History in the Making

History in the Making

5 Tips to Repair and Refresh Your Clothing, Style File Friday

Taking proper care of your clothing and accessories can go a long way to ensuring that you get the most out of it! So much of clothing is thrown out without a second thought because people might not immediately know how to fix it/repair it- I promise it’s not as difficult as it looks! These are my go-to tips to repair and refresh your wardrobe with things that are easily accessible and don’t require you to watch 5 YouTube videos to be able to do. This is a skill that’s been lost for a few generations now, but it’s useful for every single one of us!
5 Ways to Repair & Refresh Your Clothing

I will start by sharing my previous clothing care post here– cleaning your clothing in the appropriate manner is the first step to caring for them. I firmly believe that if you aren’t going to wash your clothing properly, there’s not much of a point to any of these tips. Society has become obsessed with convenience and ease; if we can’t just throw it in the dryer or it doesn’t come fitting perfectly, we throw it out and get rid of it. It’s time to go back to the older ways of keeping things for longevity! 

1) Use Shoe Polish to Refresh a Leather Purse

This largely depends on the type of leather that the purse is made out of, but I would highly recommend using shoe polish to give your leather purse new life! As with everything else, you need to make sure that the polish matches the colour of the leather and you should test it on a piece that doesn’t usually show (typically a small part of the strap or the bottom of the bag). Pick up the polish on a paper towel or soft cloth, gently rub it into the purse, and wipe again with a clean cloth in five minutes- you will have a remarkably fresh bag to use! Tip: do a quick google on your handbag to ensure that it is real leather, as leather polish can damage materials that aren’t leather.
Shoe Polish

2) Use the Steam From Your Shower to Remove Wrinkles

It always surprises me how many people don’t know this- hang your wrinkled clothing in your steamy bathroom after you’ve had a shower to remove any wrinkles! Take advantage of the steam- hang it on the shower curtain rod for 10-15 minutes, with the door closed, and then use your hands to gently smooth out any persistent wrinkles. I have even used this trick on dry clean only items, which is a good way to prolong the period between cleanings. What I love about this is that there is no direct heat placed on the fibres (allowing for less potential damage), and you aren’t using any extra electricity or energy to do it! A good habit to get into is to always hang the clothing you are going to wear next in the bathroom after a shower, to always take advantage. Tip: some thicker and stiffer fabrics may still need to actually be directly steamed or ironed to remove wrinkles.

3) Remove Scents with Newspaper and Fresh Air

Sometimes you buy an item off a sale group and it arrives with a heavy smell of perfume that wasn’t noted, sometimes you are out with friends and walk by a group of smokers, sometimes you don’t realise that a fire is as smoky as it is. In any of these cases, you end with clothing and accessories that hold that smell for ages. I’ve found the best way to get rid of the smell is to use newspaper and fresh air! Newspaper will absorb most scents, and packing with newspaper (in the case of a purse or shoes) or wrapping with newspaper will do the bulk of removal. Hanging it outside for a day or two will go a long way to removing any remaining scent, and typically leaves a fresh lack of scent. You can also use baking soda, but I find that it leaves its own scent behind. If I do use baking soda, I always follow with hanging outside. Tip: be careful using newspaper with lighter/delicate clothing, as the ink may leave marks that you can’t remove.

kate-spade-cobble-hill-ellen.jpg.jpgI removed a heavy perfume smell with a tiny bit of baking soda, newspaper, and a few days outside!

4) Shaving Pills With a Razor

I shared this trick in my previous clothing care post, but I wanted to include it again here, because it’s incredibly useful. All you need is a plastic razor- do not use a good quality razor, because you won’t be able to use it to actually shave… – and the item of clothing. Carefully and gently use the razor to remove any pills on sweaters or shirts. You may have to repeat on the same spot several times, but patience pays off. (If you are too heavy-handed, you may tear the fabric.) You can also use this for something spilled on suede! After a decorating mishap, I ended up with fabric paint on my suede slippers. I was able to shave off the paint with no resulting damage to the slipper. Tip: use a new razor, as a dull razor won’t do much of anything.
De-pilled sweater

5) Basic Sewing Stitches

So, I perhaps lied a little, as this does require learning a new skill. I personally can really only successfully do an overcast stitch and  running stitch myself, but that is enough to fix basic holes on seams. I had to start sewing my own shoes for ballet around 11, so if 11 year old me learned it, adult you certainly can! I would recommend grabbing a sewing kit from Walmart, Boots, or whatever similar store you have. I prefer to have one at home that has a full pair of scissors, a pin cushion, and several colours of thread rather than the truly basic one that I have with me at all times, as you will appreciate having more options and supplies. (It’s usually about $5 CAD, instead of $2, so not a huge jump.) Tip: use this guide/ how-to from Miss Sews-It-All for basic info on sewing! 

