Smart ways to repair your damaged clothing

July 27, 2015

Don't be so quick to donate or dispose of a damaged article of clothing. Many of them can be repaired, and the good news is you're likely able to do it yourself at home. Here are some tips on how.

Smart ways to repair your damaged clothing

Mend worn elbows

Jackets made of loosely–knit fabrics, such as wool tweed, first begin to show wear on elbows, where friction is highest during use. If the jacket is otherwise in good shape, buy a pair of suede elbow patches to cover the holes. Some elbow patches are iron-on while others must be hand-sewn in place.

  1. Pin the patches in place.
  2. Try on the jacket to check the positioning.
  3. Stitch the patches in place.
  4. Use a thimble to push the needle through the punched holes around the outside edge of the patches.

Fix a snagged sweater

When a sweater is snagged, you need to resist the temptation to cut or pull on the yarn, which can trigger more unraveling. Instead, turn the garment inside out and do the following.

  1. Point a large sewing needle or crochet hook into the snag and gently wiggle the yarn towards the inside of the garment.
  2. Once you have determined the length of the snag, use the needle to push one half of the snag gently back into place under the adjacent stitch.
  3. Repeat the procedure on the other half of the snag while holding the replaced portion in place.
  4. If the yarn is broken, use a needle threaded with closely matching yarn to close the hole carefully with small stitches from the underside of the sweater. Avoid using regular thread, as it can eventually cut into the yarn. 

Patch a hole

Children's play clothes and jeans that are worn at the knees or other stress points can be repaired with iron-on patches.

  1. Buy preshrunk patches that don't pucker when washed.
  2. Lay the garment flat and trim any stray thread.
  3. Insert cardboard inside the pants leg and iron the patch on the hole, setting your iron on the temperature recommended by the manufacturer.

Repair a frayed collar or cuffs

While a frayed collar or cuffs might indicate that a garment is beyond fixing, don't despair. Take the garment to a tailor, who may be able to turn a cuff under, reverse it or make a new cuff from extra material.

  • While the procedure may be expensive, it's often less expensive than replacing the garment, particularly if it is of good quality.

Mend moth damage

Unfortunately, the only real solution to heavy-duty moth damage is a professional reweaver. Reweavers use small bits of fabric from inside seams to piece the garment back together, and the results are often unnoticeable. A good reweaving job is expensive, but worth it to save a cherished piece of clothing.

Fix zippers

To keep both metal- and plastic-toothed zippers sliding smoothly:

  • Periodically lubricate them by rubbing a dry cake of soap across the teeth.
  • If the zipper becomes dirty, clean it with a toothbrush dipped in a solution of dishwashing detergent and water.

If the slider comes loose from the tracks of either type of zipper:

  • Pry off the bottom stop and rethread the track through the slider.
  • If possible, reattach the stop and crimp it into place.
  • If the stop is damaged, use a needle and heavy thread to sew a new one.
  • To replace a missing handle from a slider, attach a very small key to the slider.

Replacing your ripped clothing can be expensive. Save some money by completing simple repair jobs with these tips!

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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