Since adopting the Zero Waste lifestyle, my life and that of my family has completely changed, for the better. We not only feel happier, we lead more meaningful lives, based on experiences instead of stuff.
Today, my goal is to shatter pre-conceptions associated with the Zero Waste lifestyle and share what we have discovered about its incredible health, financial and time saving benefits. 

Repairing

Still working on my book full time... please forgive my long absences and short blog post!
I have a fun project starting in a couple of weeks, but until then...

I wanted to share my last repair with you.

No matter how much we (first) Refuse, and (second) Reduce, we constantly face the results of today's poor designs and manufacturing. Repairing has been an important element of our Zero Waste lifestyle, since it represents one the many facets of REUSE. But I am so proud of my most recent achievement!


Leo fell in love with a seconhand jacket but the cuffs were worn: I repaired them with the elastic bands of a pair of worn-out socks. It literally took five minutes to accomplish, and it made one happy boy!

Torn cuff


Worn-out sock

Repaired cuff

What did you last repair?

83 comments:

  1. countrylady20026/03/2012

    I have no sewing ability whatsoever, however, I did cut off a capri style exercise pants into long shorts, and wore those last year. This spring or summer I want to cut those once again into shorter shorts. I did feel really good being able to redo something and when I get them cut and hemmed again you can bet I will have a big smile all across my face.

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    1. Use liquid stitch! It saves my non-sewing butt! ;-)

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  2. I've just re-repaired/darned my husband's favourite jumper/sweater. (First time round I darned in the evening & realised my mistake by the light of day- blue wool on a grey jumper looked awful!)

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  3. Whn my son wears out the knees on his school pants, I turn them into shorts. It takes about 15 minutes, and saves about $15.

    I also learned how to repair our window screens. I rescreened almost all of our windows.

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    1. Ditto. I cut all the boys winter jeans that they had wornout at the knee (I used orange thread on the hem to match the denim seams). I not only did not need to buy any shorts this year, these fit and look better than those that they have worn in the past!

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    2. Hey, I'd like to learn how to re-screen windows, a few of ours need re-screening, too! Can you post about that, Margery?

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  4. Anonymous6/03/2012

    I admire that my grandparents repaired often, and love your cuff story. I have mended one pair of my son's pants all the way up the leg three times! His clothes have all sorts of zig zag stitches closing up holes. I have learned the hard way that there is no need to buy him a new item of clothing- it will only be stain-free and un ripped for a short time. He likes to climb trees, and I hope his teacher doesn't think I neglect his personal appearance.

    I don't sew up the holes in my younger son's pyjama toes- those are the ones he chooses for bed because the holes make them his favourite.

    I repaired a window screen by spraying adhesive (something I would not by now, but we've had it a while) on the hole area, and laying a scrap of screen on top- worked like a charm. I found the scrap screen in someone's garbage.

    I also "repaired" our cloth diapers. They had a terrible smell when they got wet from detergent residue left on them. I boiled them in a pot with a cup of baking soda and that solved the problem! I feel like I saved them. I will sterilize the pot before you come to dinner.

    My repair that makes me chuckle the most was on a pair of my husband's underwear. I found them tossed in our bedroom garbage because there were two rips. I whisked them to the sewing machine and he has been none the wiser for months- even with blue thread on black fabric!

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  5. Impressive repair! I just stitched up my favorite pair of pink shorts for the umpteenth time. I fear their end is near though since the "rear end" is getting so threadbare that I now have to be careful not to wear patterned underwear with them because you can see the pattern through the now very thin fabric. Sigh. Well, maybe I'll get one more summer out of them!

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    Replies
    1. Anonymous6/30/2012

      can't u use the leftover "good" fabric to make a nice cute purse? i did with my old fav jeans ;)

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  6. KarinSDCA6/03/2012

    I turned a pair of my daughter's ripped jeans into long shorts (just shy of the knees), which she has worn nearly every day since.

    I turned a pair of my dad's oddly shaped pants into long shorts and he's worn them many times since.

    In both cases, these pants were destined for the giveaway pile and I asked what was wrong with them before offering solutions.

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  7. Anonymous6/03/2012

    that's a great idea! finding a tube knit like that in most fabric stores is really difficult anyways. love the efficiency!

