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Mending Monday: Repairing a seam – denim

2 Jun

Mending Monday: Mending an open seamThis week I’ve done another really simple repair. I’ve got this vintage denim jacket which used to be my Mum’s from circa 1980s. It’s probably a size too small for me across the shoulders but although snug, it fits (just about) and I love it. The downside to this is the seams which take the most beating are the back shoulder/sleeve seams and over the past few years the strain has caused the stitching to open up. It’s really quick and easy to repair these seams by going over the same stitch line that has come away. One side has an actual hole (which I only just noticed) and the other has just started to come apart. Here’s the before and after of the seam with the hole:Before and AfterThere is a special stitch you can use to reinforce these seams (see image below). I use the Janome 7025 machines in all my classes and it has a straight stretch stitch which is really strong and basically like 4 stitches in place of one usual stitch. This is stitch is perfect (even on non-stretch fabrics) for seams that take a lot of strain like this one. If you don’t have this stitch on your machine a straight stitch will still do the job. I would make it slightly small than usual to make it a bit stronger so turn the stitch length down to 2 instead of the normal 2.5mm.

For the side where the seam had completely opened up:

  • Turn the jacket inside out and identify the seam which needs fixing
  • Pin together edge to edge


  • Stitch along original stitch line making sure you go over the first and last couple of stitches which are still intact to make sure you reinforce the old stitches
  • Use a zig zag stitch or overlocker to neaten off the edges

MM5Denim2When I did this and looked onto the right side I noticed the crossing seam was also coming open so I turned it back inside out marking the beginning and end point of the weakened seam with a pin to make sure I knew where to start and finish and went over this seam as well.

*Tip* When repairing 2 crossing seams it’s important to identify which seam should be stitched first. If the crossing is open you’ll be able to get in and stitch the seam right across without stopping before you stitch down the crossing seam. If you’re not sure, try looking at another crossing seam which is intact. Which has been stitched first? Whichever one was stiched last, you will stitch last. If the ‘cross roads’ is still intact then stitch in as close as you can get to the seam and back stitch.

MM5Denim3When stittching down two crossing seams ensure the seam allowances are facing the same way (usually towards the back of the garment.) This will stop the seam twisting around and help it lay flat.

I basically did the same with the other arm. Although the seam wasn’t completely open on this side, one of the seams had come apart and so I went over this row of stitching, again with the straight stretch stitch.

Here’s the before and after for that side:

MM5DenimBeforeAfter2I wear this jacket throughout the Spring and Summer months so will get a lot of wear out of this for years to come. As always, let me know if you try any of these repairs or alterations using the hashtag #mendingmonday. If you want to learn hemming, how to sew different types of buttons, taking in garments to improve fit and how to mend rips and tears, why not join our mending Club? You can book a single session or all 4 weeks. All the details are here.

Thanks for reading!

Daisy x


Mending Monday: Repairing ripped pocket seams

18 May


Yay, it’s Monday! Today’s Mending Monday is a really quick and easy one but essential nonetheless. I’ve had this tan brown wool mix coat for about 5 years now and I’ve worn it so much, it was a great buy. It’s a go to jacket that takes me through the seasons. Since I started wearing back packs more, I had a tendency to overfill the pockets and over the years the thin polyester lining started to wear at the seams. These went from small openings (where just small change would fall through to the hem) to basically the entire seam ripping open and for longer than I would like to admit, I haven’t been able to put anything in the pockets. On the odd occasion I forget, I have to fish out my oyster card or change from the inside of the lining at the bottom of the hem. It’s a relatively easy repair to do (the quick fix option) which should last me another few years at least.)

Here’s how to repair them:


  • Turn out the pocket so it’s on the outside of the jacket
  • Turn in the ripped seam so that the frayed edge is concealed and you have at least a 0.5cm seam allowance
  • Pin along the edge


  • Use an edge foot or carefully stitch using a general purpose foot close to the edge making sure you back stitch either end to secure
  • Turn back in and start filling those pockets again

The pockets will be slightly less deep than originally but this is much easier than having to unpick the coat lining and stitching from the inside (if your lining is not attached to the main fabric at the hem, you should be able to get inside the lining and stitch the pockets from the wrong side using the same method.

