Thursday, 9 March 2017

Making the most of your clothes: my top tips for care and repair

There's a definite perception that spending more on clothes means they will last longer, and that anything bought from a high street store will fall apart after a couple of wears and washes. But that's not always true; often a big mark-up in price means you are just paying more for the label, as many factories overseas make clothes for many different retail chains. While the low cost of budget fashion is partly achieved by forcing garment workers to make up clothes extremely quickly, so the finishes may not be especially durable, there are a few quick fixes which will enable you to get the most out of your high street clothes:

  • Loose Threads: Hems are often finished with a 'blind hemmer' machine that creates a chain-stitch on the wrong side of the garment, using only one thread. This will unravel if you pull the wrong end- great for fast unpicking, not so great if you want your hem to stay where it is! If you do notice a loose thread, either thread a needle onto it and knot it off, or if it's too short, take a needle and new thread, and stitch a couple of the loops of the 'blind hem' back to the fabric so it doesn't unravel further.

  • Buttons: they are also sometimes sewn on by machine, and the backstitch at the end of the sewing process could come loose. Again, don't pull on a loose thread unless you have a purse or pocket to keep the button in once it falls off! 
  • Remember that pot of spare buttons your mum used to keep? Now's the time to start your own; keep any spare buttons from a garment in a safe place! If a button does fall off and you don't have any identical replacements, take one from the bottom if it's a garment you wear tucked in, or from the top, and swap that button for something decorative so it looks like a feature. Alternatively, swap all the buttons for some you've chosen to give your garment a more unique look. 

  • Washing: if your lifestyle/washing facilities allow, try washing your clothes at a lower temperature and air-drying rather than putting them in a tumble dryer. If your clothes just need freshening up rather than some serious dirt removal, a quick-wash or hand-wash cycle should be sufficient. If you have clothes with metal trims, chunky zips or if you wear underwired bras, tie these items up in a pillowcase before you wash them, so the metalwork doesn't damage more delicate items. 
  • Ironing: If you're the sort of person who loves ironing, then you do you, but it's possible to eliminate quite a bit of ironing by giving your clothes a good shake while they are still wet (turn the right way out, grab by the hem and 'snap' like a waiter with a fancy tablecloth!) then hanging them to dry. 

  • Shoes: take your shoes to a cobbler if you notice signs of wear and tear on the heels; not only is this important for your posture but it will keep your shoes looking, erm, well-heeled! When the cost of a pair of shoes is less than the cost of having them mended this can seem pointless, but we shouldn't view our clothes as disposable items, and if your favourite pair of shoes is both comfortable and stylish, why would you want to replace them when you could give them a new lease of life? Don't forget to use a polish or waterproofing treatment to make sure your shoes can deal with the changeable spring weather! 

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