When you wear a pair of size 8 pants and are occasionally size 10 rather than size 8 when you wear them, that tends to pull at the fastener at the waist. (I have size 10s but when I’m size 10 I also generally don’t have time to do laundry.)
Even when one isn’t busting out at the seams, occasionally a shirt button will pop off, or a skirt seam will start unraveling.
When this happens, you have three choices.
1. You can get rid of the now imperfect item of clothing, sending it to goodwill, turning it into a rag, or just tossing it.
2. You can set it aside and deal with it later, at which point it will probably be out of fashion or no longer your size (then: see 1)
3. You can mend it. (Related: you can sort of mend it using safety pins rather than thread, or duct tape, or superglue. Or that double-sided mending tape, or stitch witch.)
Mending seems (seams!) to be a lost art. But it is one well-worth learning. You really only need to learn about three things to do basic mending, and only one if you want to stick to reattaching buttons. That’s two basic stitches and how to put on a button. Sure, you can learn basting and hemming and other fancier stitches, and you could even learn how to use a sewing machine and do your own alterations or make your own clothing. But that gets time consuming and complicated.
In my old age, I’ve had to use the needle threader to thread needles. These are the little silvery wire-jobbers that come in a sewing kit. Stick the thin wire thing through the hole, insert thread, pull back through hole, presto! your needle is threaded. It’s like magic. I love those things!
This video demonstrates the two stitches you need, though he does the running stitch much more efficiently than I do! I actually pull it through one side then the other. His way is twice as fast.
Here’s how to sew on a button. The important thing to remember is to make sure to leave the button loose. If you sew it on too tight, you won’t actually be able to button the button! It will look pretty but be completely useless and you’ll have to cut it off and try again. I don’t actually do all that additional wrapping around he does, but it looks useful.
Once you get relatively good at mending, you can do it in front of the TV, which is a nice way to multi-task.
Learning how to mend means you get longer use out of clothing, especially when otherwise nice clothing tears or pops the first time you wear it. It means you have to spend less time shopping and keep stuff out of landfills. And it’s not actually all that difficult. Go ahead and practice– all you have to lose is something you couldn’t wear anyway, and what you have to gain is an incredibly useful skill!
I actually went without a sewing kit for a few years until recently. My sister got me one at Christmas and I’ve been mending up a storm. I’m happy to be able to wear a couple nice skirts that were no longer suitable for teaching because the slit that was supposed to go up to there went all the way up to *there*, and a few shirts have had buttons replaced and seams reattached.
#2 points out a fourth option, especially good for if you have some pants that fit great but they are too long, or some pants that you love but then the zipper breaks in a parking garage just before a conference: take several of these items that are broken or suboptimal in one way or another to a tailor, who is usually older and an immigrant. Find this person and treasure her or him. Drive to hir shop or house and get awesome work for not very much money. Do not trust your local dry-cleaners. (#1 actually gets her stuff hemmed at a bustling shop that is highly rated on Yelp and staffed by a multi-generational Hispanic family… it’s not inexpensive, but worth it on fancy pants. If your clothes are fancy or complex and you don’t want to mess them up with your meager skills, finding a place to get tailoring done is essential.)
Do you mend? Do you want to try? Or do you never rip or tear anything?