A couple of months ago, I had a revelation while visiting an 80-something-year-old friend of mine. She had seen holes in my sweater, so pulled out her sewing basket and promptly sewed them all up, which took all of 20 minutes. My sweater — which was a splurge for me at $150 — was as good as new.
It made me think: how many of us even have a sewing basket anymore?
In this era of cheap fabric and retailers racing to churn out the latest trends, there’s not a lot of motivation to repair or maintain our clothes – especially when you can buy a new shirt for the same price as a bottle of laundry detergent. Knowing how to repair and take care of clothes is a lost art – but it’s something we should all know how to do. Not only can it save us money, it’s a more sustainable way to live. So in honour of my octogenarian friend (thanks Elaine!) I’ve put together a list of four basic skills we should all have for taking care of our clothes.
1. Darn a sock
My grandma used to darn socks once a week while watching TV. Instead of tossing your socks when they get a bit worn, put them in your sewing basket for a quick fix while you’re catching up on episodes of Game of Thrones. This handy picture guide shows how to do it. You can also use your darning techniques to sew holes in your sweaters and knits.
2. De-pill a sweater
Don’t let a few pills send you out to the store looking for a new sweater. Use can get rid of pills in one of four ways: scissors, a sweater comb, a sweater stone or a sweater shaver. This cute how-to video shows you the right way to do it.
3. Sew on a button
It’s not rocket science but there is an art to sewing on a button so that it doesn’t fall off again. If you’re like me and haven’t sewn a button in years, check out this article and learn how to do it properly.
4. Clean your shoes
Before you put your winter boots and shoes away, make sure you’ve given them a good cleaning. Get rid of dirt and salt using a cotton cloth or a shoe brush (or even a toothbrush) and put some polish or leather conditioner on them so that they’re in good shape when you need them again in fall. If the heel or sole is looking worn or shabby, get them repaired rather than tossing them and getting a new pair.
Money expert Caroline Cakebread has been writing for Chatelaine.com since 2006. She is a recovering academic and the mother of two small kids. She lives in Toronto where she writes and reads about all things financial. Follow Caroline at Twitter.com/ccakebread.