Knowing When It’s Time to Throw Away Mended Clothing

When my mended pair of jeans needed to be repaired again, I knew it was time to let them go. I patched them after a year of wear and then wore them for another year.

It’s time to let these jeans go.

Nothing lasts forever, unfortunately, and while I could have mended these jeans for a second time, I just wasn’t feeling comfortable wearing them. I tend to wear out my jeans in the crotch. So, visible repairs are in an awkward place and I certainly don’t want to draw attention to my crotch! The layered fabric in the crotch creates a different kind of discomfort—it’s physically uncomfortable.

Right after the mending a year ago.

I took photos of these jeans when I originally mended them. The date linked is March of 2022. I estimate that I wore them for a year before they needed repair. I wore them for two years: one year as-is and a second year patched. Full disclosure: I am on sabbatical from working outside the home. A lot of days I just don’t leave home—I can get away with wearing the same clothes every day, from week to week. I wore these jeans multiple days per week for two years straight. Conservatively, I’ll say I wore them only 2 days per week. Let’s do some math!

52 + 52 = 104 weeks in the 2 years I wore them

104 x 2 = 208 days worn

I do laundry once a week. They were washed 104 times.

208 days of wear. 104 washes. Now, they’re done.

That’s pretty good and beats NPR’s LifeKit’s suggestion that you wear an article of clothing 30 times.

I learned a lot from this pair of pants. First, there’s a lot of stretch in these jeans. Look at how they wore out. It’s amazing how much the wear looks like stretch marks on skin.

Denim wore right down to the patch material.

Second, I think the stitching frayed and broke because I mended these jeans while they were clean. There’s a difference in the fabric when it’s freshly washed and when it has been worn a couple of times.

I used a single strand of DMC Cotton Pearl thread in a medium blue to blend with the color of the denim as much as possible.

The next pair of jeans, I will wear them a day or two before mending. Then, I’ll be stitching on fabric at its maximum stretched size, not at a shrunken size.

Layers of fabric

Finally, I’m not sure I’ll heave the whole pair into the trash bin. I’m going to try part them out—I’ll try to take out the zipper and maybe cut out swatches of relatively unworn fabric on the legs for future mending or other projects. All in all, eventually everything has to go. While only having this pair of jeans for two years seems paltry, after doing the math, I realize that I actually got a lot of wear out of them. Now it’s time to put them to rest.

Pretty stitches.

Mended Buttonhole on Men’s Jeans

The buttonhole on my husband’s jeans frayed, so it was too large to securely hold the button. I was able to mend the hole, but it wasn’t without trial and error.

When the buttonhole on a pair of my husband’s jeans frayed so much that it could no longer hold the button securely, I offered to give mending them a try. I ran into some snags throughout the process, but I was able to do it.

First, I reinforced the area with a scrap of quilting cotton. I sewed a patch on the front and back of the waistband over the buttonhole. Then, I put in a few rows of running stitches where the frayed hole was since this area really only had the two layers of cotton fabric. 

Next, I popped my buttonhole foot onto my sewing machine and threaded it with heavy duty thread. I set the size of the buttonhole, positioned the waistband under the needle, and pushed the pedal. Fail! The reinforced denim waistband was too thick for my machine to scooch along under the needle. The fabric pretty much remained stationary and all I got was a mess of thread. So, went back to the drawing board. Or should I say that I went running to Google.

I searched how to hand sew a buttonhole. There are plenty of really good tutorials that showed me the way. So, I broke out the pearl cotton thread and a touch of Dritz Fray Check (I dabbed the cut edges of the buttonhole with the Dritz Fray Check to help prevent fraying…and recreating the original problem!).

It worked! My husband has put these jeans back into rotation, which is the whole point, right—to get at least one more wear out of them?

Necessary Sewing: A Couple of Projects That Fulfill a Need

Sewing is mostly a hobby for me, but sometimes it’s a necessity—I need to create something I need to use now.

Masks in-progress.

Sewing isn’t always glamorous. Sometimes, sewing is necessary. It’s not all hobby and unicorns and rainbows. For me, the last month or so has consisted of necessary sewing, mainly making masks for my school kids to wear at school. I also made a couple of L’il Knot Bags by indigobird, because I thought I might use them to hold used masks.

Masks! Masks! Masks!