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  8. My husband repaired our coffee maker last weekend and it has been much appreciated since. I have plans to take apart a favorite pair of khaki shorts that can't hold another patch on the rear and create a pattern for them so that I can use an old pair of khaki pants to make new "favorite" shorts. As soon as school gets out...!

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  9. Impressive! I don't repair very well, but this is an inspiration.

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  10. I have been contemplating my repair needs recently, and my husband just contributed 2 more to the pile. Does anyone have a good source for "how-to-repair" for dummies? We have learned to cook, clean, garden, but sewing scares both of us a bit silly, and I have wanted to break out the sewing machine (was my grandmother's) with some pride. Any suggestions--just starting with a basic hem (turning pants to shorts). I really want to work on my "reuse" when it comes to clothes--that's one issue we struggle with.

    We have both recently been lamenting that we never learned any "hands-on" skills from our parents, who were all incredibly wasteful on different budgets. If I had children, I would really be working on this with my own kids--and probably a bit overboard to compensate from my lack of learning early on!

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    1. I have a love/hate relationship with my sewing machine. It's supposed to make things so much easier, but I always end up cursing at it, getting things jammed and breaking the needles. I find it much MUCH easier to just mend things by hand. All you need is a needle and thread, and maybe a thimble so you don't prick yourself.

      There are lots of good tutorials on YouTube and the web in general. But I find the whip stitch and the back stitch to be the only two you really need.

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    2. When learning to sew a good idea is to start with pjs. They're easy as they're not form fitting, no tricky darts etc, and if they're a little off kilter it doesn't matter as you're only going to wear them to bed! Great to get a handle on your machine and gain some confidence.

      For a 'sewing repairs for dummies' keep an eye out in your local op/thrift shop. You can often pick up an old copy of a sewing book from the 70s/80s and these almost always have chapters on repairs.

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    3. I bet you can get a lot out of books and videos but if you have a friend that can sew well and mend (either by machine or hand) I would recommend inviting them over for lunch and some tutelage, sewing is so hands on I think (as someone who sews) that having a real human there with you will be priceless. But use all the resources you have. Sewing is an amazing skill to have up your sleeve!
      B from WA

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    4. It might take a little time to find you a good sewing machine. Any machine that you buy retail for less than $500 is bound to be a source of much frustration. Berninas are my favorite and can be repaired forever. A good used one can usually be purchased for about $400. If you don't have a good machine, you will NEVER enjoy sewing. I think good tools are usually worth of their price.

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    5. Krystal already has her grandmother's sewing machine, but I have heard from many regular sewers that the best machine purchase is going to be secondhand, a machine from the 70's or before -- those are generally tanks and work well with a pretty small amount of maintenance. I have my mother's machine, which dates from the late 60's, and the manual that came with it has a very thorough maintenance section.

      Many good quality fabric stores offer classes to teach sewing and machine maintenance (my mother teaches at one). They are worth the money, especially since you can ask for specific help if you run into a problem.

      Best of luck!

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  11. Brilliant repair! Given that I'm a smaller man, my cuffs wear out all the time.

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  12. You are AWESOME! I'm constantly faced with poor manufacturing issues! Nothing is made to last! And why would companies want things to last...they want repeat business and consumers want the latest, greatest thing at rediculously low price resulting in this visious circle! Anytime you can share one of these brilliant ideas of yours, it makes me a very happy visitor! Thank you! :)

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  13. Bea, did you see this article in the NYTimes about a repair cafe in Amsterdam? I want one so badly!

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/09/world/europe/amsterdam-tries-to-change-culture-with-repair-cafes.html?pagewanted=all

    I have an air mattress that deflates and I cannot find the leak. The manufacturer has no options to repair or recycle it and I am at my wit's end (it's a lot of good material to end up in a landfill, all for one tiny puncture!), so I want to take it to this repair cafe. Seems like a good excuse to visit Amsterdam, no? :)

    Enjoy!

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    Replies
    1. Anonymous6/04/2012

      Have you tried submerging it in the bathtub to find the leak? Alternatively, you could bring it outside on some dry-flat pavement and slowly fill with water from a hose.

