The longer we can extend the life of our wearable garments, the more we reduce our environmental impacts. Sometimes, a simple DIY repair is all it takes.
Fast fashion has dramatically shifted our relationship with clothing. The cheap, low quality and disposable clothing we have become accustomed to has made us far less likely to attempt repairs.
Cost: Low price tags make it easier and more cost effective to purchase something new than have an item repaired
Skill: Fewer people have the knowledge or ability to repair clothing themselves
Meaning: We have less of an emotional attachment to the clothes we own because they are viewed as disposable
When we invest in quality made, ethical and sustainable clothing, we are more likely to repair them when a button falls off or a hem comes undone. This is because we have more of an appreciation for how much work goes into the garment and what the true cost is. Learning to make small repairs will save you money, but even paying a tailor has its benefits if it means you don’t have to buy replacement pieces. A little love and effort does make our clothing last longer.
Try to stay on top of little repairs and perform preventative maintenance. Catch holes when they are small, snip small pills off of sweaters, treat stains immediately or reinforce buttons before they fall off.
Creative hacks and DIY instructions for fixing common damages can be found with a quick Google or Youtube search. Some examples include learning the basics of mending a seam, patching a hole, darning a hole, sewing on a missing button, fixing a fallen hem or mending a broken zipper.
You can also learn tips and techniques for preventing damage including waterproofing certain fabrics and how to properly care for your clothes in the first place so they don’t require repair. This is actually a really important part of this R – Care. Because how we treat our clothes and how often we wash them also goes a long way to keeping them in use for longer. So get to stains right away, hang your clothes up at the end of the day and don’t throw them on the floor or in the laundry hamper if not really dirty (or smelly).
In addition to online tutorials, consider participating in a local repair café to acquire some basics or taking a course at a community sewing hub to learn your way around a sewing machine. If you live in the City of Toronto, they offer Sewing Repair Hubs, as part of their Community Reduce & Reuse Programs. Check with your local municipality to see if they offer something similar.
If DIY’ing is really not for you, support local tailors and shoe repair businesses before you toss those clothes in the trash.