7 Basic Sewing Tricks That Will Save You Money


You know those little sewing kits you can buy at the grocery store? They're definitely worth the money when you consider how they might save your wardrobe. Back in the day, when a button would fall off a shirt or a hem would tear, it didn't always mean buying a new shirt or pants. Instead, people repaired clothing by hand to wear for years to come. (See also: Make Your Clothes Fit Perfectly With These 10 No Sew Fixes)

Here are a few invaluable mending techniques — and specific clothing fixes — that don't require a sewing machine.

Running Stitch

The running stitch (or straight stitch) is the easiest to learn, so it's worth adding to your repertoire. This stitch is basically under and over the fabric throughout the whole line of what you're stitching. You can use it to fasten most any two pieces of fabric together with good results. Under then over, under then over.

Whip Stitch

I first became familiar with a whip stitch on Grey's Anatomy. Unfortunately, I won't be showing you how to use this skill in the human body, however useful that might be. After pinning together the fabric you plan to stitch, you drive through both and whip around the edge before come up again through the bottom at the same level where you first stitch rests. Continue until you've finished your piece, then tie off.

Tie Off

Along with stitching, it's key to know how to tie off sewing projects so they'll stay strong and secure. The maneuver reminds me of making a K-turn while driving. You'll stitch up through your fabric, then back down right next to where you started — leaving some loose thread. Then one more stitch through the back that you'll resolve back down through the loop you created to tie off into a knot before cutting free.

Sew a Button

Learning how to sew a button back onto a shirt is easy. First, thread your needle so you have a double thread to work with. Use a couple straight pins to create space for a shank. Stitching from behind your fabric, work through that first button hole and then choose either a straight or cross pattern through the button a few times before winding thread around the base to create that shank. Then, stitch to the back of your fabric again and knot to fasten.

Sew a Hem

You'll find hems on most any piece of clothing you own, so it's good to know how to sew hems up when they get loose. First, iron your hem flat back to its original allowance. Then — moving from left to right — use a catch stitch to work your way diagonally down the hem to fasten. This technique works well on most thick apparel fabrics, but you can also use a straight stitch if you're more comfortable. For a super easy fix, try iron-on hemming tape, which I've use on anything from clothing items to DIY curtains.

Sew a Hole

I get tiny holes in my clothes all the time. To sew holes shut, start by matching thread to your garment. Then knot the end of your string or fix to your fabric using a few loop stitches. Working from the top of your project, sew the hole shut by moving from one side of the hole to the other. It's actually quite intuitive, you're just closing it back up again. Tie off to finish.

Patch Jeans

You can iron a patch onto jeans to fix tears and holes, but this sewn patch alternative allows you to be more creative with fabric choices. Start by measuring your hole and cut your patch so it more than covers the area. Iron the edges of the patch so they're clean, then fix it to the jeans with straight pins. Using color thread that matches the patch, start sewing from a corner with a running stitch technique until you work your way around the entire patch. Knot to finish.

What are your go-to mending techniques? Please share in comments!

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