REPAIR THE DAMAGE

Tips to up your repairing game
Many fast-fashion fanatics console themselves with the idea that they can donate damaged items or clothes they no longer wear, but that isn't quite the get-out clause you might think. Despite good intentions, approximately 85% percent of donated clothes end up in landfill. In fact, a garbage truck full of clothes goes to waste EVERY SECOND — count to sixty and think about that!

Repairing and repurposing are vital tools in keeping fabric waste out of landfill. That doesn't have to mean walking around in a mutant pair of jeans constructed from five different shades of denim — though it certainly could! — but it might mean getting another year or two out of your favourite jeans when the zip breaks.
Wearing visibly-repaired clothes often has negative connotations with a lack of wealth, and society is still a little stuck on that 'money equals worth' idea. But there is another issue here: some people simply don't feel confident approaching a piece of clothing with a needle and thread, or worse — a sewing machine!

The reality is, many people don't have even basic repair skills, or the mindset, opportunity, or equipment to have a go. 59% of people claim that they are not able to sew confidently, if at all, with 23% unable to sew on a button.

If you are familiar with the basic 'needle in … needle out' principle of sewing, hearing 'I can't sew' might seem like laziness. But not everyone has a sewing kit, let-alone a sewing machine. For a third of those surveyed, part of the problem was that they simply hadn't ever been shown how to sew.

If we are going to keep our clothes going for longer, we all need to normalize repair and repurposing, and provide people with opportunities to learn how to do it. A change of mindset is where we need to start.

With the advent of fast, cheap, clothing, the only people who needed to know how to sew were aspiring designers. But if everyone repaired just one item instead of replacing it with something new, that could save millions of items of waste. To make that happen, we need to arm everyone with the confidence to replace a button or stitch up a hole. We need to share our skills and make it a part of mainstream education. In all my years at school, despite being taught plenty of theory, I was never asked to try to repair something that was broken.
Circular fashion, clothes repairing, tailoring, sustainable fashion, sewing clothes, learning to sew
Image by Angela Bailey
Circular fashion, clothes repairing, tailoring, sustainable fashion, sewing clothes, learning to sew
Image by Toa Heftiba
Tips to help you improve your clothes-repair skills:

Try 'Thrift Flipping'

Do you have an item that you like but you feel is outdated? Have you been thinking about whether it is time to replace it? Wait! First, hang it up in front of you and stare at it for a while, thinking about ways you could update your item. If you have a nice coat with an outdated collar, could you make a few adjustments to fit current trends? Check out this video for more ideas.

Creativity is necessary here, as is bravery. Don't tell yourself you can't. You can.

Do or dye
Have you got something boring or faded that you aren't wearing? Got an old pair of sun-faded Toms somewhere? Grab a little pot of fabric dye and have a go at giving them a second life.

Make a repair pile
When a button pops off in the morning, it can sometimes be hard to set aside time to make repairs straight away. My sewing machine lives at the back of a cupboard, so getting it out requires some planning. Get a 'repair pile' going for anything that needs fixing. Every time a button falls off or a stain won't shift, stick it in the bag until it's full. Then, take a couple of hours to do all the repairs at once. It's much easier this way, because it can get messy and you only need to tidy up once.
Make something new
If you have something that didn't survive your repair attempt and it's not good enough for a charity shop, think about what type of fabric it is - could you use it for decorating, a cushion cover, a gift wrap? Or perhaps give it another life as a cloth or rag.

For those who don't have the time or inclination to repair items themselves, Repair Cafes are popping up all over the place. They are a great way to share skills and inspire all kinds of repair. You simply bring your items along and get help or advice from experienced repairers.

If you really change your mindset to think 'repair before replace' you can save money and the planet.
Article by Louise Skeats
Main image by Olesia Buyar