Easy ways to dye clothes, hem pants & clean shoes

July 28, 2015

Clothes maintenance can be easy and save you money. These are some simple ways you can keep your shoes clean, dye your clothes and get your pants fitting perfectly.

Easy ways to dye clothes, hem pants & clean shoes

Dye clothes

  • Take care when dyeing. Wear rubber gloves and an apron, and cover work surfaces and floors with newspaper.
  • For hot water dyes, wash the item and leave it damp. Submerge in dye mixture, bring slowly to the boil and simmer. Cool in the water. Rinse in warm water.
  • With cold water dyes, first dissolve powder in hot water, add fixative and salt. Soak for an hour before rinsing. For wool, substitute vinegar for salt and fixative.
  • Machine dyes are ideal for bulky items. After dyeing, run through wash cycle with detergent at hottest temperature. Run it again, this time with the machine empty to clear dye residue that could stain other washing.

Hemming essentials

Pants bought off the rack are often too long, but shortening them is easy with a little care. You will need:

  • Tape measure
  • Pins
  • Stitch remover
  • Iron
  • Full-length mirror
  • Needle and thread
  • Scissors

Hemming in simple steps

When you have all your supplies, it's time to start hemming:

  1. Measure the depth of the existing hems. Try on the trousers, turn up and mark the new length with pins on each leg. You may need to recruit a helper for this.
  2. Take them off, turn them inside out, undo the existing hems and press.
  3. Turn up to your pin marks, using the tape measure to make sure that both hems are equal.
  4. Try on, checking in the mirror that legs match exactly for length. Adjust as necessary.
  5. Tack new hems close to the turned-up edge, then cut off any excess fabric. If legs are tapered, open the side seams to make the fabric lie flat.
  6. To neaten raw edges, make a small turning or finish as for seams. Pin, then hem using a hemming or blind hemming stitch.

Look after and clean shoes

  • Shoes will keep their shape and last longer if well cared for and cleaned regularly.
  • Take shoes to get repaired before the heels wear down into the body of the shoe, and before soles become thin and uncomfortable.
  • If possible, switch to a different pair of shoes every couple of days.
  • Insert shoe trees into good leather shoes to keep them in shape.
  • Dry wet shoes away from direct heat. Stuff them with newspaper or rolled-up magazines to keep them in shape and absorb moisture.
  • Remove salt stains by rubbing with equal parts of water and vinegar. Apply with a cotton pad.
  • Protect new shoes with a waterproof stain-repellent spray. Repeat applications regularly before going out in bad weather.

Leather shoe masterclass

To clean leather shoes, take out the laces and brush off loose dirt with a stiff brush. Apply polish with a clean cotton cloth or soft brush. Leave to dry for 10 minutes, then buff. If dirty, clean with saddle soap using given directions. For special types of leather, try the following:

  • Patent leather: Shine with purpose-made cream, baby oil or petroleum jelly using a clean cloth. Remove scuffs with a clean pencil eraser.
  • Suede: Use a plastic or fine metal brush to clean and brush the nap. Dust oily stains with baby powder and brush off.
  • Canvas: Spray with stain remover, then scrub by hand with detergent. Or machine wash, adding towels to stop them from bouncing around.

With some basic knowledge and inexpensive supplies, you can help your clothes and shoes fit better and keep longer. Be sure to work carefully and your clothing budget could strech a little bit further.

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