Giving Clothes a New Lease of Life. Altering and Repairing Practice.

Recently a friend asked me if I could salvage a dress she'd tried to shorten and hem. It was one of those purchases that she'd loved the style and colour of, but it was too long and the price was too good not to buy it. So she wanted to hem it and get some wear from it before summer was over. Unfortunately, it wasn't hanging right when she'd finished, so she asked if I could rescue it, or she’d throw it out.

It actually wasn't a hard save. Once un-picked it was apparent the hem wasn't level and measuring from the skirt section had given a false length, because it was different at the front and the back. So I levelled the hem up, overlocked it to match the sleeve hems and re-hemmed it. A quick iron to flatten the hem and it was all good again.

She insisted on giving me a bit of money for it and a conversation ensued about how I'd been considering whether I could make a little business repairing and altering clothes. She later sent me an article on visible mending and I figured I may as well start practicing on some of our old clothes. Hubby was quick to jump on board and gave me a favourite hoodie to repair.


I've done alterations and repairs for the family before, but usually shy away from more complex jobs, which was why I'd put this off before. His biggest complaint was that the sleeve cuffs had stretched and were now baggy. He wanted around 10cm taking out or new cuffs, but the chances are that I wouldn't be able to match the fabric, because it's well over ten years old and faded. So reducing the current cuffs was looking like the best option.


The cuffs had some holes and stains, which were well enough placed that I could remove them when I trimmed the 10cm excess away. On one cuff they were close enough to the joining seam to remove and keep the one seam. On the other side they were a bit far from the seam, so removing only 10 cm from the seam edge wouldn't have removed all of the holes. I made an executive decision and removed the 10 cm around the holes, but it meant I had to add in a second seam. With the ribbing, it shouldn't be too visible anyway.

One cuff removed.

Cuff opened out, the 10cm removed and stitched back together. It's amazing that the ends of the cuffs, where the fold sits, haven't worn through.

Once resized and sewn back together, I needed to figure out how I wanted to reattach these new, smaller cuffs to the sleeves without pleating the sleeves or over stretching the cuffs again. I decided on hand stitching with a back and forth stitch (like a running stitch, but pushing the needle directly from one side to the other at a 90° angle rather than running it along. I find this allows for more stretch to happen in the fabric without risking the stiches breaking when it gets stretched a bit. It's slower going, but worth it on stretchy fabrics.) By making the stitch nearly double the size on the sleeve side compared to the stitch on the cuff side, this draws the sleeve in gradually without it pleating at all. Once the cuffs were back in place then I could overlock them to stop any fabric fray.


Like new!

While altering the sleeves I noticed that the rest of the hoodie wasn't in quite as good condition as I'd first thought. There was a hole at the back which was over a centimetre across...


...and one of the sleeves was starting to wear through a little next to the seam.

No matter how I repaired these I couldn't make them invisible repairs, but hubby doesn't like obvious ones, so I wanted to camouflage them as best I could. The sleeve just needed a few stiches to pull the hole in and stop further runs in the knit fabric.


The larger hole at the back I could close like a seam, but that would lead to a pucker at the back which would draw your eye to it. So I went for the other option which is sewing it down to a patch on the reverse. As I mentioned before, the fabric is a fine knit, so I wanted to make sure I sewed through all of the loops around the hole to stop it laddering any more. The thread I used was not a match to the fabric. From the choices I had in my sewing box, a dark brown stood out the least, but I still wanted to make the stiches on the outside as small as possible to keep them less visible. Once the flap was seen back down the hole became less obvious anyway, so while the repair is visible, it doesn't stand out too much, so I have a happy husband.


There, not too obvious, especially with camera blur. ;D

I think my next project will be visible mending on some of my old jeans. Autumn approaches, so it will be good to be able to wear some old favourites without a draft getting in.


Take my hat off to that fancy needle work

Hey @minismallholding!
Just to let you know that there's been some changes with the use of TAGS and the new community features. I'm already learning that many of the new features are great for us all, and can really help pull us together and connect with new people.

For example, if you click the ecoTrain or NM badge you can see the whole feed of who is has been awarded the badge by that community. It's also easy now to see who is subscribed to each community so you can click a few new names and see what they are blogging. I think these are great changes!

So, the use of the ecoTrain tag has changed!
We are now curating and posting in the ecoTrain Community Page.

So from now on you can either:

Post from our community page and use any tags you want including #ecotrain if you like.
If you're posting normally then please use the following tag first
hive-166850 (instead of ecoTrain)
Thanks a lot, i look forward to seeing your posts on the community page!

PS if you don't manage to post with our tag and we spot a good post from you, we will cross-post for you!

Hope thats not too confusing! xx

Will it appear in the community if you put the hive tag on it? Gosh, this is going to take me a while to get my head around all this!

Thanks for the heads up, Alex.

it will if you put it first! else it wont unless someone cross-posts it in,.. Im chatting with those tech folk to SEE IF it can be made easier... so you can use the hive tag second or third etc.. right now thats how it is for all communities..

so, if you want to post to the NeedleWork Community & ecoTrain community you can post FROM the Needlework Community page

then use our hive tag first and i THINK you will appear on both!.. yeah a bit of a head spinner

Well, won't hurt to try and see what happens.

Let me know as I just tried it and it didn't work.

sorry you know, i was wrong, you can only post to one community .. so we just have to choose basically which community we post to..

This is where cross-posting is going to be invaluable 🌱

Man, it's so hard to let go of a good hoodie. You amaze me.. sewing is one skill I just can't get a handle on. It's a dying art in a throw a way society.

I'm not sure that it's a dying art - we've seen an increase in the UK of shops, clubs and classes for needlework and other crafts and changes in the fashion industry (one of the biggest contributors to carbon gas poluution) has seen an increasing focus on sustainability and re-purposed materials.

