Living with Less: Simple Sewing Repairs
Living in the Spain for the last little while has taught me a lot about living with less. We only brought two suitcases and four backpacks, which may sound like a lot, but sure doesn’t feel like it when you start packing your whole life into them. A lot of difficult decisions needed to be made. We were weighing and reweighing our bags so many times that at the last minute, to make up for adding toothpaste and facewash, I took out two of the only sweaters I had packed. I have no excuse except packing fatigue and nerves the day before leaving. Once we got here I went thrifting and found some sweaters that are super warm. I’m wearing one right now!
Living With Less
Living with less means that each article of clothing is 1. getting a lot of wear and 2. very valuable. So when one of my cardigans got a hole in the sleeve and one of Jackson’s favorite flannels (though they are all his favorite) ripped, I decided to fix them.
Now, I’ll admit I’m not a total beginner with sewing. I made an apron in home economics class in middle school and even made a quilt a few years ago- quite the resume, I know. But if you can thread a needle, you can do basic fixes like this!
Why fix your clothes?
Even if you aren’t living abroad with only a few sweaters, it’s worth trying to extend the life of your clothes. The fast fashion world is something that I’m trying to divest from eventually, but if you’ve done any research on the matter, you know it can be difficult and expensive.
It’s no secret that the clothing industry produces insane amounts of waste. And the whole system is set up to be cheap enough that you keep replacing things and buying more. Below is a table from the epa.gov website showing the extent of the waste. Especially note the first and last section for generation vs. landfilled. And that’s in thousands of tons.
It’s not helpful or healing to guilt and shame yourself or others for buying ‘fast fashion’.
Most of my clothes are not sustainable (yet!) and I’m not sharing this to pass any sort of judgment. I am sharing this because I think it’s important to be an informed consumer. Our power as a consumer lies in where we spend our money. The more we know about this system, the closer-up we get to it, the harder it can be to participate in. This has certainly been the case for me anyway.
In the meantime, how can we extend the life of the clothing we currently have?
Simple Sewing Repairs
Whether it’s a hole in a sweater, a ripped pocket on your jeans or worn away socks there is a video tutorial out there to help you fix it.
I started by trying to darn the hole in my sweater. This is a technique I’ve had success with for my wool socks, but it didn’t translate well to the thin material of my cardigan. So I tried a hybrid of a few videos to fill the hole.
Here are a few that I watched: This video for darning (starting at around 4:30), but could honestly be used for meditation or falling asleep. This is more what I ended up using though. And I’m tucking this video away for chunkier sweaters in the future.
How I had a perfect match for thread from this tiny sewing kit truly mystifies me, but I was delighted.
Fixing the flannel was a little easier with just pinning the fabric how I wanted it and sewing a whipstitch on the underside. Since the fabric is darker and the location is less obvious, it’s more forgiving.
In the End…
I finished this post, but came back to write this last piece. What I’ve talked about above is not an easy change for me. I love clothes and I enjoy shopping. Many of the ethical clothing companies I’ve found are only online, which takes some of the joy of trying on new things away. I wonder, does it really make an impact on the production cycle if I just buy a little less or more sustainably? Or is it way too small in the grand scheme of things? This isn’t a call for you (or me) to quit shopping or to feel guilty about your choices.
This is a nudge and conversation for recognizing our part in a system and intentionally finding our place in it.
Where are you at with this? Do you have ideas for me, or companies you’ve found that align with these intentions? What resonates, what doesn’t?
I’d love to hear from you.