Here’s the deal: my kids have to wear masks at school. If they have to wear masks, well, they should have fun masks to wear. So, before the beginning of the school year when it was s—l—o—w—l—y becoming apparent that they should be wearing a mask at school, I rifled through my fabric stash and pulled fabrics they could choose from for their masks. (They enjoyed picking the fabric.)

Halloween Masks

I then decided I’d make them a set of Halloween-themed masks. And, while I’m way over sewing masks at this point, I have already acquired fabric to make winter-themed masks. (There is no way I am going to waste time and fabric on holiday-themed masks that they’d only wear a couple of weeks. Winter masks can be worn December and January. Maybe February.)

The worst part of making the Halloween masks? When I cut out 24 ear straps and realized that I cut them in the wrong direction along the knit fabric. Bah! It happens. Side note: I’ve found that cutting an old t-shirt into 1” strips creates ear straps that are comfortable.

D’oh! Knit fabric ear strips cut in the wrong direction against the grain.

I’ll refrain from telling you all the details about my masks. At this point, everyone should have found a mask pattern and materials that works for them. If you just gotta know, leave a comment or send me a message via my contact page.

Medium L’il Knot Bag

The L’il Knot Bags came together easily enough. I made a small and medium-size bag. Originally, I thought one would work well to hang on a hook and have my kids deposit their mask into at the end of the school day. But, ends up the hook I have by the front door works well for this purpose. (They hang their mask by its lanyard on the hook.) The bags are functional and fun so I’m sure I’ll find a purpose for them. Another side note: that small bag is made from the fabric I used to mend my M&M’s Quilt and Yellow Quilt (that’s its official name, y’all—ha!). I was pleasantly surprised these two fabrics coordinate so well!

It’s hard to see the lining fabric–peep the green lining near the handle.

Necessary sewing can be fun. I mean, it’s great to be able to justify sneaking off to my sewing machine because I have to get these masks done before school starts! But, sometimes it’s sluggish. When it was feeling like that, I promised myself that once I was done, I could move on to something more fun, like working on the next quilt in my queue.

Here are more examples of what I consider to be necessary sewing: visibly hemming jeans, making handkerchiefs, and sewing baby bibs.

What having you been sewing lately because you have to, not necessarily because you want to?

How I Match Colors When Buying Fabric Online + Annual Pillowcases

I use two different methods for buying fabric online so that the colors coordinate. For this year’s pillowcases, I used the easiest method.

My 2021 pillowcases. One for each of my oldest kids and one for myself.

Every year, I make myself and my kids (just the older two for now) a new pillowcase each. I wrote a tutorial for the pattern and technique I use here. It requires coordinating fabric and sometimes matching fabrics is hard…especially if you’re shopping online. 

Now, there’s no wrong way to pair fabrics, but some fabrics just look better together. Since shopping online has become a norm (and not just because of the pandemic), buying fabric online is becoming a norm. 

Shopping for fabric online isn’t easy, though. There’s something about not being able to see it and feel it and most importantly, put fabrics side-by-side to see if they coordinate that creates difficulty. Alas, I have a couple of tricks!

I mean, these lobsters. How could I not buy this fabric?

First, look at the fabric website on different screens, such as a smartphone and a laptop. I did this with one of last year’s pillowcase fabrics and some fabric for my Down the Rabbit Hole Quilt. Usually what I did was browse on my phone, emailed myself links to any fabrics I thought may work, and then hopped onto my laptop to open the email and click back to the fabric website. Bonus, I have a monitor plugged into my laptop, so I looked at it on 3 screens (phone, laptop, monitor). I figured somewhere “in between” was the true color and it worked, albeit, with a bit of faith and risk. Ha!

Think that first tip is too tedious? It is! But, my second tip is easy-peasy, which is to just skip the guess work and buy fabrics from the same line! Designers create patterns and color palettes that coordinate so really all the fabrics in a particular line look good with all the others. I did this with my Craftedmoon fabric by Sarah Watts that I used for one of my pillowcases.

Craftedmoon fabric by Sarah Watts–the colors and prints are so rich and luxurious.

Now, I don’t know what to tell you if your online fabric purchase has glitter that you couldn’t see in the picture, except maybe pitch the fabric and chalk it up as a learning experience. I have learned that lesson

Gorgeous fabric makes for the best nights of sleep.