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    2. Hmmmm, I'm not sure that would work, because it's one of those fancy, new-fangled air mattresses that inflate with a motor (it was a gift; I wouldn't have bought it because this was inevitable and folding camping cots I can fix!). I'll take another look at it and see if that idea might work. Thank you!

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    3. Yes! I tweeted about the repair cafe a few weeks ago. I love the idea and wish we had one here!

      Years ago, we made an un-repairable slash into one of those mattresses. I used it to waterproof the underside of our picnic blanket. Today, I would probably send it back to the manufacturer with a suggestion letter. It costs money and CO2 emissions, but I already save a lot with this lifestyle (can't be too greedy;) and it sends a powerful message to the manufacturer, forcing it to take responsability for the life cycle of its products (if everyone sent it back, they would immediately find solutions)...

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    4. You could try spraying or brushing some soapy water on the mattress and looking for the place where it makes bubbles. That's how they look for gas leaks in pipes.

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    5. Now I am so enamored of the idea of my new waterproof picnic blanket that I don't even want to repair the air mattress! Thanks all of you for the good ideas!

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    6. Another good reuse for the inflatable bed is to cut the bed into a mattress protector for a small child who still wets the bed.

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    7. Anonymous6/30/2012

      corn starch, just sprinkle it over the the thing and watch where the starch *flour goes up, you got the leak ;)

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  14. Kelsey Johnston6/04/2012

    In our process of converting from plastic to glass and metal containers I recently purchased several airtight stainless steel bowls. They have 3 "locks" that clamp down to make the airtight seal. Unfortunately one of the clamps on the smallest bowl would not release. When I called the company they told me to keep it, as it would cost more to send it back to them than it cost. My husband and I figured out the problem and were able to repair it in about 15 minutes with some simple tools from the garage (a hammer, file, and punch). As we were doing so it occurred to me that because this was a material we could work with we were able and willing to at least make an attempt at repair. I believe this is one reason so many things used to be repaired - not only for cost but because they could. If this had been plastic there probably wouldn't have been much we could do other than try to find another use for it before recycling it.

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  15. Hi everyone, I actually have a question - request for advice. I am constantly wearing off the fabric on the inner thigh area of my trousers due to friction. I walk a lot. I can't seem to do anything! Inner lining hurts my legs and the outside wears off anyway. I still all these pairs of tropusers in great condition except the worm away inner thighs. The only solution so far has been tp narrow down the legs and give them away to someone with much slimmer legs. I did open up some pairs of jeans into skirts when I was younger biut all trousers don't lend themselves to this. Any ideas??

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    1. Anonymous6/04/2012

      I had this issue once with a favorite pair of capris. I took them to a seamstress who did a great job repairing them. She sewed in matching fabric from the inside of the leg right where the seams were coming apart. She then put in more zig-zag seams over the fabric to stiffen it and make it more durable. It worked really well.

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    2. I had this problem when I was bike commuting and I found that if I used a soft fabric (like well washed cotton or maybe flannel)I could patch from the inside and not have chafing problems. Good luck!

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    3. Lucy in Pembs6/20/2012

      I have this problem with jeans. I am only a size 10 UK (6 US) but clearly have fat thighs! It's not even on the seam.

      Any solutions other than patching with some jean fabric from the inside - that may make the fat thigh problem even more accentuated!

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  16. Lovely repair. I get all our clothing free from the local consignment shop (I take the extras and needs-a-buttons to the take-it-or-leave-it at our town dump for them and get first pickings). My kids are all old pros at reworking clothes into what they want. We have bought only socks and underwear for their entire lives. My daughters feel sorry for their friends who spend hundreds on prom dresses, it's more fun to put together your own. I don't knit (I know, I know, I'll get around to it someday..) so they improvise hats and mittens too-here's a picture: http://www.nantuckettiechic.com/2011/12/302-diy-mittens-and-hats.html?showComment=1324506852662

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  17. Anonymous6/04/2012

    It wasn't me, but my husband. He repaired our 16-year-old lawn mower so well that now even I can start it. We'd been discussing purchase of a new larger (self-propelled, not riding) mower that would cut down the amount of time spent mowing the lawn, but it wasn't in the budget. Saved us a whole lot of money.

