Sewing Support: Clothing Fixes, Alterations, & Mending

Sandi Wiseheart
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Who has a mending basket that is overflowing? Who has buttons to sew, hems to hem, alterations to make? 

This thread is here for us to have some accountability and support for those of us who really, really need to do some “Fixin’’ Sewing”!

I’ll start:

OK, I know this sort of doesn’t count as clothing, but it counts as Sewing That Fixes: I have a BIG ripping out “project” to finish. Basically, I screwed up Big Time when I was attempting to machine-quilt a lap quilt, and wow. Is the quilting a bad job or WHAT?! (The answer is Yes.)

I’ve ripped out about 3/4 of the stitching that needs to go, but dang it, I’m SOOO BORED of ripping out badly done stitching I could scream.

BUT I really want this quilt to be DONE. It’s holding me up from working on other quilts, it’s too hard on my body to sit for long periods ripping out just to get ‘er done, sooo. I need nudging. 🙂

Status today: I worked on the rip-outs for about an 1hr+ this AM. Ripped out one half-row and one full row. I have seven full rows left to go. (Once that is done, I need to get out my walking foot and just do basic stitch-in-the-ditch because I decided the fabric is too busy for any other kind of stitching on top.)

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Thanks @Sandi Wiseheart! 🙂

I need to fix my overalls, and I need to fix a dress that had the strap break on it. 

I probably have other things I need to fix too, but they are all in the closet that I am Too Busy To Go Through. However, maybe I'll start just working on those two things, and then see where it goes!!! (Not today, because I had a kid spend the night with AJ and am BEAT, but maybe tomorrow?)

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I need to sew a button on my favorite shorts. And replace a broken clear elastic hanging strap in one of my dresses. I have supplies for both but have been having an inordinate amount of difficulty working my way around to actually doing this.

A different dress needs a tiny bit of sewing as well. It's a wrap dress (sort of, more a mock wrap thing - the only overlap is in the bodice), and I put a few tiny stitches in it when I first got it to make sure it wraps in a spot that won't give anyone too much of an eyeful at work. But I bought new bras, which are apparently more supportive than my old ones, and suddenly that dress is cleavage city. 

Probably doesn't count, but I "fixed" two pairs of old jeans yesterday by cutting the legs off at the spot where the thigh seams were already too worn out to salvage. Yay new shorts!  

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1 hour ago, daisywreath said:


Probably doesn't count, but I "fixed" two pairs of old jeans yesterday by cutting the legs off at the spot where the thigh seams were already too worn out to salvage. Yay new shorts!  

This TOTALLY counts. 🎉

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@daisywreath, I agree with @Corrie: Fixing the jeans by cutting them off? Totally counts, because now you have two newly wearable pairs of shorts! 

That’s awesome.

OK, it’s Wednesday, and it’s midweek check-in time: Maybe you haven’t had time to actually work on your projects because WeekDays. Anyone scheduling in time for their mending/fixing? Do we need an informal meetup sometime when we can be online encouraging each other? 

I have no idea what that actually means, but it sounds like a Thing that people might want at some point, so I’m testing the waters.

I’m also thinking about what accountability looks like—for me, for others. I like in-progress check-ins, partly because if anyone’s stuck or needs help, that is easier to do than if we only check-in when we finish something. And I am thinking about accountability more broadly than just this thread, perhaps. Has anyone had a really good experience with accountability, or a bad one, they can share? 

One of the best parts of this RocketShip, I think, is the ability to ask and discuss those sorts of big-picture questions. 🙂

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Status, me, as of Wednesday: I ripped out stitches from two more half-columns the other day. I’ve been sick and in a fit of frustration, I didn’t rip in an orderly fashion as I had done before, I just was all over the place. 

This photo is about 20% of what I have left to rip out. I use the seam ripper to cut every fourth stitch or so on this side (the back); then when I’ve gone up one side of the ovals and down the other (=1 column), I flip the quilt over and pull on the top threads from this column. Those come out with an extremely satisfying sound and riiiiiiiiiip-ing feel that are a bit addictive--that part is fun. Cleaning up all the little thread bits from the back side, not so fun. The front threads, however, come off in looking pieces--whee!

OK, so some of us live in hicktown and have no social life and get their thrills in really silly ways. 🤷🏻‍♀️🙃🤓❤️


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I thought I was deluding myself about the shorts -- I'm glad to hear I wasn't!

@Sandi Wiseheart It is oddly and profoundly satisfying to do the top side of the ripping. It makes the rest of the process way less disheartening.

I have a minor update miracle: I found the long-missing shorts button just now. On my desk. How weird is that? It's clearly a sign that I need to get on with this. (Tomorrow. It's late and I should be in bed already getting extra sleep to try to fight off a cold.) 

