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A stitch in time saves cash...
With the annual Budget doing little to ease austerity, the biggest fashion trend right now is the tightening of belts.
Style may go on the back burner in times of economic strife, but the humble needle and thread can save you pounds when it comes to increasing your wardrobe options.
Your sewing box might even be the answer to resisting splurges on cheaper ‘fast fashion’ buys, which can prove costly in the long-run when they’re falling apart at the seams.
Rebecca Peacock, co-author of new book Make & Mend, says: “We all know how easy it is to buy a cheap pair of jeans or a couple of low-price T-shirts when our wardrobe becomes more shabby than chic.
“But these low-cost clothes can be a false economy in terms of the planet, society and your purse.”
Give your wardrobe some longevity with our make and mend guide.
IN A FIX
How many times have you had a fashion fit because your favourite jumper has developed a hole or your most flattering trousers are sporting a tear?
Rather than go on an shopping hunt for replacements, try repairing them.
“Mending clothes is a skill that will not only allow your wardrobe to last longer, but also encourage you to think before you buy,” says Rebecca.
“The ability to get out the sewing kit and restore your treasured clothes to their former glory is invaluable.”
Sort through your wardrobe, be ruthless and pull out any garments that require repair but are structurally sound.
It’s worth fixing anything that’s come apart at a seam, Rebecca advises: “You can fix clothes with small tears in seams, holes that can be darned, small stains that can be covered, any item that’s too big, trousers that are too short and items with broken zips or hems that have come down.”
If you’re lacking in sewing skills, try taking your repair haul to a company offering alteration services and ask for a bulk discount – or see if a capable relative can help.
Clothes can take on a whole new life with a few minor adjustments. Whether they’re too frumpy, ill-fitting or just downright unfashionable, think about the revived pieces you can conjure up.
Rebecca says: “Having the skills to adapt clothes will allow you to customise unsuitable garments into something that will not only fit perfectly but also be unique to you.
“It might just be worth buying that £5 dress in the charity shop that’s beautiful but doesn’t quite fit – a few stitches here and there can work wonders.”
Charity and second-hand shops should be your first port of call if you’re on the hunt for interesting patterns, textures and designs that can be chopped up for a new creation.
“Try looking for clothes with unusual buttons, excessive beading and bright colours,” Rebecca suggests.
Utilise unique talking-point items (buttons, zips, pockets, buckles, loops, motifs and ribbons) from clothes you no longer want, to customise other projects.
FASHION SOMETHING NEW
Sometimes the repairs just aren’t worth all that needle threading effort. If you have a garment that’s beyond the rescue stage, it doesn’t have to be consigned to the duster cupboard.
“There are a myriad of projects that can be created from scraps of fabric,” Rebecca assures. Her favourite projects include turning beloved tops into fabric shopping bags and fashioning eye-catching scarves from drab old clothes – a beginner’s dream project.
Don’t throw away old trousers , transform them into a skirt that you’ll wear for years to come.
This is most effective with jeans, according to Rebecca: “You don’t need to cut into the fabric much at all, leaving you with a rather chic denim number.
“You can cut the length to suit, whether you want a calf-length skirt or a mini – and choose between a slim pencil or comfortable A-line shape, simply by moving things about a bit.”
SAVE OR SAY GOODBYE?
Weigh up whether you should save and stitch, or discard and ditch.
Rebecca recommends asking yourself these questions. If the answer is yes to three or more, get your mending box out. If no, then add to your recycling pile and use the fabric, buttons and detailing for other projects.
1) Do you love it? Would you be truly upset if you chopped it up to make something else?
2) Is the tear or rip on a seam? If you sew the seam back together again, will this solve the problem?
3) If the item is stained, can it be patched without ruining the design? Could it be dyed a suitably dark colour to cover the stain?
4) If the garment is too big, will a small alteration solve the problem?
5) If it’s too small, can you find suitable fabric to enlarge it?
COST PER WEAR
“If a garment costs £30 to buy new and you wear it ten times, the price per wear is £3. If the garment then gets a hole in it and you throw it away, you have to spend another £30 to replace it. However, if you repair the garment, and wear it a further ten times, the price per wear is just £1.50, and you haven’t had to fork out for a new one,” says Rebecca.
l Make & Mend: A Guide To Recycling Clothes And Fabrics by Rebecca Peacock & Sam Tickner is published by Spring Hill, priced £9.99