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  18. I've not been good about repairs but this article is inspirational. So true about poor quality workmanship and things breaking quickly. I buy everything except socks and underwear at the thrift shop and yard sales and cut my pants into shorts too.

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  19. This isn't my most recent, but I was reminded of it the other day when my daughter pulled it out and put it on. :)

    https://tmmartist.wordpress.com/2011/09/18/a-little-alteration-in-my-life/#

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  20. My husband has a pair of zip-off cargo pants that are his old, worn, "weekend" pants. They have developed many holes over the years, which I have repaired, and then repaired again. Every time I do, I feel like I'm adding some love and caring with each stitch.

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  21. That's a great fix! I've been receiving a lot of free clothes lately that are about 2-3 sizes too big. I've been slowly teaching myself to sew and tailor individual items. It's always so exciting to have new clothes that I recreated myself!

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  22. I recently asked my mother for sewing lessons, and she was very surprised, yet amused. Here in Sao Paulo, Brazil, if you're a middle classe woman, you're not even expected to know how to cook, let alone sew a piece of clothing. It's absurd and I just refuse to toss good clothes away or pay for small repairs anymore. Recently repaired my old jeans, some of my husband's shirts and a lot of my baby's clothing, because manufactures seem to be aware that the clothes are going to be used for a short period of time and make them to last about a month or two. It's ridiculous.

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    1. Most of the women of my generation (born in the 70s)here in the states never learned basic homemaking skills either. I didn't know how to fry an egg when I got married. Luckily I have learned the importance of these skills now! I agree that I am not willing to toss good clothes. One hint someone gave me a long time ago for children's clothes in which a button pops off is to sew it back on with dental floss. It is stronger.I hope to try my first attempt at making a shirt with a pattern recycling some material I purchased second hand.

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  23. That's awesomely creative, Bea! Well, I have to brag that my husband and I recently repaired our DRYER!!! We took the thing apart, cleaned it out really well, cleaned out the ducting, and googled why it stopped working and which part to replace. I thought surely I was going to be buying a new dryer, but my husband figured out exactly which part needed to be replaced-it was a small part costing only around 30 dollars! :) Now it is working great again.

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  24. Just this morning I was going on a little rant to Matt about how awesome it is to be able to sew even just a tiny bit because you can extend the life of and/or improve so many things with just the smallest amount of sewing tools and know-how. I feel like I have a clever secret when I make something good as new again!

    The cuff looks perfect! Good for you!

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  25. I find myself darning items all of the time...everything is made so cheaply!!! Even if it wasn't cheap to buy! Putting buttons back on and fixing holes in socks, stitching decorations back on my shirts and dresses! My husband has a favorite winter wool hat with a Native American beaded band! I am always stitching the band on so he doesn't lose that! And, I make repairs to many of my husbands favorite items just because he wears them for so long!

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  26. My husband is a carpenter so his work jeans often need mending but when it gets to a certain point they do turn into rags, often used when staining wood. I've also repaired some of his lounge pants for when he relaxes at home. My next project (and I am not a great seamstress by any means) is turning a black pair of jeans that my daughter gave me into capris.

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  27. Having recently become full-time RVers we've really had to pair down our possessions. In doing so, repairing and reusing items has taken on more importance. Recently, I sewed up a tear in the Sierra Club backpack (my favorite and most used bag) I received when I made a donation. I also have resewn the toe portion of my hubby's wool hiking socks (I have no idea why they split at the top toe section!!!) and cut a pair of old worn out socks into "gloves" for working out with my kettlebells (better than expensive workout gloves and FREE).

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  28. I've got an old pair of jeans that I've been patching and re-patching since high school. I'm not very good at sewing, so I use iron-on patches (you can buy stuff that you iron on to the fabric and then iron the fabric onto other fabric) and embellish them in some places with some simple stitches.

    I should probably repurpose them somehow, but they're just so much more comfortable than my other pairs - and they're completely unique now! I get people asking me where I bought them all the time.

