Easy Clothing Repair Hacks To Try (If You Want To Avoid Buying New Clothes)

You'll need a sewing kit, some glue, and a bit of imagination

Cheap fast fashion is readily available at the touch of a button – so most of us are far more likely to buy a new item than to repair an old one. And anyway, would you even know how to mend that ripped jumper if you had to?

Recently, MPs on the environment audit committee called for kids to be taught basic sewing in school. More needs to be done to tackle our “wasteful relationship” with fashion, they said, suggesting a 1p tax for retailers to fund a scheme that would stop mountains of fabric ending up in landfill.

To get clued up on how to make our clothes last longer, we asked the experts for some easy repair hacks – here’s how you can breathe new life into your wardrobe without hitting the shops.

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1. Swat Up On Your Sewing Skills.

There’s really no need to replace an item just because it has a tiny hole or a missing button – even though it feels easier to buy a new one. Learn how to use a needle and thread, instead.

Chloe Fox, 30, a member of the Shoreditch Sisters Women’s Institute, recommends learning to sew. “It’s super, super easy,” she says. “The best place to look is on YouTube, there’s tonnes of videos and hacks.” These skills will be beneficial for things like sewing on a button, which is really simple.

Another great hack is to use a sewing machine to fix jeans. Quite often, they tend to rip on the inner thigh, which is an area you don’t usually see, so it makes sense to repair them. You can get a patch of fabric on the inside and sew over that patch back and forth on the area like a cross stitch, says Fox. “It can look quite discreet.”

Sometimes, Fox says, it can be good to have a bit of fun and make the repair visible. “I recently darned some gloves with contrasting thread to make a feature of the fix, which is an old Japanese technique,” she says.

Chloe Fox

Lulu O’Connor, the 33-year-old founder of online clothes repairs and alteration service Clothes Doctor, says mending small holes in clothes is also really easy. “Turn it inside out and stitch from the back, so it will totally disappear,” she says. “There are good tutorials online for mending things like t-shirts, where you can take a few stitches at the back and make the hole disappear.”

To learn to knot your needle thread, watch a short tutorial here.

2. Get Creative With Glue.

Terry Fox, a wedding dress designer who runs sewing workshops, recommends getting handy with glue and adhesives, as well as stitches. Buying fabric glue is the first step to an easy fix, she says. “Get one with a small nozzle if you have a hole. You literally run it along a seam, or somewhere on the inside of a garment, and press it together to let it dry.”

You can do this with clothes that are too revealing, also – perhaps a top that’s languishing at the back of your wardrobe because it gapes at the front. Or you can use glue and pins to redesign an outfit.

Say you’ve got a baggy top: Fox suggests buying some elasticated cuffing (like the kind you get on a sweatshirt) and putting it around the top in a neon colour. Or, if you’ve got a jumper that’s a bit ‘last year’, give it an update by gathering it at the back, scrunching it up and tying it tightly with a simple elastic band that can slip into the back of your jeans to hold it in place.

3. Beware Of Moths.

Okay, this isn’t a repair hack so to say, but moths are a common problem, as Lulu O’Connor, from the Clothes Doctor, testifies (holey jumpers are one of the service’s most popular fixes). They particularly like to munch away on expensive fabrics like wool and cashmere – and enjoy nibbling away at food and sweat stains on clothes.

Moths like to lay eggs in dark corners, so be sure to give your wardrobe a good clean. If you do have an infestation, fold up your clothes, place them in bags, and freeze them for a couple of days “which will completely stop the problem,” she says.