Sewing Experts Share Easy-To-Use DIY Tools That'll Save You A Trip To The Tailor

It’s way easier to mend a garment or get a stain out than you think.
Westend61 via Getty Images

When your softest sweater gets a hole or your favorite jeans start to fray, you may be overcome with grief and assu you need to retire it from your closet. Yet, Kelsey Garner, sewing content creator and founder of handmade clothing line K.S. Garner urges you to think twice before ditching your beloved apparel.

“The initial reaction to a damaged garment is to toss it out, but mending is an easy task and prevents clothing from entering the landfill,” Garner told HuffPost.

Cat Walshak, owner and facilitator of Sew + Sew Studio in Philadelphia adds that building a lasting wardrobe isn’t just only intentional shopping, it’s about maintaining your clothing the more you wear it.

“Withstanding the test of time might be less about the quality of the garments bought versus how they are cared for once you get them home,” Walshak told HuffPost. “Understand how different fabrics need to be laundered for longevity. Address any issues of tearing or holes sooner than later. [And] understand how different fabrics need to be laundered for longevity.”

To get started, Annemarie Hereford, a sewing content creator and founder of upcycling clothing line, Chance by Annemarie reccomends learning some simple hand-sewing techniques like re-attaching a button or hem pants. And while knowing some home repair tips can help you extend the life of your clothes, Hereford also reccomends getting acquainted with a local seamstress or tailor, for extra, extra longevity. “This will be a valuable relationship. They will be able to masterfully adjust and repair your garments, which is totally worth it for pieces that you plan to have for a long time,” Hereford told HuffPost.

To keep your favorite items in wearable condition for years and years, Garner, Walshak, Hereford and other sewing experts break down everything they recommend for maintain and fixing your clothes at home.

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A knit picker
Kelsey Garner, founder of handmade clothing line K.S. Garner, recommends grabbing a knit picker, "which fixes snags in knitwear," she said. Though it may look like a seam ripper, this handy tool has a tiny latch hook that corrects snags by pulling them through your garment.
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Fabric glue
If you're really in a rush or need to fix something in a funky place on the garment, Stella Singleton, owner of Needles & Bolts, a quilt shop and haberdashery in Philadelphia, recommends keeping some fabric glue around as well. "Fabric glue is great for quick fixes like reattaching loose seams, securing hems or fixing small tears in fabric where sewing may not be practical," she said.
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Patches, patches, patches
"The timing when choosing to mend an item makes all the difference," Emily Coleman, studio director of Butcher's Sew Shop in Philadelphia told HuffPost. "Patching or reinforcing thinning material is way easier than closing a hole that has zero infrastructure left to hold the repair in place."

Paul Chevallier, sewing content creator and founder of handmade clothing line Toofbush agrees, saying, " If you've got little rips or holes or worn-down areas, it might be worth it to do a little patching. Even iron-on patches can stop a hole or worn area from spreading into a big rip."

Both Coleman and Chevallier are fans of visible mending, and encourage you to embrace your creativity and style as you put on patches or repair your favorite items. "This is an opportunity to make your garments one of a kind. This type of intentionality in mending will not only honor the clothes you choose to wear by using fun and beautiful techniques to give them a second breath of life," Coleman said.
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A fabric shaver
If you wear a lot of sweaters, Garner recommends keeping a fabric shaver around. "A fabric shaver is one of my favorites. It shaves off the piling on a sweater to make it look new again," she said.
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Stitch Witchery
For another easy fixing, Singleton recommends Stitch Witchery, an iron-on tape that sticks two pieces of fabric together. This can be great for fixing holes in your shirts or quick hemming.
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Try to hand wash and air dry
Garner, Singleton and Chevallier all stress that overwashing your clothing can cause it to break down sooner. Garner recommends hand washing your clothes with a gentle, clear soap when you can and Singleton recommends spot-cleaning stains instead of washing your whole garment.

Annemarie Hereford, founder of upcycling clothing line, Chance by Annemarie says to think of your dryer as a mosh pit. "It’s probably the most traumatic thing your clothes will go through," she said. "It’s going to make your life harder, but air-drying your clothes will dramatically increase their lifespan."

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Switch to wool dryer balls
If you do need something to go in the dryer, or if using the dryer just makes more sense for your lifestyle, Singleton and Coleman both recommend ditching any fabric softeners or dryer sheets. "Contrary to popular belief, fabric softeners are not great for your garments or the environment. They tend to leave a film on garments making them magnets for dirt and oils," she said. Coleman adds that fabric softeners and dryer sheets change the texture of your garments too.

Their fix? Swap to wool dryer balls, which eliminate static, soften your clothes, help clothes dry faster and are reusable. If you miss the lingering scent of dryer sheets, "You can lightly scent them with essential oils to freshen your laundry as it dries," Singleton said.
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Throw in some dye-trapping sheets
When you do have to run the wash, both Singleton and Coleman recommend using Shout ColorCatcher sheets. "Toss a few in the wash when you think the garment color might run and you’ll ensure you don’t turn your underpants pink," Singleton said.

"If I have bright colors in my wash I always throw in a color catcher to absorb any dye/pigment that might leach out and be reabsorbed into other clothes. Color sort your clothes when washing, particularly reds, whites and blacks," Coleman said.
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Embrace the garment bag and upgrade your hangers
Singleton says to "store clothes in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight to prevent fading and discoloration." She recommends using breathable cotton storage bags to protect clothes from dust and moths. Garner suggests storing any natural fibers out of the sunlight and in garment bags as well.

To avoid shoulder bumps or misshaping your clothes, Singleton says to upgrade to padded hangers and to opt for folding for any knits or sweaters.
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Add some cedar planks
To prevent moisture, smells and bugs from interacting with your clothes, Walshak recommends using cedar closet accessories. These will give your clothes a gentle, fresh smell and will help protect them for years to come.
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A sewing kit
Not to be obvious, but if you're going to be doing easy hand-sewing repairs, you're going to need a sewing kit. "Address any issues of tearing or holes sooner than later. Most issues can be resolved with a needle and thread and knowing a couple hand stitch techniques. When in a pinch, dental floss can be substituted, Cat Walshak, owner and facilitator of Sew + Sew Studio said.

Singleton says a basic sewing kit should contain "needles, thread in various colors, and a small pair of scissors is essential for repairing loose hems, missing buttons, or small tears." She also recommends keeping safety pins, a seam ripper and a pair of small scissors. (Which are all contained in this pictured kit.)

For quick repairs on the go, Singleton recommends keeping a few of the super small and basic kits (like the ones hotels give away). "[I keep] one in the car, one in my tote bag and one in my office desk, if possible," she said.

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