great tutorial on Purl Bee. And visit my “Mending & Repurposing” Pinterest board for more inspiration on how to let your mending show.

Images: [left] My potholder!; [right] Sashiko embroidery on denim via SarahDivi.com, found via Pinterest

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