Stitch Glossary
Via Pinterest

How do you refresh your clothing to make it last? 
Until tomorrow,
The Historian
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34 thoughts on “5 Tips to Repair and Refresh Your Clothing, Style File Friday”

  • I went through a phase recently where loads of my clothes needed stitching. Whether it be small holes from the washing machine or buttons come off! It is definitely a good skill to know!

  • I’m all about the shaving clothes when they get bobbley! It is such a good tip that it’s awesome that you shared it twice. ?

  • I thought I commented on this already but it looks like I didn’t. I read this the other day and absolutely love it, especially the stitching chart. I know how to sew but many people don’t so these basics are great. I find myself sewing holes and tears in clothing all the time. Most times I can fix them, sometimes I can’t. I repaired a pillow for my son last week.

    • I had to learn because of all of my canvas and Pointe shoes for ballet (no one will sew 3-4 pairs a month for you, lol) and it is one of the most useful things I know- I have fixed so many small holes and lost buttons at work for people that I can’t keep track of them. You don’t have to be a seamstress, but basic sewing skills will take you SO FAR!!

      • That reminds me, I too sewed a button for a gentleman at work. When I did this, I vowed to teach my sons how to sew on a basic button b/c they don’t have home ec in school anymore.

  • Had no clue about the newspapers so thank-you. Just wanted to mention re: leather and shoe polish, if you aren’t sure/ don’t have the right colour, use a clear or nude one. It’ll be a good refresher for in the meantime (also works well on shoes) and then when you can, you can get the right colour (also sometimes the proper shade doesn’t exist so nude/ neutral is a good option in that case).

      • go to a shoe store- it will be sold as neutral (generally looks white) but it comes out clear. Any shoe store worth their salt should have it (or can get it for you if they’re out). A hard colour is red- in various shades for some reason.

        • I’ve not actually been able to get it in stock anywhere, and the two clear polishes I bought online turned out to be duds 🙁 I recommend trying to avoid red and green, both are near impossible to actually match properly!

  • I was just reflecting on this the other day, well that and a long absence from visiting here…I digress.
    Skills lost in time. Even in the last generation. Not just the clothing fixes you mention, but the ability to fix things, cook things and with modern tech invading everything I do worry about language and actually conversing. It first struck me when going through chattels after my dad passed away. The volume of tools in his garage. From carpentry to cars, the immense range of sewing inventory of my mum. It reminded me of days gibe by with a tiny dustbin which rarely got filled. Now I have three large bins for different waste. Different times maybe, but modern society is driven by buy new rarher than fix. I even believe manufacturing is geared to exactly that now. Lifespan it, outdate it and make consumers buy new rather than repair. Much food for thought.
    Fascinating post and some very good tips…even if I did ramble off topic!

    • I am trying my hardest to get back to that lifestyle, because the amount of physical waste and money that goes to replacing things that can easily be fixed is astonishing. As a society, convenience seems to be the only priority, and all for what, more time to spend on Facebook?? I really enjoy cooking and making things from scratch, and I am constantly asked why I bother when you could get it pre-made. Well, I enjoy the process, there are often more nutrients, and it is cheaper! People value their time far too high- 5 minutes of quickly stitching up a hole is not worth more than a new $35 shirt. I just wish there were more places to learn these skills!!

      • I hear you. Once upon an age these skills were passed down. I can still do most things, but when it comes to appliances the issue now is getting them repaired is on parity with buying new or very close to make the repair pointless given new machine and warranty. That said, sewing is not complicated and clothes are easier to maintain than people think. Trouble to me is everything is escalating. New skills not passed down means even fewer remain in the next generation. That goes on until there are no skills left. Net result is they are almost cultured into having to buy new, take the easy meal option and to heck with the consequences, not just bad diet, lifestyle and often obesity, but more trash to throw away. It becomes a self destructive cycle that spirals ever in on itself. Ooh the posts on this are huge!

        • I will admit to not fixing my own car, because I have no idea what I’m doing and that could be dangerous for all of us. However, I am trying my hardest to learn what skills I can from what is widely available to me- thankfully my parents are fairly handy, but a lot of my friends are not in the same position as me. I wish that there were more classes in school with these skills (that aren’t called the “easy” or “filler” classes), and that community centres and leisure guides would offer it for adults. To take a sewing class as an example, is quite expensive here- you are looking at $250+ for a 4 hour course, plus materials. I’m almost thinking of doing a how-to series on these skills in the summer!!

          • Modern cars are way more complex nowadays so anything out of the ordinary I leave to those with the kit to fix it! Like you I’m in no rush to create a dangerous situation! Wow, how much for a sewing class? Shoot that’s not going to help skills return much. To think once upon a time they were not necessary as generations passed them down. I think that’s a great idea too. How to series are proper useful in this day and age. Kudos to you ?

  • Great list! I am very sensitive to fragrances and sometimes struggle to get them out of secondhand clothes. I’m definitely going to try the newspaper trick. Thanks!

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