Basic Sewing Tips to Make Your Clothes Last

Knowing a few simple sewing tips can do wonders for your wardrobe, not to mention your bank account. You don't need a sewing machine, but being comfortable with a needle and thread when a hem drops or when you lose a button will save you time and money in the long run.

A Dropped Hem
Repairing a hem on a skirt or a pair of dress pants is a fairly simple process. The first thing you need to do is gather together your supplies, which include a sewing needle, straight pins, a ruler or measuring tape, thread and a pair of scissors.

Use your measuring tape or your ruler to measure the length of the hem in an area where the hem has not dropped. In the spot where the hem requires fixing, turn the material under the same width, and pin it into the proper alignment using the straight pins. Thread your needle with the color of thread that has previously been used in the hem. Use a piece of thread that is approximately 18 inches (or 45 centimeters) in length, and carefully place it through the eye of the needle. Once you have done this, make both sides of the thread equal on each side of the needle, and tie the two ends into a knot.

Always mend on the inside of the skirt so it does not show through to the outside. Begin stitching approximately ½ inch (or 12 millimeters) before the spot where the hem has come loose, and use what is known as a blind hemstitch. To do this, you will need to create a small horizontal stitch in the material, and be sure that you pick up as few threads from the right side of the material as possible.

The next step is to take a slightly larger stitch in the vicinity of the folded hem that is approximately ¼ inch (or six millimeters) from the very first stitch you made. Whatever you do, do not pull the fabric too tightly, or it will pucker and will not lie flat.

Repeat the process of making the horizontal stitch until you have passed the point where the hem has dropped, and then add another ½ inch (12 millimeters). To complete the process, you will need to tie a small knot in the thread that is barely noticeable, and then cut the thread close to the fabric. Now you're ready to go.

Patching Holes in the Knees of Pants
Kids' clothes, such as jeans or casual pants, take a lot of abuse and are prone to developing holes in the knees. Instead of tossing them out, try repairing them with a sew-on patch. Kids love snazzy-looking patches because it gives their pants more character.

First, you choose a patch that is as close to the original material of the pants as possible, or a patch that your child prefers. Then cut away the ragged edges where the hole has appeared. Take the patch, and cut it so that it is approximately two inches longer as well as wider than the hole. All four edges of the patch should then be folded under ½ inch, and the patch then needs to be pressed to make it lay flat.

Carefully pin the patch in place, making sure it is properly positioned. When sewing by hand, always use the backstitch because this type of stitching is most secure.

Button Repair
Buttons can come loose easily, whether it be on a sweater, blouse, blazer or jacket. Luckily, replacing a shank button is a simple process. A shank button is the type of button that has a tiny loop under it as opposed to holes in the middle of it.

To start, you will need to knot a double thread, and then make a small stitch through the fabric where you need to replace the button. Pull the needle through the shank as well as the fabric. Go back and forth through the shank button with double thread at least three to four times.You will need to push the sewing needle to the wrong side of the fabric and make two to three stitches directly under the button. As you do each stitch, pull the needle carefully through the loop of the thread. It is important to pull the thread as tight as possible in order to ensure that each stitch is knotted correctly. After that, cut off the thread that is left over.

To replace a button with holes in the middle, the process is similar. However, after threading the needle and making the first stitch where you will replace the button, insert a toothpick between the button and the fabric. Without the toothpick, the button will be too tight against the fabric, and you won't be able to push the button through the button hole.

Push the needle through a button hole, and then push the needle through the other button hole and the fabric. Go back and forth between the fabric and the button holes. If sewing a four-hole button onto fabric, try to sew through each hole. Repeat the process until you are confident the button is properly attached. Remove the toothpick when you are finished attaching the button, and push the needle so that it emerges in between the button and fabric. Wrap the thread several times around the threads attaching the button to the fabric, and then push the needle through the fabric and tie it off.

Runs in Pantyhose
One of the biggest problems with women's clothing is getting a run in your pantyhose. If you get a run, then reach for a bottle of clear nail polish or a can of hairspray.

Nail Polish. Lift the nylon away from your skin and apply a small portion to the run. Do not pull on the material or you could make it worse. Apply the polish all around the run, but do it with a dabbing motion as opposed to brushing it on. Allow time for the polish to dry.

Hairspray. If you decide to use hairspray, hold the material away from your leg and spray the run carefully, making sure to cover the entire area. Hairspray will help to bind the nylon fibers together on a temporary basis. The good thing about hairspray is that it dries quickly.

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