Whether you're looking for a better way to sew a button, patch a hole, or mend a ripped seam, we've got clever solutions for all your wardrobe snafus.
The hole in a zipper pull always seems to suggest something is missing. So why not personalize your sweater or jacker with a pom-pom, tassel, orphaned charm, or bead?
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Ever wonder what to do with those replacement buttons? Here's a handy idea: Sew them onto the inside hems of the garment they belong to. The next time you notice a button missing, you'll always have another one in reach.
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Try a fine-tooth comb to catch pills and leave sweaters intact. Lay the sweater on a table, move the comb flush against the sweater, being careful not to hook the sweater itself, and gently lift the pills away like magic.
Photography: David Prince4 of 10
Sew a Coat Button
If it is sewed on too snugly, a button won’t slide easily through its buttonhole, especially on thick fabrics such as wool. To ensure adequate give, place a matchstick between the button and the fabric, then sew around it to create a shank. Remove the matchstick, and twirl the end of the thread around the shank several times to reinforce it. Then pull the needle through the shank a few times to secure it; snip the thread and knot.
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When in Doubt, Turn Inside Out
Turning your clothes inside out every time you wash them will keep bright colors from fading, reduce pilling on outside surfaces, and minimize damage to snaps and buttons.
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Keep Colors Bright
If you're worried about the bright color of your brand-new blouse running in the wash, try this time-honored easy treatment: Prerinse laundry in a solution of distilled white vinegar and cold water, using 2/3 cup vinegar for each gallon of water. Let the garment soak for up to 15 minutes, then wash and dry according to the manufacturer's instructions.
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Strongly fragrant soap bars can act like sachets to perfume clothes. Slip a bar or two of your favorite aromatic soap (with the paper wrapping on) into a dresser drawer. Before the sweet smell fades, it will scent the contents for weeks or possibly months.
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Fix a Pulled Hem
This can be done in three major steps. To illustrate the mending of these cotton-Lycra pants, we used red mercerized-cotton thread, but you should use a color that matches the fabric.
First, turn the pant leg inside out. Start and end your repair about 1/2 inch on either side of the rip. You don't have to knot your thread for this task; to secure it in the fabric, use a short backstitch: Piercing only the folded inner edge of the fabric, insert the needle in the hem, below the seam, and pull it out to make an 1/8-inch stitch. Reinsert the needle through the same stitch, and repeat once more to secure.
Just above the hem, insert needle through the fabric from right to left. Make the smallest possible stitch; it will show on the right side of the fabric. Bring the thread down and to the right of the diagonal, and make a stitch in the hem, piercing only the top layer of fabric, again pushing the needle from right to left. Draw the thread up and take another stitch above the hem, about 1/2 inch to the right of the previous stitch, again inserting the needle from right to left. Repeat.
Continue stitching up and down the hemline until the rip is closed. As you sew, keep the tension of the thread slightly loose; pulling it too tight could break it or pucker the fabric. Secure your work with a short backstitch, as at the start.
Photography: David Prince9 of 10
Mend a Ripped Seam
To mend a ripped seam on a cotton shirt, use mercerized-cotton thread in a shade that matches the fabric's dominant color. Turn the garment inside out. Tie off the loose machine-stitched threads around the tear. To follow the original stitch line, draw a guideline with a marking pencil. To secure the thread, make a short backstitch about 1/2 inch before the rip. Take the stitch through both layers of the fabric.
Close the rip with the backstitch, one of the strongest hand stitches: With right (front) sides of the fabric together, bring the needle through the two layers of fabric. Insert the needle back down through the fabric about 1/8 inch to the right; bring it back up 1/8 inch to the left of where you started (so each stitch will overlap the last by 1/8 inch).
Depending on the garment's original seam finish, you can open the seam and press it flat, or finish the seam with an overcast stitch: From underneath, pull the needle and thread through both pieces of fabric; then come up and over the seam allowance, on a slight diagonal, and reinsert the needle and thread, being careful not to pull the thread too taut. Repeat until the area being repaired is covered. Secure stitches with a short backstitch. Press the seam.
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Do you have a clothing label that reads "dry-clean"? Here's a secret: That doesn't mean it can't be hand washed, especially if it's made of natural fibers. Wool, silk, rayon, and linen can usually tolerate hand washing. When hand washing, immerse delicates into a solution of lukewarm water and mild detergent, and swish for three to five minutes. Drain soapy water, rinse items until water runs clear, and then gently squeeze out excess water, but do not wring. Reshape clothing flat on a towel, and roll up, pressing out excess water. Repeat with a dry towel, and then hang on a drying rack or another towel, flipping once.
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