One of the best skills I learnt at school was to mend clothes.  Sure, I don’t have to darn lisle stockings or woolen socks these days but I could if I had to.  I can take up hems, sew on buttons, mend small tears, turn the frayed collars on shirts so you get another year out of them, ditto with worn cuffs, alter clothes to make them more fashionable and to suit a changing figure. 

At that point, my mother would have cut toddlers’ clothes (pants etc.) from old cashmere coats, made woolen nappy covers from pure wool garments and used pretty, small scraps of Liberty print for patchwork.  The latter was never done with BOUGHT fabric as patchwork was all about recycling in the old days.

Bits of fabric that would go nowhere were used as cleaning cloths.  With old, torn  sheets, my mother would re-hem them, sometimes with embroidery, and recycle as handkerchiefs and they would go in the copper to bleach and sterilize.  Worn towels were cut up, re-sewn to make bath-mats, then cleaning rags.  NOTHING was tossed until it was in shreds.

Just remember that you can give your clothes an entirely new, stylish look in an hour  by:

  • Replacing buttons with huge, contrasting coloured ones (and re-stitching the enlarged button holes in that same contrasting colour).
  • Blanket stitching all around the edges.
  • Making a crocheted embellishment (scalloped) the same length as the edge of your coat or cardigan and carefully stitching it on.  Pucci coats in pastel pink and blue had this scalloped wool edge back in the 1960s (Quant style).
  • Cutting the sleeves off small T-shirts and replacing with gathered lace or light voile.  Easy!

So think about recycling your own old clothes before you heave them out.  If you must throw them out, clean them before taking to the op-shop.  Note, it’s a good green idea to keep a box in your car to store this stuff.  Then you just have to drop into the op-shop rather than making a special trip.

What other tips and changes do you make to make your clothes last longer? Let us know!

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