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  29. The only class my mother insisted I take in high school was sewing. I am so glad. I have been able to repair, alter and make many things over the years. My most recent sewing fix was to re-sew the webbed seat back on my favorite chair on my balcony. I had rescued the chair from a neighbor’s discards years ago and over time the stitching rotted. So after some stitches with strong twine it is fixed good as new for more years of balcony sitting! I’ve also been able to barter my sewing skills over the years for tangible items we needed.
    Sometimes you have to be very creative when repairing things. My husband’s favorite shorts got a bleach mark on them so I used a beach and water mix in a squirt bottle to “tie dye” them. They look really cool and he is excited to have them back. We also fixed our canopy for our gazebo with large binder clips. They don’t sell replacement covers to fit our gazebo anymore. The one we bought was just a little too big so I used large binder clips to gather the extra fabric and attach it to the frame. Works great!

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  30. Anonymous6/05/2012

    Terrific repair. I do have one question for you, what do you do with the un-reusable leftover fabric? I'm personally struggling with figuring out what to do with cloth from old clothes, towels, etc. that is no longer reusable. Is it compostable?

    Thanks for posting,
    Brandy

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    Replies
    1. If it's 100% cotton, yes it's compostable!

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    2. Our local Goodwill takes torn, stained, scrap clothing and fabric and sends it to be recycled. It is used as insulation, such as inside of car door panels, amongst other things. Most of our second-hand shops just throw away scrap/damaged fabric, but Goodwill puts it to use and keeps it out of the landfill. I don't know if this is true across the country, but you might look into it for at least anything not 100% cotton.

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    3. I use a lot of scraps like that for rags around the house that I can reuse. And if it's to small and cotton I put it in the compost. As for synthetics (I know many try and avoid synthetics, but as an outdoor guide, it is unavoidable) but when that wears out (after repeated repair of course) I can send it to Patagonia who recycles synthetic fibers to reuse in new products: http://www.patagonia.com/us/common-threads/ I can't wait for the day that every company is doing something similar!

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    4. Anonymous6/07/2012

      i cut up old towels into washcloth sizes and just quickly zig zag around them with my sewing machine. good for wash rags in the kitchen or dust cloths.

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    5. This is exactly what I do and I can also double up squares cut from old sweatshirts and sweatpants into kitchen pot holders which are outrageously expensive to buy new BTW!

      When my daughters, who have become expert goodwill shoppers, ruin or stain a nice top with a great pattern or colors, it can often be re purposed as a square or oblong scarf/bandanna for neck accents or depending on the fabric rolled and braided into a colorful bracelet or headband. It is all about the colors, fabric and patterns, and nowadays, even when they are shopping they are looking down the road for other uses of already used garments. Only the items with the most versatility and potential are purchased.

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  31. I know how to repair and sew,this is one of the stuff that I learned from my grade school.But I have no time becasue of my hectic sched on my work. You did a great job!

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  32. My husband works for the Forest Service building and repairing trails and wears out the inside cuffs of pants like no one I've ever seen. Last fall he was convinced he need to buy some new work pants but after looking through the repairs, I knew I could fix all of them. He bought one pair of Carhartts that he got a GREAT deal on, they fit in the waist but were almost 6 inches too long so I shortened and hemmed those, then got to work making big sturdy patches on the other 4 pairs--it's hard not to break needles on fabric that thick, but they look great! He actually shows them off to people : ) I also made my own Kindle "envelope" with fabric I already had. My next project is making more produce bags for the grocery store. As a 28 y.o. I'm pretty weird for knowing how to sew, but am so thankful my mom taught me as a young child and I've put it to use on so many things. For those who don't know how to sew or have more challenging projects, a friend just told me she found a seamstress who will hem pants for $10 and do many other projects as well. That sounds very worthwhile especially for clothing you love but doesn't fit anymore.

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  33. Anonymous6/06/2012

    I keep the seamstress I go to very busy. I am a petite person and EVERYTHING needs alterations. Sewing is just not one of my talents and I'd rather pay someone than go through such a frustrating task. I envy people who can repair, hem, and even sew a button on. The repair job on this jacket is awesome!! Can't wait for your book to come out! Thank you.

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  34. Anonymous6/06/2012

    I had a few small orangey spots (tomato sauce?) on the front of a very nice white cotton cardigan that would not come out, even with bleach. I used cotton embroidery floss to make little red flowers and green leaves/stems to cover them - and it's really an adorable look! I love wearing it.

