Thursday, September 25, 2008

Mend your clothes - and keep wearing them.

Why not mend your clothes, instead of throwing them away? It's better for the environment (fabric production contributes to a great deal of environmental pollution) less wasteful, and heads us away from being a disposable culture.

A cheap sewing machine costs $70 (roughly equal to two new pairs of jeans) and while it won’t be a great machine, it’ll get the job done. That machine will last for years and years of light duty, and if it prolongs the life of your clothing, then eventually it’ll more than pay for itself. If you spend a little more and get one that does automatic darning, you can mend your clothes so well that the repairs barely show. You can buy sewing machines used off of eBay if you’d like. Often you can get working sewing machines from yard sales, or craigslist, freecycle or from elderly relatives. If you are looking to invest in a better machine, please go to a sewing machine store, one that offers free lessons. I got a Janome HT2008 for $350. (If you think that's expensive - I saw one in the store that cost $8K).

Unfortunately, there are some careers where it's just not appropriate to wear mended clothing. Corporate executives cannot, and there are certainly many other careers where mended clothing cannot be worn. If you are in that situation, why not mend the clothes yourself and wear them during off hours? Or if you don't want to sew (in which case, buying a machine would be silly), then you can pay someone else to mend your clothing. You can usually find someone to do mending or alterations at your local dry cleaner. This contributes to the local economy and supports small businesses, without adding another sewing machine to a landfill. If you just cannot wear the clothing once it's been mended, (who would want to wear a suit off hours?) then donate the mended clothing to Goodwill or the like.

However, if you ARE in a job or career that doesn't preclude mended clothes, be proud of your mended clothes and don’t be afraid to wear them out of the house.

I just learned how to mend my husband’s jeans. If you’re interested, I blogged about the experience here. Though after mending 6 pairs of jeans, I’m pretty sick of it!

And for those even more ambitious, there’s a trend among sewers to rework old clothes into something new and unique (a practice called "upcycling"). Here's some reading to get you going:

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