Edited by daisywreath
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Status report: I am so bored with ripping out stitches. It has gotten to the point where it just feels like I am wasting time and being unproductive with something that doesn’t really matter all that much. Slog, slog. I’m at the point where sometimes I give up, put the thing away, and just start something new. Sloggity slog slog...

Soooo, fellow creatives, what do you do when working on your crafts feels meaningless? Or unproductive or whatever word fits your experience?

(Bonus random cat photo: Dusty (cream w/dusty points) and Tim (grey/white tabby) snuggle in a very artistic sort of way.)


Edited by Sandi Wiseheart
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Yay bonus kitties! I wish my two got along more like that -- I only ever catch them snuggling in the winter. Once caught, Boo will edge away and pretend that he was *not* snuggling with Vladimir. (To be fair, Vladi can be kind of a jerk to him at times.)


Soooo, fellow creatives, what do you do when working on your crafts feels meaningless? Or unproductive or whatever word fits your experience?

One of the nice things about ADHD is that I can at times get so hyperfocused on something that the essential meaninglessness of the task doesn't bother me at all. But once I snap out of that, it's hard to get back there again. I try to remind myself that the work will be worth it because otherwise I'd either abandon the project or finish it in a half-assed manner and have a twinge of dissatisfaction with it every time I see it. (The hyperfocus trait is not always a good thing -- it can lead to my spending an inordinate amount of time futzing with the layout of a training handout so that it looks inviting and pretty rather than, say, getting the content finished and polished first so I don't end up scrambling at the last minute. But it's very good at keeping me going once I get into that mental zone while I'm working on a project.)

An ex of mine told me this story once about something that happened with a mutual friend when they were still teenagers. A group of them had been hanging out in a park at night (it's pretty safe to assume that some kind of intoxicating substances were involved) and she was sitting on the ground and kept saying "ouch" every so often. He asked her what was wrong, and she said there was a plant that hurt when she touched it. When he asked her why she kept touching it, she said, "Because it feels good when it stops."

That is sometimes how I get myself through the part where a project feels like a meaningless slog -- I know it'll feel great when it's done, even though in the moment it's causing me to question why ever wanted to start in the first place.  Not a perfect system, since sometimes I fail to talk myself into it and end up setting the project aside for ages, but it works some of the time, at least.

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Yesterday I got nothing of any actual usefulness done. It was brutally hot in the house -- no AC, and there's only one window large enough to accommodate the tiniest window AC unit available because I have these ridiculous old windows that open side to side -- and I felt like I'd been beaten with a stick on account of I fell when getting out of bed this morning. The dog was lying next to the bed, which I didn't notice until I very nearly stepped on her, and in my attempt to not hurt her and her attempt to get out of the way, I ended up falling and taking out the laundry hamper with me. I felt really banged up yesterday but am pretty much better now apart from a nasty bruise on my arm.

Anyway. Today is cooler, and I'm feeling better, and the button is on its way to being back on the shorts. I sewed it on once already but it was too low, so I had to rip and start over. I think it's placed correctly this time.  (I'm having major camera sadness - my good camera is packed up to go for a warranty repair, and my phone camera is not so good.) And I even worked in some time listen to/take notes on a podcast that I tried all week to find time to listen to that had exactly some info I needed to put together a bit of reference material for a work-related thing.

Edit: And it's done! 


Edited by daisywreath
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@daisywreathHooray for the button being sewn in! 

I don’t have ADHD (I think; no one’s ever tested me gor it), but I do know that hyper-focused state, or my version of it. I can lose hours when I get csught up in something!

After thinking it over, I realize that I’m having a bit of a “crafting crisis”. “Nothing I do matters; doesn’t matter if I finish things or not—who’s gonna know?”; and in general feeling discouraged and disconnected from my creativity. 

I’m having a bad time with respect to making things, I suppose. Since I don’t work, is crafting just a way to fill time, or is it valuable beyond that? 

—Sandi, asking the Big Questions for a friend, of course...

Edited by Sandi Wiseheart
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I kind of missed answering the point of your posts, sorry!

I like the story about the teens. Yeah, once I get the thing done, I will definitely have bragging rights! “I ripped out sixty-eight miles of stitching to finish this quilt!”

I am persevering. I realized that I could do the same thing here as I can do with other unpleasant things: Set a timer for ten minutes, or even just five, and then set the project aside after that time. It’ll get done eventually. The problem seems to result from me wanting it done NAO. 😎

We do have all-house A/C, but in a house this size (1500sqft, and no, we didn’t really realize how big it was until the papers were signed and keys handed over!) with tall ceilings, the cooling is very uneven! Like Goldilocks: This room is too cold, and this room is too hot...!

All five of my kitties snuggle together. 🐈🐈🐈🐈🐈

And a last question: What’s the match for? Inquiring minds... 