Ain't that the truth. A good hoodie is so hard to part with!

I feel like people either love sewing or hate it. I have been surprised how many more people here in Australia seen to sew, compared to England. Or maybe it's just calisthenics and dance people. 🤔

I love and hate sewing - I love what you can do with it and I hate that often I have to work so hard to get what I had seen in my mind ;)

Lol! Especially when you get over ambitious!

I often make repairs like you just did, but mine never come out so neatly! This is a wonderful job!

I recently took my favorite winter coat in for a new lining. It's such a quality coat that I can probably get another 20 years out of it. I also took my parka in for a new zipper. I might get another 10 years from that.

If more people would repair things instead of tossing, you could make some money at this. There are 4 alteration/repair places in the small city south of me, and I used 2 of them for these repairs.

Thank you. I certainly make mistakes and I'm dull learning, but I enjoy sewing, for the most part. It's nicer if you don't make mistakes, though! 😆

The problem with a lot of clothing now is that it doesn't last very well, even with repairs. That's wonderful that you're getting so many years from your coats. I'm pretty impressed with how well this hoodie has lasted. Much of the clothing we get in Australia doesn't last long at all.

We have a few shops here which make alterations, usually combined with dry cleaning. I'm not sure of they do repairs, though.

Great repairs. I've got some jeans to tackly: I have a pair of old work jeans for the garden and cleaning, they are enormous and I have to wear a belt to keep them up, but so comfortable for moving about!
I like the visible repairs movement, it brings in a whole new way of expressing yourself :)

I'm looking forward to doing the jeans. I recently came across sashiko for visible repairs. I'll probably start with something simple and work from there. Have you tried that yet?

I haven't tried it myself but we had a speaker at my monthly sewing club who collected traditional garmnts from China and Japan and had a beautiful collection of repaired garments using sashiko and other techniques - many of them were very old and had been repaired many times (including the repairs)! The process for making them in the first place (they were mainly made from hemp, by hand) was so arduous and time-consuming that there was great value in maintaining them as long as possible. Environmentally, the same is true for us today.

I'd have loved to see them. Repairs of repairs! I wouldn't have thought of that. My mindset has already changed and I'm pulling out old jeans I'd earmarked for scraps and planning repairs, but I would probably still have thought repairs needing repair to be the end. Now I know better.

A very nice garment refurb! Nice job!!

Repair, recycling and reducing the need for new is a big part of eco-living, and definitely something we'd love to see you posting from within the #ecotrain community. Best fit, IMHO, pardon the pun. :) LOL

Thanks for using the ecoTrain tag! There has been a change as we migrate ecoTrain to the communities system..

From now on please use the tag
as the first tag
Post from our community page and then use any tags you like at:

Then we can all see you and keep supporting your posts!
Keep up the great vlogging and inspiration..

With Love From ecoTrain

Lol! Perfect pun. I'm going to be torn between communities at this rate.

At this point you just have to post in the community you best see fit. This post was excellent and very fitting for a needlework post, great choice ;D

Thank goodness for the cross post feature so you can share in multiple places if needed . I still have to get a handle on that one though. Not sure I’ll be using much.

Why thank you, Lol!

The crossposting feature could come across as a little bit farmy, so I'm going to stay away from crossposting my own articles.

Yes, I’m learning this myself now. It is better to be cross posted by someone else rather you do it for your own post. I too will not be doing this.

So if someone feels your post fits also with their community they can simple just cross post it. That way everyone can just post in the community they choose without guilt.

As long as you use the "important" tags as one of the first five (the others can't be searched for), your post will be found :)

Good to know. 😊

Wow this was some great mending and an excellent post! We sure love posts that show upcycling and mending! Seriously that mended cuff made the hoodie look brand new . You’ve got skills my friend ~

I will be making our first Community post for NeedleWorkMonday tomorrow. But since you already posted I wanted to give you a heads up. Although when you post in the Community it shows at the top in NeedleWorkMonday, we are going to keep the tag usage the same. So if you post on Monday’s you would use the #needleworkmonday tag and if you post on any other day you would use the #needlework tag without the word Monday attached ;)

Sorry, I was going to schedule it, then I went into auto mode and pressed publish. It was nearly Monday here! 😅

Oh it’s okay, no worries at all. With everything changing I just wanted everyone to know we are doing business as usual! 😄😉

Great post!

This sewing on something on the back I often do with jeans and other trousers that get thin on the inside of the thighs. A thin fabric is enough and if you choose the yarn accordingly, it really can't be seen.

That sounds like "a stitch in time" kind of repairing. Getting to it before it becomes a hole, nice one! For jeans I actually quite like the visible repairs. They often come into fashion anyway. It's hubby who isn't so keen.

Brilliant! I love the idea of repairing old items or turning them into something new. I have my grandmother's old sewing machine, and every few weeks my kids and I get it out and go on a spree taking old fabric scraps and worn-out clothing to re-purpose as napkins, doll clothing and fun fabric crafts. You have inspired me to take more risks to actually mend things instead of just re-purposing the fabric. 🌱

I'm trying to take a new approach of deciding how mendable things are. There will be those times where they aren't really worth mending, because they're beyond repair or too small and those are the items that can be used to repair other things.

I like watching those videos of someone hand-sewing a beautiful pattern with thread to cover up a snag or hole. It embellishes the item in such a pretty and practical way. I think my youngest has a knack for that kind of sewing - I should give him a project. 🌱

Sounds like a plan! Then you'll have an expert in the house for fashionable repairs. 😉

This is amazing! Well done! (I'm still figuring out this Steem/Hive thing while looking around a bit. Cross commenting on Hive.) !COFFEEA

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