For these pillowcases, I bought 4 of the fabrics on eBay. I was very pleased with the experience. Who knew? The Violet Craft fabric I searched for because I thought it’d be nice for my daughter to have a pillowcase that matched her quilt (that was doomed by glitter—see above about learning experiences). So there’s a bonus tip: if you need “out of print” fabric, try eBay! I think there are some sellers who are just trying to destash, but also some who have found a little business. I didn’t find the prices and the cost of shipping to be a barrier to purchasing on eBay. Plus, eBay now is a place I “browse” fabric when my thumb is itching to scroll on my phone. I started a Pinterest board to save all the fabrics that catch my eye from there (and elsewhere). Go ahead a take a peek, and purchase away (if you buy it, I won’t be tempted to myself! Heehee!).

I love the vacation vibes of this Violet Craft fabric.

So, look at online fabric pictures on multiple screens or just buy fabrics from the same line since they’re designed to coordinate. Also, browse eBay for any fabrics that may be out of print or fabrics you may never see in a traditional fabric store—brick-and-mortar or online. And, have a little faith and take a little risk in the process. It’s just fabric!

Pillowcases are such a great way to showcase eye-candy fabric.

Do you ever buy fabric online? What are your tips and tricks to finding exactly what you’re looking for?

My Grainline Studio Scout Tee from an Upcycled, Thrifted Old Navy Dress

I used fabric from a thrifted Old Navy dress to sew a Grainline Studio Scout Tee. Not only do I have a new shirt, but I learned to sew with rayon/viscose fabric.

Grainline Studio Scout Tee from thrifted dress.

Let’s dig into the details of my Grainline Studio Scout Tee that I made with harvested fabric from a thrifted Old Navy dress. I mentioned it in my last post about the clothing I made recently.

I love harvesting fabric from thrifted clothes because it’s significantly cheaper than buying new fabric and I feel less inhibited to try new things. In 2019, I made a handful of zipper pouches from repurposed thrifted clothing. And, a bit after that, I sewed a t-shirt from a thrifted knit maxi dress so that I could start learning to sew with knits (I’m still learning knits!). This Scout Tee from a dress allowed me to not only make a pattern I knew I liked, but also gave me the opportunity to sew with a fabric I’ve never used before, a 100% rayon/viscose.

Original Old Navy dress tag. It’s nice to have the fabrication and care instructions.

I’ve made a Scout Tee before in a size 10 and I like the fit of the shirt, but I wanted it a bit longer. I lengthened the pattern by 1 1/2”. I was able to use the original hem of the dress for the hem of the shirt, so the overall additional length is probably 2”. 

Original Old Navy Dress–size XL

To start, I cut the dress up at the seams and ironed the pieces (so much easier than ironing a sewn garment—haha!). There was just enough front and back dress fabric to get the front and back of the shirt. The back of the shirt is the back of the dress, so there are the same seaming details that were on the dress, which I like. 

Back of Grainline Studio Scout Tee. Notice the vertical and horizontal seams.

The sleeves were trickier to cut. I used the dress sleeves, but I had to create a patchwork of fabric from the dress sleeve and ruffle cuff. It worked! And the extra seams aren’t too noticeable and they don’t irritate my arms. 

Detail of the sleeves. Notice the two extra seams.

For the bias binding at the neckline, I had to dig into my stash of quilting cotton. It probably isn’t the best weight of fabric to use with the flowy, lightweight rayon/viscose dress fabric, but this project was all about making it work and the cotton bias worked!

I didn’t have matching purple thread, so I used what was in my machine, a light aqua. It’s more contrasting that I would like, but I had the thought that while making apparel, if one tiny thing is “off” maybe I won’t treat the finished garment as precious and wear it a lot as opposed to waiting for “the right time” to wear it. You know what I mean?

The contrast stitching doesn’t bother me. I didn’t have to change my thread and now it doesn’t feel too “precious” to wear on an average day.

Overall, I’m happy with this shirt. And, I now have the confidence to sew with this kind of fabric. Also, I’m eager to see what I can make with more fabric harvested from thrifted clothing! 

Have you ever sewn from fabric harvested from secondhand clothing? Do you have any tips or tricks for me?

Grainline Studio Scout Tee