How to make your clothes last longer

There are a number of things that you can do to keep your clothes in good condition for longer. And when they do start falling apart, there's Sophie's mending masterclass with advice on how to repair them. But first Here’s our top 10 tips:

  • Don’t leave your clothes in a pile on the floor. Hang them, fold them or put them in a wash-basket.
  • Store them away from moths, moisture and sunlight.
  • Use plastic, wooden or cloth covered hangers. Metal ones can rust and stain clothes.
  • Wash your whites, colours and darks separately (but wait till you have a full load).
  • Wash at 30 degrees. It will prolong the life of your clothes and uses much less energy.
  • Don’t wash things unnecessarily. A good airing may be all your clothes need.
  • Find out how hard the water is in your area. This will help you gauge how much detergent you need. Using too much may damage your clothes over time.
  • Avoid using a dryer. Dryers fade colours quicker than the sun, shrink your clothes and hike up your energy bills.
  • Removing clothes as soon as a wash is done will stop them from wrinkling and save you needing to use an iron.
  • Or you can de-wrinkle clothing while in the shower. The hot steam will work a treat to smooth them out.

To not only make clothes last longer to repair, add quality and sparkle we have enlisted costume designer Sophie Barclay for her hints and tips. Over to Sophie. 

Mending a jumper at a Repair Cafe event in Amsterdam

Mending a jumper at a Repair Cafe event in Amsterdam

Sophies mending masterclass

Sophie Barclay has sewn many a pocket and patched a fair few pairs of jeans in her time. As a freelance costume designer and maker, she has become her friends' first choice when their clothes are in need of a quick fix. But she assures me that there's nothing too sophisticated going on  “Anyone can do this – it’s fun and it’s easy. I do it in front of the TV!”

Most mending jobs can be done by hand, but you will need a few basic tools to hand. Your basic sewing kit should include:

  • A selection of needles

  • A range of different coloured threads

  • Sewing scissors

  • Pins and pin cushion

  • A tape measure

It's also good to have a collection of materials and accessories stashed away so you've always got something to work with. So if something's completely worn out, make sure you salvage any buttons, zippers and decorative trim before you get rid of it.

Tricks of the trade

Ready to start? Use these tips and tricks to make sure your repair goes smoothly.

  • Study the garment before you repair it to see how to match the buttons, thread and stitch pattern.
  • A clever trick for threading your sewing needle: stiffen the thread end by moistening it and rolling it back and forth between your thumb and forefinger. This will make it easier to push the thread through the eye of the needle.
  •  Know your sew-through buttons from your shank buttons.
  • Match your stitches to the stitch design of other buttons.
  • Buttons should be sewn on loosely to allow for the overlapping garment layer containing the buttonholes. And be sure to wrap the thread tightly around the shank that has been created between the button and the cloth to keep it strong and tight.
  • Stitch through each pair of button holes three to eight times, depending on how much stress the button will receive.
  • Before cutting & hemming - Let the garment hang for a day to let the fabric settle.
  • Cut straight - Draw on your clothes with some chalk. This will also make hemming easier.
  • Press as you go - Lift an iron up and down (rather than sliding it back and forth) to help keep folds flat and in place.
  • Trim away excess thread below knots.

If you're still struggling and don't have a professional costume designer on hand to help, check out these video tutorials for some extra help. Happy mending! 

Photo: Alexander. Mussard, Creative Commons