Sunday, September 30, 2012

Get Your Sew On; Old School Style!

The boring 'R' in the being environmental has always been 'Reduce'. I love shopping, but interestingly enough, since I've gone 'Eco' I have a difficult time buying crappy, made in China clothing (byebye Lululemon) and have become extremely fussy about what I will pay big bucks. Also, most of my clothing needs to do double duty as work clothes.

This means that I generally use my clothing right up until they are unusable and that I typically buy clothing that is higher quality, more professional looking and costs more. Which is why it baffles me that there are so many people out there who can donate almost unused, designer labels to local designer consignment boutiques. All my consignable clothing is still being worn by moi!

In our disposable world, taking care and fixing our clothing is a complete paradigm shift. We're so used to throwing it out, or even donating to Value Village or a women's shelter, at the smallest hole or stain that the thought of taking the time to sew just seems... well like wearing subpar clothing. I *like* shiny new clothes, so having something that's 'damaged' and being happy with it is an adjustment.

That and I suck at sewing.
(my tiny little sewing kit that folds up into a box for easy storage!)

A couple of years ago, thought, I got this really tiny travel sewing kit as a Yulemas gift (my mom may have made the suggestion to my Tante that I needed one... lol). Since I am so not crafty and have zero compunction to actually SEW stuff, I have never considered getting an actual sewing machine. Too much hassle and we really have no place to store it. And they intimidate the heck outta me.

But a needle and a thread? Sure... I guess I can handle that.
(A funky sweater jacket I had bought in 2007 in Edmonton. The bottom was completely stretched out and wavy so I hardly ever wore it. Tonight I decided to hand take in the sides and see what happened)

(Not perfect, but soooo much better!)

(You can barely see where I took it in on both sides!!)

(This was a brandnew sweater I had bought from Club Monaco... that randomly had a fingerpad sized hole on the arm, not even on a seam. Yes you can see the stitching- which was crappy, way way up close, but from a regular distance you can't see a thing! Success!)

Wouldn't you know, there have been at least a dozen items of clothing that have randomly been ripped, hems come undone, random holes appearing, that I've been able to sew up to barely noticeable levels.

The stitches may look a little drunken sailor, but honestly for the most part they are hardly noticeable. Unlike a ginormous hole showing skin, or a pant hem that has completely unstitched. Who looks closely at the cuff of my pantleg to check out the stitching anyway?

Here are a few things I've learned in this sewing journey:

  • Those little tomato pin cushions that look ridiculous? Yeah, they're kinda essential. I mean, where are you gonna stick the needle while you get stuff situated? Those little reminders of your grand-mère are so darn handy to keep needles away from being accidentally stuck into a body part or eaten by cats. 
  • I can see why my grand-mère wore thimbles to protect her thumbs and fingers. I have stuck my fingers a zillion times. Since I suck at sewing, and have zero patience, I kinda just guess where the needle should go instead of constantly double checking each side. A thimble would have been helpful.
  • Cutting the thread on an angle is genius. This allows you to squeeze the thread through the stupidly small needle hole so much easier. 
  • As does wetting the thread in your mouth. I think that has more to do with keeping the thread bits together. I'm not sure, but it totally works and is kinda icky.
  • Saving the threat and buttons that comes with pants and shirts is a fantastic idea. I am now a thread and button hoarder....

So, the next time you notice a hole in your (yoga) clothing, consider picking up a needle and thread and fixing it yourself instead of buying a new pair. Who knows, you might be able to extend the life of your clothes, save yourself some money and prevent more waste and pollution.

And feel like you're pretty darn Crafty.

Do you have any sewing tips for me? I'd really love to hear them!

article copyright of EcoYogini at


  1. Nice work! I've been trying to sew more and more. I made elf dolls from scratch for my nephews last Christmas - way beyond my ability level, as I soon discovered, but they turned out great and the boys loved them! I think the more we try, the better we'll get - and it's so worth it when you can make some big improvements to clothing so easily!

  2. Nicely done! I am a novice seamstress myself--I have my mom's old sewing machine (circa late '60s). I call her Old Bossy because she can be cranky, but I love her! Since she came to live with me, she's helped me hem too-long yoga pants and make an apron for my husband. I'm with you on saving spare buttons, too!

  3. Ha I love this gal. I totally "darn" stuff rather than toss it out and take stuff to my Mom to have her take in when I start to lose weight (plus if I regain, it's always easy to undo the simple stitches). Ironically she brought her machine but forgot the cord when she came up to visit this summer, so she picked up a cheap sewing machine to leave at my place. I haven't used it yet (I know how to do basic stuff) but it's beckoning to me...I can hear it. :) And I'm thinking of a better location for it so I could maybe make a small crafting area (gasp! big step for me). We'll see how this all transpires.

  4. I am impressed! I took up sewing last year but I do very little by hand - repair (very) small tears, sew on buttons, change hems. I bought a used sewing machine for $25 and relearned how to use one (hadn't done so since my teens). It's SO much fun. I also have made a few things from scratch but I would like to be creative enough to be able to recycle "unwearable" items from charity shops bye reshaping, resizing, retrimming etc.

  5. PS I've been thinking of you...simple homemade has been doing a series on sewing. I haven't been following but it shows up in ( my newsfeed and I thought you might be interested.


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