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How to Fix Holes in Clothing (And Help the Environment by Doing So)

Now, I know that this is going to make me sound like a huge Boomer, but I really do think that we teenagers have really forgotten the value of fixing our own clothes. I’m serious! Learning how to fix your own clothes is great for so many reasons. First, it’s better for the environment. I know so many people who throw out shirts and socks that are perfectly wearable except for the fact that they have a couple little holes, and while it might not seem like a big deal to you personally, that wasted clothing adds up fast. According to business website The Balance, over 15 million tons of textile waste are generated in the United States every year—but while 75% of clothing discarded by clothing manufacturers is recycled into new pieces, we consumers only recycle about 15% of the nearly 80 pounds per person per year of clothing that we throw out, with most of it going to the landfill. Add in the fact that synthetic fibers like polyester and nylon can take over a century to decompose, and we’ve got a huge environmental problem on our hands. Luckily, learning how to fix your own clothes can be massively helpful to reducing this impact. By extending the life of an article of clothing by 3 months, a household’s carbon footprint can be reduced by up to ten percent! With a needle, thread, and a little bit of practice, you’ll have those pesky little holes sewed up in no time at all—even if you’ve never used a sewing needle in your life!

What You Need to Fix Your Clothes

Fixing holes in clothing only requires a few simple tools:

  • Embroidery needle - you can find a pack of these for as little as $1.50 at Joann Fabric or other crafting stores

  • Thread - ideally, you’re going to want to use thread that is the same color as whatever piece of clothing you are fixing, but for the purposes of this tutorial, I’m using a color that’s easier to see against the gray fabric

  • Tennis ball or other round object - often called a “darning egg,” a round object such as a tennis ball holds the hole open for you as you sew

  • Scissors - use them to cut your thread

  • Whatever item of clothing that you need fixed!

Step 1 - Place your item of clothing around your tennis ball or other round “darning egg,” making sure that the right side is facing you—do NOT turn your item inside out.

Step 2 - Thread your needle, and tie a knot at the end. We don’t want the thread slipping through the fabric!

Step 3 - Take your needle and insert it into the fabric, a few millimeters BELOW where the hole begins, then pull through. Make sure that you insert your needle on the inside of the fabric, as shown in the photo. This will make the knot stay on the inside of your garment when you take it off of the darning egg.

Step 4 - With your needle, take one stitch to the right of the hole. In order to take a stitch, insert your needle into the fabric, then without pulling your needle out of the cloth, push the tip of the needle through the fabric a millimeter or so away from where the needle first entered the fabric. See the photo for an example.

Step 5 - Pull the needle through.

Step 6 - Repeat steps 4 and 5 on the opposite side of the hole.

Step 7 - Repeat this process, alternating between sides of the hole. By the time that you reach the top, your stitches should look like a ladder, as shown in the photo.

Step 8 - Now, holding your darning egg steady, gently pull on the thread at the top of the hole. The stitches will start to close!

Step 9 - Keep pulling the thread until the hole is completely closed.

Step 10 - Once the hole is closed, insert your needle back into the last stitch that you made. Start to pull the thread through, but not all the way! You’re going to want to leave a little loop at the end for your needle to go through.

Step 11 - Insert your needle in the loop and pull through.

Step 12 - Insert your needle about halfway down the hole, like so, and pull through.

Step 13 - Cut your thread.

You have now fixed your hole!

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