Mending Kit: A simple sewing kit for basic mending

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When you are new to sewing it can be a little overwhelming knowing where to start or what to stock your sewing box with. Mending your existing clothing can be a great place to begin learning basic sewing skills, before you are game to tackle a whole garment for yourself. Learning the basics of mending is the simplest and most cost effective way to improving the sustainability of your wardrobe. The longer you can wear the clothes you already own, the less resources and money are used up by clothing you! But if you have never mended before, you may lack the basic equipment needed to enable you to do small mending jobs. Here are my suggestions for what you should stock in your sewing kit so you can get started on mending:

1. Pins and needles:

  • A set of hand sewing needles will do for most mending jobs
  • A darning (yarn needle) will enable you to mend woolens and socks
  • A set of dressmaking pins will help to pin up hems whilst you restitch them
  • A big safety pin (which is useful for pulling elastic through a hem)

2. Assorted threads

  • Basic sewing thread in assorted colours. At a minimum you should have black, white, brown and grey, and any other colour that you wear a lot of
  • Embroidery thread in assorted colours. Choose colours that feature strongly in your wardrobe. This thicker thread is useful for repairing holes and tears that are in prominent places. The thicker coloured thread makes it easier to repair the hole without the repair job looking too obvious. It is also useful for interesting stitching for patching up larger holes.
  • Mending wool in basic colours. This is best for darning jobs, such as large holes in socks, or moth holes in woolens. I just keep this in black to mend my socks and merino thermals. Other colours I buy if the need arises.

3. Scissors

  • A pair of fabric scissors. These should never be used for anything other than fabric (and sewing related materials, such as elastic). If you use them on paper they will be blunt and useless of cutting fabric
  • A small pair of embroidery scissors. You may be able to make do without these, but the small scissors make cutting thread close to the fabric much easier
  • A stitch unpicker. This is a small bladed tool that makes unpicking hems much easier. Very useful if you want to adjust clothing to drop a hem or take a dress in to fit you. Also useful if you make mistakes with your mending job and want to unpick and start again!

Mending Buttons

4. Buttons and Trim

  • A collection of buttons in assorted sizes and colours. Always keep the spare buttons that come with your garments so you can easily mend a lost button if needed. Also keep the buttons from old clothing that is worn out- often the fabric is only good for rags, but the buttons can usually be reused for other garments. Also, collect interesting vintage buttons and handmade buttons that you come across- changing the buttons on a garment is the easiest way for you to personalise it. See Mend and Make Do: Simple Button Revamp for some ideas
  • Bias binding in assorted colours. Bias binding is often used for the edging on clothing as an alternative to a hem. It is a bit like ribbon, which folds well over the edge of a garment to give it a coloured trim. It is very useful to use it in mending if the hem or neckline is looking a bit worn and faded. Sewing some bias binding in matching or contrasting colour can give a garment a new look and extend it’s use by a few more years. If possible, look for organic cotton bias binding, which will be easiest to find online.
  • Elastics. This you can buy on an as needs basis, to redo the waist on skirts when the elastic has lost it’s stretch. Remove the elastic from your skirt to work out what length and width you need to buy.

5. Fabric & Felt

  • Keep small pieces of fabric scrap for making interesting patches on garments that have a hole in them. You can collect the fabric from worn clothes, if parts of the garment are in good condition. I like to buy assorted scraps from vintage kimonos, which make for beautiful patches to liven up an old t-shirt. They also make lovely fabric covered buttons.
  • Felt is also useful for feature patches. I use eco felt made from recycled plastic bottles

Scraps from vintage kimonons

With these few basic supplies, you will be able to tackle most mending jobs, which can all be done by hand. There is no need to have a sewing machine to get stuck into mending. These supplies will also enable you to add your own personal touch to plain garments, such as adding some applique features or some simple embroidery. If you need help to get started, keep an eye out for my regular Repurpose Round-Up and Mend & Make Do columns, which you can find under the Slow Fashion DIY Tutorials section of the site.

Good luck with your mending. Leave me a comment if you have any questions, or suggestions for Mend & Make Do article topics.


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