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I don't know if this is useful or okay to post (admin, feel free to contact me to discuss), but I work with The Learnary, a non profit in Vancouver, BC that is all about learning and curiosity for all ages - and mending (I know that might sounds like an odd combination, but it feels connected to us ;-)! We hold regular Fixeries, where people can bring their broken/torn/etc things and learn to mend them with the encouragement of others. We love to support people fixing things and sharing skills, so if there's interest in a meet-up in our space, let me know (

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@Surya, "Fixeries" sound amazing!!! I wish we had that here (I'm sadly, in the middle of the Midwest!) I love the idea of learning how to mend among other people too! 

I'm struggling too @Sandi Wiseheart. Mostly because we're outside a lot with the kids and its hot and I don't wanna do anything. 🙂 ❤️

This weekend I may focus on AT LEAST AT LEAST AT LEAST fixing those stupid overalls. I hurt my back and am taking a week of my classes, so I'll do SOMETHING. 😉

Edited by Corrie
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Mending update from the Blue Castle - Started my inventory of the overflowing mending basket.  At least three things were actually dry cleaning, not mending so those will go into the car and off to the cleaner.

Several things were really items I intended to cut up for another project.  Those will be moved to a project box for now.

I chose two things to start my mending journey. This coat was made by my grandmother and I just love to wear it! It has been missing a button and the lining was pulling away. Button now affixed and lining retacked!

The other item is a brown sweater I call my Real Writer sweater because it has ink stains in a couple of spots. One pocket flap is unraveling and the other needs a button. Picked up the flap stitches and an ready to start knitting!

@Corrie - You can see some previous visible mending here too!

Anyone else with mending intentions/progress this weekend?



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On 7/10/2019 at 7:04 AM, Kimberly Hirsh said:

When I do buttons, I use a matchstick like that to make the shank a little longer so it's easier to button.

Yep, that's it exactly! I always sew the button on too tight if I don't use a spacer. It makes getting started a little more awkward -- which contributed to my sewing it on in the wrong spot on the first try. But it makes for a much better final result for me.

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Lately I've been too busy sweltering in the heat and being out of my non-air-conditioned apartment as much as possible to do anything useful. (Heat index of 108F/42C this weekend! Last night it never got below 80F, so it didn't even really cool down overnight despite having window fans in every room. The heat is supposed to break overnight, for which I will be very grateful.)

Anyway. So I haven't made any more progress after sewing on the button. My mending list looks like this right now:

  • replace the elastic hanging strap in the dress with the polka dots
  • re-do the stitching that keeps me from accidentally flashing people in the wrap dress
  • fix the hem on a beloved skirt whose hem as started raveling a bit. It has a teeny-tiny hem to start with. I think I can roll it, stitch it, and then use a bit of fray check on the back to make sure the frayed bits don't get worse. If I roll the hem under enough to catch all the frayed parts, I think it'll look really weird. (When it gets to the point of no return, I want to take it apart and take a pattern from it.)
  • mend the cutoff shorts from a previous post. One pair ripped vertically right beside the inner seam -- apparently they were in worse shape than I realized. Luckily I'm lazy and hadn't thrown out the legs yet despite them being too trashed to do much with, so I have a piece of the original denim to mend it. There's a big enough piece in okay shape to patch them with. I want to do this kind of mend with them. I think that will probably hold up the best -- and these are currently my comfiest pair of shorts.

ETA - I just bought a copy of the book mentioned in the blog post I linked to (Mending Matters by Katrina Rodabaugh. It looks really useful!

Edited by daisywreath
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18 hours ago, daisywreath said:

Yep, that's it exactly! I always sew the button on too tight if I don't use a spacer. It makes getting started a little more awkward -- which contributed to my sewing it on in the wrong spot on the first try. But it makes for a much better final result for me.

I leave space, too, but I’ve never used a physical object. My grandmother taught me to sew the button on loosely, and then, while the thread is still in the needle, to wind the thread around the stitching underneath the button several times until the thread itself is the shank (after winding, make a knot and done!).

Another trick I use in stitching buttons onto knitted things is to use a buttonband of grosgrain ribbon (the real cloth kind, not the weird paper kind), and also, to sew a second, plain and slightly smaller, button right behind the working button, but on the other side of the fabric. The idea behind both, of course, is that these help to stabilize the working button over the life of the sweater.

However, the matchstick is a much more stable way to ensure the shanks are equivalent in size. 

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Mending report, Tuesday, July 30, 2019

FIRST PROJECT: The Cat Pajamas:

Status: Done (wearable) but I could fix Just One More Thing to make it “perfect” ::coughcocugh::

I have a wonderful summer PJ set: shorts, strappy little tank top, lightweight robe; all made out of a lightweight knit jersey featuring black kitties on a purple background. (Yes, I know—perfect for me. Purple plus kitties. Be still my heart.) Here are photos of the set:

(1) Robe of Cat PJs set


(2) Top of PJ set


OK, (3B) after crowd are the shorts, just to complete the photo montage of the outfit...