Get repairing those pockets! No excuses. I’m wearing this jacket tonight so will post a pic on my instagram later. Follow me @MakeThriftLDN.

Do you have any easy repairs you haven’t gotten round to doing?

See you next week! I might try something a bit different…

Daisy x

Mending Monday – Replacing worn elastic in a waistband

12 May

Ok, I put my hands up; I am bad at this. It’s not Monday, it’s Tuesday (but in the grand scheme of things, I am doing better than last week) and I’m not changing the day because I like the alliteration of Mending Monday..Mending Tuesday just doesn’t have the same ring. My plan was to spend an entire day mending different pieces and schedule these posts in every Monday for the next few weeks. I just haven’t yet found a day when I have the time to spend the whole of it stitching. I will. But for now I’m doing a weekly mend. Although I spent time mending yesterday, I didn’t quite make it to writing up this blog post. If you’re not a confident enough sewer to try these alterations or repairs at home and you live in London,  I’m starting a 4 week Mending Club next month in Shepherd’s Bush. Every Wednesday from 3rd June, for 4 weeks we will be tackling a different alteration or repair you can do at home to help revive your wardrobe or ensure those thrifted vintage and charity shop finds fit like a dream. Find out more here. So, let’s get mending:

You might be expecting a post on shortening a mac but since the weather was forecast to be so lovely this week, I decided to repair a summery skirt instead. I’ve had this vintage skirt for a few years now. I bought it at a Carboot sale for £4. It’s a pretty cheap skirt, made of polyester circa 1980s/1990s but I loved the colour, floral print and how floaty it is so I snapped it up. I wear it lots in the warmer months with tees or buttoned-up sleeveless blouses and usually a chunky leather belt. It’s a size 12 and I am a 16 (sometimes an 18) so it is a bit of a squeeze to get over my hips and when I took it out recently, as the weather is getting warmer, I realised the elastic had gone. Over time elastic deteriorates, but luckily, if it’s fed through a channel in the waistband, it can be quite simple to replace, so think twice before throwing it or sending it to a charity shop. It’s a bit trickier to replace an elastic which has been stitched on top at the waist and acts as the waistband and as that technique is much cheaper to mass produce, I’ve noticed many of the high streets creating skirts in this way, which is a shame as it makes it much trickier to repair.


So, to get started: The first thing you need to do is find where the elastic was inserted. The waistband will have a seam, usually in line with one of the skirt ‘s side seams. I made an opening here by unpicking the stitching that runs along the bottom of the elastic just an inch or so either side of the side seam so you have enough room to pull out the old elastic and feed through the new one.

MM2UnpickedseamAs my skirt was overlocked along the waistband facing (the inside flap of the waistband which lies against the body, it meant the side seam was also overlocked together so I had to snip through the overlocking as well to open this up. The quickest way to unpick overlocking is by snipping along the top set of stitches along the edge (I used some sharp snips.) To stop the rest of the stitching unravelling either side of the opening you have made, make sure you reinforce the stitches by machining on top of the first few stitches either side of the opening, being careful not to catch the elastic.

MM2reinforceSeamsMy waistband was also stitched down the middle with a running stitch (this stops the elastic twisting inside the channel) so I also had to carefully unpick this stitch all the way along. Once you’ve done this, pull out the elastic a little at the opening and snip it (as it’s joined in a circle.) Pull it from one side until it’s completely removed from the waistband.


You’re now left with a channel ready to feed your new elastic into. To make sure you use the correct size elastic, measure the width of the existing elastic and/or the waistband. I was lucky to find a pack of old elastic which was almost the exact width in my vintage sewing supplies stash and it was still good and stretchy. If you choose an elastic too wide it won’t fit through the channel and too narrow it won’t lie flat against the body and roll up like a scrunchie, so try and get as close a match as possible. To find out what length you need, take the elastic and stretch it comfortably around your waist and overlapping it by about 1cm. I made sure I could pull it over my hips comfortably and snipped off the remainder.