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  35. A lot of people have posted about turning old jeans into cut-offs or capris, but you can also make a skirt by cutting along the inner seams. I used fabric from an old halter top to sew in the center to add color and make the skirt flare a bit. I also sewed some old ribbon from a gift into the pockets (sort of threaded it through) to add some more flare. Very fun and not too hard to make! :)

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  36. Minnezona6/06/2012

    I also turned a pair of unattractive-length capri pants into just above the knee shorts by a quick run on the sewing machine, and they are now amazing and look great for work.

    I've also dyed a lot of clothing...some of my tired looking favorite light colored cotton clothes have been RIT dyed into vibrant blues and greens.

    I've recycled my worn out sweaters into felted drink coasters for Christmas gifts as well.

    I always use my worn out socks to scrub my bathroom and kitchen. Haven't used paper towels in years.

    And of course, repaired my laptop with some easy fixes from Ebay parts.

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  37. Heather6/08/2012

    Does anyone out there have any good uses for old bras?

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    1. Anonymous6/09/2012

      they're a great base for costumes-maybe see if your local theatre groups are interested?

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    2. Anonymous6/18/2012

      Vertical melon garden. Get a large window box, put it against a wall and tack up some sturdy twine or a trellis. Let the melon vines climb up the twine trellis, and when melons begin to swell up, use the bras to support them. Very cheeky.

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    3. Lucy in Pembs6/20/2012

      In the UK, Oxfam have just done a huge campaign for more bras to go to goodwill as ladies apparantly hoard these more than anything else and don't donate them. There was a survey done in the countries that they support and the most requested item of clothing was bras. So donate away! They even asked for ones that are falling apart as the materials are extracted and recycled if they can't be worn.

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  38. I know what you mean about the poor quality of clothing these days! My son (and every one of his friends) wear out the knees of their pants and jeans so quickly. We mend until they get to an unmendable state and the we make them into shorts. We do the same with PJ pants, the kids wear the PJ shorts when it's warm.
    My Mom sews my daughter dresses in styles that are roomy on the top so that she can wear them as tops (with leggings) as the dresses become shorter. I also saw a Mom who cut her daughter's dresses into skirts once she grew out of the top part. One dress can last years!
    ~ joey ~

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  39. I like this blogs.. It's very nice and informative blog…. Thanks for sharing with us. Lea Industries

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  40. Anonymous6/10/2012

    My husband can fix anything, and has!! He is great. I can mend some. Most memorable recently - two teenage boys up on chairs, in their underwear, so I could take in the seams on dress pants they wanted to wear to a dance, that night of course. My middle son is not adverse to getting out the machine and fixing his clothes. He did a great job mending the seam on his favorite pair of boxers.

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  41. Anonymous6/11/2012

    Recently, I started to freshen up t-shirts using Rit fabic dye with great results. Very easy and very fun to do. I have saved many stained t-shirts from the garbage.

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  42. Anonymous6/11/2012

    This seems a good place to mention what a joy my old Singer portable sewing machine has been over the years. It's a model from the late 1930, and is quite beautiful: black iron with gold filigree designs. It is very simple machine, no zig zag or reverse stitch. But it's as solid as a rock, extremely dependable, and only requires occasional oiling. I paid $15 for it in 1966 and never could have imagined I'd still be using it all these years later. It's gone through a theater costume design phase, leather craft projects, clothing construction (of course), upholstery, boat cushion fabrication, etc. And a ton of repairs. Just last week, it was put to use mending shirts cuffs.

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  43. I usually cut of the sleeves of the children's T-shirts when the underarm area get too tight, and turn them to, sleveeless shirt, singlets or spagetti strap tops. I do the same with the turtleneck and cut off the turtleneck and just make a simple V neck. Longpants to shorts too, kids' and mine. :)

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  44. Interesting thread- pardon the pun- here-- very traditional along gender lines for the most part. I must think like a man: when I saw the word "repair" in Bea's question, my brain couldn't have been farther away from thinking about sewing as repair. When it comes to the things I have most recently repaired around the house: I re-wired an old lamp, constructed a "new" computer out of the usable parts of several old ones, repaired three holes in my drywall with Plaster of Paris, re-glued three broken picture frames that most folks would have thrown out and made new shelving for my home-built (by me) tool bench out of pieces of the old back fence that fell over last year (tool bench ,too, is completely built from discarded wood that I scavenged form all over Seattle) Any other gals out there handy with a hammer, solderer, glue-gun, electronics? Just curious! (And yes, I do sew as well...on a 1967 Singer that still works just *fine*...they really knew how to build them to last back then!)

