Secondhand Series: Part 1 – Caring and Mending
Welcome back to a new blog post and a short little series to help you with secondhand items, no matter what they may be!
Whether you are shopping for clothes, accessories, or even furniture, you might need a little hand with how to pick the best items for you. But before we start with shopping: today, we will be showing you how to care for your clothes and mend them instead of replacing them.
We know that caring and mending for your clothes might not fit in your category of secondhand, but it is actually the best thing you can do in order to keep your clothes last a long time. Also, you may have swapped or thrifted a piece you absolutely fell in love with, but that unfortunately needs some work.
These tips will also be perfect to help you in the future, even if you do not currently have clothes you need mending for. So keep reading!
1- How you machine wash things, matter:
We have talked about this in the past but the way you wash your clothes is the first step to take in order to make your clothes last longer. There are a few tricks you can use to keep them nice and neat, and people will never know you’ve owned that one t-shirt for more than 5 years! The first thing is washing with cold water. It’s good for the environment, and it will prevent your clothes from shrinking and fading overtime. With that goes avoiding the dryer. Drying your clothes could have the same impact and really reduce the life of your clothing, so make sure you line dry them or hang them somewhere instead. Speaking of drying, try to not use dryer sheets or fabric softener when washing your garments. They are full of chemicals and cannot only irritate your skin but will also leave a layer on your clothes that will prevent them from lasting longer. You should also try to separate your clothes by how heavy or light they are. Washing really bulky items with details on them and combining them in the same machine as say, thin fabric tops, is a terrible idea. Those tops might end up completely ruined, so you will want to do different washes for those. Finally, do not overload your washing machine , it is very important to only fill it up to half or three quarters, so that your clothes have enough room to actually get washed.
2- Other washing tips:
If you want your clothes to last, the best thing to do is to hand-wash them. It will prevent them from shrinking, fading and you can be way more gentle that way, than a machine ever will. You might also get frustrated at how fast your clothes fade. To prevent that from happening, you might want to wash your washing machine if you can, try to use baking soda on white clothes or wash things inside out. This is especially true for patterns or anything that could be printed on your clothes! If you have a lot of denim, especially if we’re talking about raw denim, you might want to pop them into your freezer for a night and see if any of the odors are gone. We don’t recommend washing raw denim often, definitely not more than once every 3 months, even if you wear it all the time. If you do, let them soak in our bathtub, never in the washing machine. Speaking of avoiding to wash things, if you can, your best bet will be to spot clean, or air out clothes you’ve worn, to wear them again. If you don’t wash things too often, you’re helping the environment AND your garments.
3- Store your clothes properly:
One of the biggest ways to prevent your clothes from aging is to store them the right way when you are not using them for the season. First off, wash all of the clothes going into storage; you do not want to have any uncleaned clothes that will be put away for a while. Then, make sure that each piece is folded properly, most of the time in thirds is the best way. Also, do not store them in plastic bags, that could trap some moisture and in the long run, create mold on your clothes. Be very wary if you are using hangers, and which kind you are using too. Wooden hangers are bulkier and less practical, but they are the best ones to use for storage, as felt hangers can also create mold around the shoulder area. If you have limited space where you live, store your clothes in air tight plastic containers that have a lid. And please do not ever get rid of them, keep reusing! In case you might be worried some clothes will get damaged, make sure you use cedar balls to prevent holes from happening too. They are a much better alternative to moth balls and have a nice wooden smell!
4- Learn how to mend:
When something good is broken, fix it. This is the very reason why people used to be able to wear their clothes over and over again, until they really died, before fast fashion came around. Every one knew how to sew, patch a hole or darn things. Do yourself a favor and learn a few different hand stitches, like the overcast stitch, the backstitch or the running stitch. Make sure that everything you mend, you do so quickly. You do not want to wait when it comes to mending items. Also, try to not wash an item that is damaged as it could make your problem worse. A good way for your mending efforts to pay off is to choose threads that are the same color or slightly darker than your garment. After learning how to hand sew and getting familiar with how to thread a needle and other details, you can step it up a little and learn how to machine sew. It will help you fix zippers and other, bigger issues your clothes may have. If you are totally unfamiliar with how to do any of the above, we recommend reading the book Fix Your Clothes by Raleigh Briggs and you will become an expert in no time!
5- Beyond repair:
Sometimes, you will think your clothes are too damaged to be mended, or you may not be able to do it on your own. Repairing clothes can sometimes be really tricky, depending on where the damage is located on the garment, but you might not want to give that piece up! A great way to do so is to turn your items into something new. Now that you have some basic sewing skills, you can try and create your own upcycled garments by using some inspiration and imagination! You’ll see, it’s a great therapeutic exercise that will spark creativity too. However, there are times where fixing your own items might be too complicated. In this case, you can simply bring them to a professional tailor or seamstress, they might be able to bring your garments back to life! If you have any denim pieces and do not want to take them to a tailor, you could also use systems like MeWe’s Denim Repair Lab and choose your own stitches or fabrics to mend your clothes with, without having to do the work yourself! If your garment has permanent stains, a lot of holes everywhere, or ripped pieces, it might be time to let go and recycle them. Please make sure that the recycling program you are going with does recycle though, and that your clothes do not end up in landfills in the end.
What did you think of this list? Does it help you know how to care for and mend your garments from now on? Comment below!