We’ve all been there – you've dug out your favourite dress from your wardrobe for a last minute event and there's half a button hanging off. Or all your jeans are in the wash when you're getting ready for a Sunday walk, and the only pair you have left are those boyfriend jeans you've been meaning to shorten for months.
If you've got a needle and thread at the ready but aren't quite sure what to do with it, we enlisted The Great British Sewing Bee champion Matt Chapple to show us how to fix our old clothes. So if you've got a broken button, torn seam or need to shorten your jeans, help is at hand...
How to re-attach a button…
1. Take a length of thread from the reel, and cut it approximately 45cm (18in) long. Thread your needle and, taking the two ends of the thread, tie in a knot by creating a loop in the threads, passing the ends through the loop and drawing them tight in a knot at the end.
2. Beginning from the back of the fabric, pass the needle up through the fabric, drawing the thread through until the knot is reached. Pass the needle up through one of the holes in the back of the button, again drawing the thread through fully.
3. To help create a stem behind the button, carefully lay a cocktail stick or matchstick on top of the button and pass the needle over the top of this and down through the opposing, or diagonally opposing, hole. Continue down through the fabric close to the initial stitch. Draw the thread through fully; this should hold the stick in place.
4. Repeat another 8 times, alternating between the holes in the button to create an even pattern. On the last time up through the fabric, do not go through the button. Instead slide out the cocktail stick and pass the needle out to the side.
5. Wrap the thread 4 times around the underside of the button to create a bit of a stem and pass the needle through the fabric, close to the previous stitches, to the rear side of the fabric. Staying on the rear side of the fabric, push the needle through the end of a couple of the stitches, creating a loop in the process. Pass the needle through this loop and pull tight to knot; do this twice. Cut the thread close to the knot which you have just created.
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How to repair a torn seam…
1. Locate the tear and secure or remove any trailing loose threads. Carefully pin along the desired seam to rejoin the fabric parts. With a threaded and knotted needle place a securing stitch in the seam allowance 1.5cm (5/8in) before the seam opening. This is just a single stitch that is tied off in a knot.
2. We are now going to backstitch along the seam. This will give the seam line strength and should reduce the chances of it tearing again. Do this by slowly stitching along the original stitch line by moving along 3–4mm (1/8in) and going through both fabric layers, then move backwards half of the distance and come back through the fabric layers to your starting side.
3. Backstitch all the way along the torn seam, coming in slightly if the fabric itself is torn. At the end of the gap rejoin the original seam and continue past it 1.5cm
(5/8in). Tie off and trim the thread ends.
Read More: How to customise your jeans, with denim expert Donna Ida
How to shorten your jeans…
You will need:
A pair of jeans
Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
1. Pop on your jeans. Turn the excess hem on both legs to the inside until the bottom of the new hems are where you desire them to be. Place a few pins around the new hems to secure them in place, then carefully remove the jeans. On a medium to high heat setting, give the hem a good press to hold the new length.
2. Remove the pins and unfold the inward-turned excess. Your pressed hemline should still be clearly visible. Measure and mark a line 3cm (1¼in) below this pressed edge with the chalk, then cut along this new line using either a rotary cutter or scissors.
3. To reduce some bulk in the turned hem, trim down the first 1.5cm (5/8in) of the inner side seam with a sharp pair of scissors, taking care not to cut through all the existing stitches. Fold inwards to the wrong side a 1.5cm (5/8in) hem allowance. Press this edge well.
4. Turn the bottom edge inwards again by 1.5cm (5/8in) to create the second turn. Press the edge well and pin in place.
5. On your sewing machine, slide the extension table off the end and reveal the free arm section. This enables you to easily stitch arm and leg openings on garments.
If the opening is wide enough, slide your trouser leg onto the free-arm section of your machine, aligning your needle and the inside leg seam. Lower the presser foot into place. If the free arm is too wide for your hem or your machine doesn’t have one, don’t worry – you can still achieve the same by stitching on the inside of the leg opening.
6. Straight stitch all the way around the new hemline with a 1cm (3/8in) seam allowance. Either backstitch or tie off the thread ends to secure and trim away any excess threads.
7. Give the jeans one final press and they’re ready to wear.
Make It, Own It, Love It: The Essential Guide To Sewing, Altering And Customising is published by Jacqui Small, £20