A Beginner’s Guide to Mending Clothes

Mending Clothing


The art of mending clothes has become a lost skill. It’s not uncommon for people to just throw out worn, ripped, or stained pieces in favor of new, cheap fast fashion trends. However, there is a growing awareness of the importance of sustainable fashion practices, and mending clothes is a simple yet powerful way to contribute to a more eco-friendly future. I’ll review some of the benefits of mending your clothes and give you the ins and outs about sewing kit essentials, basic stitches, visible and invisible mending, and how to start learning this new skill. 

What are the benefits of mending your clothes?

The fashion industry is one of the leading contributing factors to global environmental problems. An increasingly sustainable fashion industry is critical to promoting a more eco-friendly and eco-conscious future. Mending your clothes is an easy step towards a more circular, sustainable fashion economy, where clothes are used and reused rather than discarded after a few wears.

By extending the lifespan of your garments through mending, you can actively participate in reducing the environmental impact of the production and disposal of clothing. Mending clothes helps minimize the demand for new garments, saving water, energy, and raw materials. You’re also diverting textiles away from landfills by giving them a renewed life and minimizing landfill-related environmental problems.

Along with sustainability, learning how to mend clothes also saves money and lets you create unique, personalized pieces. Rather than spending money on new clothes, you spend a few cents on thread and needles to bring your clothes back to life. This is particularly important if you own high-end, designer pieces; knowing that you can mend your clothes helps you feel confident that you can wear your expensive designer clothes for years to come without having to throw them out and waste money.

Moreover, mending your clothes can add personality to your outfits, particularly if you use visible mending techniques (which we’ll discuss more below). Have a hole in your shirt? Cover it with your initial! A button fell off? Replace it with a hot pink button. Mending isn’t just practical – it can be fun, too!

Note: Mending your clothing isn’t the only way to extend the life of your clothes. How you do your laundry, organize your closet, and even wear deodorant can all impact your clothes. Check out these 10 easy hacks to make your clothes last longer.

Building your sewing kit

You’ll need some essentials in your sewing kit to start mending your clothes. Here are the key items to get you started:

  • Needles: Invest in a variety of hand-sewing needles, including sharp needles for woven fabrics and ballpoint ones for knits. You can buy a pack of 50 needles on Amazon for no more than $5.
  • Thread: You’ll need thread matching your garments’ colors to ensure seamless repairs, or you might want colorful thread to make a statement with visible mending.
  • Seam ripper: A seam ripper tool removes stitches when making alterations or repairing seams.
  • Snips: You want small, sharp scissors for precise fabric cutting.
  • Pins and pincushion: Pins keep fabric pieces together while mending, so you can ensure straight lines. A pincushion will hold your pins for easy, safe use while sewing.
  • Thimble: Thimbles protect your finger while using needles, especially when sewing through thick fabrics or multiple layers.
  • Measuring tape: A flexible, cloth measuring tape is crucial for accurate alterations and repairs.
  • Fabric markers: Fabric-specific pens and chalks help mark areas for repair and alterations, but they can easily be wiped or washed off after alterations are complete.
  • Fray check: Fray check is a liquid seam sealant that stops fabric from fraying.
  • Embroidery hoop: An embroidery hoop stretches the fabric flat to help avoid bunching. Without it, you might end up with bunched, ruffled, or misshapen material by mistake.
  • Darning mushroom: A darning mushroom helps you hold garments – like socks – in shape while you do repairs, so you don’t accidentally change the shape of the garment’s natural silhouette.
  • Fabric scraps: Keep a bag of leftover fabric during your sewing projects. If you have clothing beyond repair, consider cutting it up and keeping it in your scrap bag. This stash is great for repairs, projects, and patching clothes, especially for visible mending.

Fundamental stitches and when to use them

It can feel overwhelming learning a new skill like sewing with so many stitches and nuances to learn. But mastering the following 5 basic stitches will help you tackle most projects. 

  • The running stitch is a simple stitch used for basic repairs, attaching trims, outlining, or setting a foundation for other stitches. You simply pass the needle in and out of the fabric in a straight line. This is a great place to start when learning how to sew.
  • The backstitch is a more durable seam ideal for repairing tears or reinforcing seams that experience stress. It’s often used in detailing and embroidering as it’s delicate yet strong.
  • The whipstitch is a diagonal stitch best for sewing hems, attaching patches, or joining fabric edges together. It’s a strong stitch particularly popular for connecting two pieces of fabric.
  • Blind hem stitches create nearly invisible hems. This is perfect for shortening or lengthening pants, dresses, and curtains made of non-stretch material.
  • The buttonhole stitch creates secure, neat buttonholes. If a button has popped off your clothes, you may need to reinforce the area with a buttonhole stitch. It’s also become a popular decorative embroidery stitch.

Here are some of the easiest DIY ways to revamp your closet that you can do with little to no sewing experience.

Visible vs invisible mending

Most people think of invisible mending when they think of repairing clothes. This is when repairs are meant to be undetectable. The goal of invisible mending is to restore the garment’s original appearance by seamlessly blending the repaired area with the rest of the fabric. This type of mending includes repair types like darning, fusible interfacing, and invisible hand stitching.

But another increasingly popular type of repair work is visible mending. This embraces the concept of turning a repair into a design element or artistic expression, celebrating the stitches, patches, embroidery, and embellishments. This is a fun way to express your creativity and add uniqueness to your garments, turning them into one-of-a-kind pieces. This includes patching (contrasting or complementary fabrics), embroidery, and sashiko (a Japanese technique that uses geometric patterns).  

Where to start learning to sew 

Think of sewing as a new hobby. You’ll want to start with the basics just as you would with learning a language, fishing, or skydiving. There’s so much information available about learning how to sew, so you have plenty of resources to choose from. Ask friends or loved ones to teach you, watch YouTube videos, read books on the subject, or take a class.

Here are some great books to get you started:

You can even find a sewing class at your local library or rec center or get involved with a hobby group. The Spruce curated a list of the best online sewing classes if you prefer virtual learning, and check out these other reputable online courses:

  • Sewing Classes on Craftsy include video lessons, downloadable patterns, and step-by-step instructions for all skill levels.
  • Tilly and the Buttons is a blog and online course known for its approachable, fun, beginner-oriented approach to sewing.
  • Professor Pincushion offers tons of free resources, including 464 free videos with sewing fundamentals, garment construction, quilting, and much more.

Mending for the future

Mending clothes is an art form that’s great for the environment and your wallet. It’s the best way to extend the life of your clothes, which reduces waste, saves money, and creates a closet filled with love, purpose, and garments that mean something to you.

Everything we sell at Current Boutique is new, like-new, or in excellent condition, but some of our frequent shoppers love finding and repurposing their preloved pieces to create something totally unique with visible or invisible mending. We have some customers who love adding patches, changing hemlines, or adding trims just for fun. It’s a great way to inject your personality into the clothes you wear every day. 

Check out our most recent clothes and accessories here to find your next sustainable gem.

Carmen Lopez, President & CEO www.currentboutique.com


Hello Fashion Lovers! I've been in the fashion industry for over 15 years. I started Current Boutique with the desire to recycle amazing pre-loved designer gems for others to enjoy! I value quality, unique craftsmanship, sustainability & saving money. I am a fashion lover who is energized by the challenges and rewards of being an entrepreneur. I'm here to share tips on fashion, style, bargain shopping and business. I hope you enjoy!
XOXO, Carmen