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    1. Anonymous6/18/2012

      I am! I usually do the appliance repair; easier than working on ordnance like I did in the Navy! Only recently have I renewed interest in mending and sewing, so I had the same train of thought. This month's projects were simple (but multiple) shelves for our growing Lego collection, lighting for the carnivorous plants, and a pair of wrap pants for my 3 month old. Still on the docket: tightening the table legs that my toddler is shaking apart on a weekly basis and shelves and lighting for an indoor herb garden. Oh what I wouldn't give for a sunny patio!

      Now, if I could only get access to all the parts of my air conditioner. The apartment complex's maintenance crew can't fix my system (it isn't even installed correctly) and probably aren't even EPA certified. But blowing the whistle puts several guys out of work in already cruddy economy and stirs up a lot of trouble with management. They'd have to hire a proper certified crew, or subcontract real appliance folks, which would hike the rent we can barely afford. :( I'd tell them to let me have access, but my own certification ran out years ago.

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  45. Great topic. My husband and I repaired the ice maker on the fridge door. Actually, I pried the face plate off and when he came home and saw the wires dangling there, he decided he better help me. It was tricky but we saved a lot of money on the repair.
    Now, if someone has some advice how to fix underwire protruding from a bra, or those little holes you sometimes get in T-shirts - I'd love to hear it!

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  46. Oh wow ingenious! This is the first post of yours I've read and BAM surprised and delighted, your mending ideas brain is magnificent I wouldn't have thought of that in a million years :)

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  47. Hi Bea. My name is Anna Claire Ferchaud. I'm a Natural Resources and Ecology major at Louisiana State University. I've been dabbling with the idea of starting a Zero Waste College Student blog now that I have been religiously following yours for the past six months. I'm moving into my first apartment on August 4th, so it would start at the very beginning of my journey and would be a very different perspective. I was just wondering if maybe you had an opinion on it. Also, if I do go through with this idea, I was hoping I could reference your blog. You are the expert;)
    Thanks for your time!
    Anna Claire

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  48. I've been reading blog posts about how wasteful of a society we are, even with topics like shoes. I have made a a point to avoid cheaply-made shoes from Payless & Target, and I pay more attention to the make of footwear (glued vs. stitched). My dear husband's nice pair of shoes was torn apart unexpectedly the other day, and rather than research options for new shoes, he took it upon himself to go to the local shoe repairman and have a new sole fitted to the shoe. Win for the landfill; win for our economy; win for our wallet!

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  49. We repair lots of stuff. First, if you can't sew, there are washable fabric glues that work well for minor repairs.
    Second, use extra fabric to make a handy hidden pocket for those women's pants without any. I cut out the pockets of old men's shirts that are not wearable and leave an extra piece above the top and bottom to make attaching it easier if necessary trim it off, but you will save some headaches by saving these. I seem to always need a pocket in my pants. And last, go to Youtube.com and type in the type of repair you want to do. Someone there has already figured it out. I've learned a lot of new things by watching videos there. Good Luck.

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    1. Anonymous7/23/2012

      Hehe, I do the opposite: I always sew the pockets of pants or skirts. No side pockets means a slimline figure.
      Anyway, that's something that I do. No need for a taylor there. But I always have a contact handy for serious alterations or something custom made.

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  50. I am feeling really proud about a "fix" that I made to my mother's food processor. She had taken it to the vacation house, but couldn't remember if it worked or not. When I plugged it in, it worked perfectly, but the stem has swollen, so the discs and the blades couldn't slide down the stem or back up without being "pried". I tried cleaning everything quite well and then tried a little non-stick spray, but even with this, getting the blades and disks on was a tiring proposition. Finally I bought some sandpaper and used that on the stem. Now everything moves easily! (and we have a working food processor at the vacation house!)

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  51. Access to the path is denied when it tried to write to a file. I gave user ASPNET write permission, but that didn't solve the problem. Orange County oven repair 

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