However, despite the Awesome, I was only able to wear the set for a short time before my, ah—super flexible home weight management program, shall we say—progressed to the next new weight, one where the shorts were just too tight and the tank top looked stupid on me. Since then, again on my flexible home weight management program, I have lost about 30-something pounds, and wanted to see if I could wear my cute PJ set now. Sure enough, the shorts fit PERFECTLY (yay), but the top was huuuuuge on me. So I measured and did math, traced the top and measured again. I finally realized my “unbelievable” numbers were in fact true (yes, I really had lost 35ish pounds!). Turns out that I had to take the top in by at least 5 inches! Thus, after another measure-and-math session just to be sure (just like the song says, “my mother was a tailor”, but this time it’s the literal truth!), I finally sewed side seams each about 1-1/4” from the existing seams, thus taking in each side by 2-1/2” and thus the whole thing by 5 inches!

(3) Side seam after taking it in about 1.25”, folding seam allowance towards back of top, and sewing edge of seam allowance down—inside view.



Now, I am no fool. There is no world in which I will not gain at least some of the weight back, because that is life at Sandi’s house on the aforementioned flexible home weight management program: I lose 20lbs, then gain 17lbs back, and so on around and around. I have the standard 3 sizes represented in my closet, with several inbetween sizes just in case.

Thus, I knew it would be stupid of me to do the normal thing and trim off the 1-1/4” extra seam fabric. As in REALLY STUPID. So I folded the extra fabric down (towards the back of the top, not the front), and sewed that down, creating a sort of French seam on each side seam. 

(4) Side seam sewn down, outside view



Result: It fits! The whole set now fits, when it never did previously. I have been wearing it every night in this terrible heat wave, and using the robe when the A/C feels too cold, and I love it!! 

I confess that sometimes, “time for changing into PJs before bed” has been creeping up earlier and earlier each evening. 😜🛌 (Not the actual bedtime, you understand, just the time when Melody and I look at each other and say, “Let’s get comfy and crawl into our jammies”.

HEY. We’ve been married 15 years and together for 16. At least both of us still care that our jammies are (somewhat) cute—except when we both don’t care, because Comfy always wins out over Cute, every time.


In order for the alterations to be complete, there is one last fix I haven’t tackled yet—the straps. They are adjustable, to a point. Unfortunately, that point does not include a setting which allows the straps to stay on my shoulders and not fall down. In the following pic you can see that I have used a tiny bit of handspun yarn (of course it’s handspun yarn, what would you use that is commonly sitting around your living room or bathroom when you get a crazy idea at 11 PM at night?) to tie the straps together so they won’t fall down. 

After I tried on the top with the tied-in-place straps, I realized that the tie created a really nifty criss-cross pattern across the top of my back and shoulders. I love it! So I am working on a way to fix the straps and have a more permanent “tie” in place to help the straps stay up. Stay tuned!

(5) Suggestion for further alterations: Fix straps so I don’t have to use a piece of handspun yarn to make them the correct length! And, if possible, maintain the cool criss-cross pattern created by the yarn tie.


OK, I have completed a couple other mending projects, but I will post those later. Melody is cutting onions and MY eyes are watering. 😜



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@Sandi Wiseheart You could pretty easily DIY one of these: which are designed to solve the exact problem you're having, (and very useful to have on hand) and you could decide your permanence level.

While I'm at it, I'll leave the link to Manhattan Wardrobe Supply (amazing supplier of all things costume and wardrobe related - including a whole mending section under sewing supplies 😁) here:

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22 hours ago, Holly said:

@Sandi Wiseheart You could pretty easily DIY one of these: which are designed to solve the exact problem you're having, (and very useful to have on hand) and you could decide your permanence level.

While I'm at it, I'll leave the link to Manhattan Wardrobe Supply (amazing supplier of all things costume and wardrobe related - including a whole mending section under sewing supplies 😁) here:

Jaw drop.

Those are EXACTLY what I need, thank you, @Holly! And that website is amazing! I bookmarked it to peruse when I have some spare moments. 

When it comes to crafts and sewing and such, I tend to forget there is an entire internet full of help out there. I use the internet for figuring out computer problems, or recipes, or household fixes, or other such practical daily things. (Yesterday, it was a tow truck. Not a great day.) For the things I do with my hands, though, my first impulse is to hack it myself or ask someone. In-person communications. Books. Not the internet, even though clearly there are fabulous sites out there. (THANK YOU!0

Learn something new about myself every day. I can find things about sewing and crafting on the internet! Whoo!

(I’m a bit punchy. We spent much of yesterday out in the horrible heat and drenching rain, with a car that wouldn’t Go. All’s well now, and we’re dry; but I think a bit dehydrated and definitely poorer!)

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