Once you’ve done this you’ll need to feed it through the channel of your waistband. Attach a large safety pin to one end and insert it into the opening.Photo 11-05-2015 11 12 04 Feed it along the channel, using the safety pin to give you something to grab. The channel will gather up so keep flattening it out as you move the safety pin along, until it comes out the other side. Be careful you don’t pull the other end through so make sure you hold onto it as you get near to the end. Photo 11-05-2015 11 21 43You should end up with both ends of elastic sticking out of your waistband opening. Do a final check that it’s flat and hasn’t twisted all the way along and you’re ready to attach the two ends together to create a loop.

Photo 11-05-2015 11 33 40Pin the two ends flat, matching edge to edge and set your sewing machine to a medium zigzag. The zigzag allows the elastic to give a little when it stretches, whereas a straight stitch would break.Photo 11-05-2015 11 35 20

Join the two ends of elastic close to the edge and be sure to back stitch at the beginning and end to strengthen the seam. Once you’re attached, open out the elastic so the seam lays flat (as shown) and stitch down along the seam as before, back stitching at the beginning and end.

Photo 11-05-2015 11 35 47Photo 11-05-2015 11 37 32

You can now pull the elastic taught in your waistband and it should hide up into the skirt (give it a hand if it doesn’t.) It should lay flat inside the waistband and the waistband should have a slight gather. To enclose it you just need to straight stitch along the opening you made in the waistband. Make sure not to stitch into the elastic. I also used a zigzag in place of the overlocking I unpicked, to neat the edge.

Photo 11-05-2015 11 57 36

To finish, I used a zigzag stitch along the centre of the waistband (starting and finishing at the seam) and lightly stretched out my elastic as evenly as I could as I stitched so it would ping back when the elastic is relaxed and have space to stretch out.

Photo 11-05-2015 12 44 38

I’m pleased to say, the skirt now fits beautifully and I was able to wear it yesterday in the sunshine. This is the finished freshly inserted elastic. I think it’s actually a better fit than before.


If you tried this technique, please let me know in the comments. It would be great if you shared a photo on instagram, twitter or Facebook. Use the hashtag #MendingMonday and if you’re on instagram tag me @MakeThriftLDN in the photo comments. I haven’t decided which garment I’ll be sharing next week but I’m challenging myself to have it ready to post it on Monday. Any requests? I have a huge pile to work through..

See you soon,

Daisy x

Me-Made-May 2015 Challenge

1 May

Wow, hello strangers! Just a quick post to tell you I’ve signed up for this year’s Me-Made-May. If you haven’t heard of Me-Made-May, where have you been for the past 5 years? Zoe from the amazing ‘So Zo What Do You Know’ sewing blog thought up the idea to encourage those who sew, knit or crochet to wear more of their self-made garments in the month of May. You can read all about it on this year’s post here.

It’s meant to be a personal challenge so you can choose your own rules. Although, I teach others to sew every week, I’ll admit I rarely find time to sew for myself and more often than not, in the rare opportunities I do, I start cutting out but never get round to finishing a garment or something that I have plans to alter gets stuck in the ‘to-fix’ pile and I’m slowly building a hill of unwearable clothes. Saying this, I have a skirt which I made (for a class) so I’m wearing this today! I’ll post a pic on instagram later. You can follow me @MakeThriftLDN and the hashtag #mmay15 to see what everyone else in the challenge is up to.

This year, since I’ve started my own sewing classes, I really want to push myself to make time for projects for me to share with the online community and really practice what I preach. So my pledge was to wear at least one me-made, altered or refashioned garment a week and to finish one project from my ‘to-fix’ pile and document it here. So here goes nothing! Have you signed up? What was your pledge? I’d love to discover some new sewing blogs to follow.

Sorry about the lack of fancy photos. Much more exciting stuff to follow!

Daisy x