Learning how to mend and patch is an age old skill that used to be second nature, but now it's a lot easier for people to go out and buy a new pair of jeans when they rip or a new sweater when you lose a button. Clothing has become more disposable. If you are looking for an economical approach to saving your favorite jeans or are comfortable with a needle and thread then learning simple mending will not only extend the life of your clothing but keep the money in your pocket.

Can you believe that Home Economics is not even taught in many high schools? The value of home care is just not a value anymore. I think it's sad. Things like mending are important, in my opinion, not only to the busy 50 hours a week career person, but also the stay at home spouse.

So, what are some simple mending you should know? I'm not asking you to learn how to darn socks, although that would be useful if you buy the higher quality ones anyway, what about sewing on a button or repairing a rip in jeans? What about repairing a snag in a sweater?

Sew On a Button

All you need is a needle and matching thread, as well as the button and this is a simple task that anyone can do. Follow the steps below to reattach a button. Your button can have two or four buttonholes or can be attached from underneath by one clasp - the steps remain the same.

  1. Choose a button if the original is missing. Look for the pack of spares that some manufacturers provide, or buy one that matches the other buttons on the garment.
  2. Cut a piece of thread about 1.5 ft long (elbow to wrist) and thread the needle.
  3. After the thread is through the eye hole, move the needle to the middle of the thread and fold the thread in half. Tie a knot in the bottom of the thread, tying the two threads together. Create another knot so that the end is doubly secure.
  4. Place the button on the garment where you intend to reattach it. You can place a toothpick under the button so that you can create the necessary slack.
  5. From under the material, push the needle up through one of the holes in the button and pull the thread all the way through till the knot anchors on the back of the fabric.
  6. Push the needle down through the next hole and pull through the fabric.
  7. Repeat steps 5 and 6 at least 3 times more until the button feels secure and each hole has multiple strands through it.
  8. On the bottom of the garment, tie the thread in a double knot, securing the button in place.

Patch Jeans

Sure it's cool to have jeans with manufactured rips and tears in it for young people, but I know we could all benefit from learning how to patch holes and rips in all sorts of fabrics. I know the crotch area of my pants wears before everything else, so I like to patch these areas and get more life out of my clothing. I keep a pair of old jeans around just to cut patches from.

These instructions are not to patch with an iron-on patch, as it won't hold as long since it's only attached with adhesive. I don't like iron on patches for this reason. This is the hand sewn directions.

  1. Cut a piece of fabric about one inch larger all the way around than the size of the hole you are patching. If' it's a material like jeans or a pattern, try to match the pattern or line and shade of the jeans as best as possible for an invisible patch.
  2. Fold 1/4 inch down on all sides and iron it down. This is the back of the patch. It will hide the edges of your patch when you sew it on.
  3. Pin the patch in place, folded sides under, or use fabric glue and glue the patch down over the top of the hole in the jeans. Make sure at this time that the patch is lined up with the grain of the fabric or that the pattern is matched well.
  4. Thread a needle with a long-length color-coordinated thread. You will need a thread that matches either the patch color or the garment color. The thread should be cut long enough that you can double the thread to tie the two ends of the thread together to form a knot (like you read about above in the button instructions). Usually, a 2-foot length of thread will give you enough to start sewing the patch without the danger of the thread becoming tangled as you sew.
  5. Position the needle on the outer edge of the patch from the underside of the garment. You need to be as close to the edge as possible.
  6. Push the needle through the fabric and patch and pull all the way through till the knot anchors in the fabric.
  7. Push the needle back down through the fabric and patch in a tiny stitch about the size of a grain of rice and pull all the way through on the underside of the fabric.
  8. Continue sewing all the way around the patch until it is secured.
  9. Knot the thread and trim excess.

Repair a Snag in a Sweater

A snag in a sweater needs to be repaired as soon as you see it to prevent it from getting bigger. If it's a large hole you should take it to a professional to reweave, but if it's just a loose strand or small snag you can keep the sweater from unraveling further with this repair.

You will need a small crochet hook, usually around a size 5 to help you in this mending project.

  1. Insert the crochet hook from the back of the garment to the front at the site of the snag. Use the hook to pull the loose yarn to the back of the sweater being careful not to tug on them too much.
  2. Turn the garment inside out.
  3. Use the crochet hook to create a loop out of the loose yarn and pull the threads through to make a knot in the yarn. You can also hand tie them into a knot as long as you don't tug on them too hard and cause the sweater to pucker in front.
  4. Dab the end of the loose yarn with liquid ravel preventer (sold under the brand name Fray Check), available at fabric and hobby stores. In a pinch, you can use a small dab of clear nail polish instead.
  5. Once the ravel preventer is dry turn the sweater right side out again and gently stretch it in the area of the repair to smooth out any bunching or puckering that the snag may have created.

I hope these simple tasks get you started in preserving your clothing and keeping the hard earned money in your pocket. Tasks like these are vital to keeping alive and could save your favorite skirt in an emergency.