Oh, you sew! Can you hem my trousers?

Heard that one before?

When I tell people I sew, most people immediately think of all the clothes they have that need mending. And how easy it would be for me to hem their trousers, sew on a missing button, repair a hole. Let it be clear, I love sewing. I hate mending. And I reckon most people that sew would tell you the same thing.

But I’m guilty of such faux pas myself, in the past I’m sure I’ve said to a teacher “Oh! how nice it must be to have the summer off.”

To a physio, “I’ve a really annoying pain in my shoulder, when I move my arm like this, what should I do?” 

To a DJ “Play something that everyone will get up and dance to”.

To a traffic warden… actually I don’t talk to traffic wardens.

But this post is not about teachers, physiotherapists, DJs and certainly not about traffic wardens, it’s about sewing for people who sew and people who do not sew. For people who think that if a t-shirt has a hole in it, then you might as well bin it. If a zip is broken, then that’s the end of that. And if you rip your ridiculously expensive North Face coat on the gate post as you’re rushing to collect your child from school and all the feather blow out down the road and you try and stop them but it seems like you’ve just murdered a pigeon and you’re already late and it’s freezing cold and you have no other coat and…

Oh! erm… well.. that’s what happened to ‘a friend’, it wasn’t me, I’m never late 😉

OK, it was me, but I did not buy myself a new coat, I fixed it and with my magical mending stitch, I’ll tell you about that later because you don’t need a sewing machine to mend, neither do you need a friend with a sewing machine, you really can do it yourself. However, you might need this book…

fix your clothes front cover2

Fix Your Clothes: The Sustainable Magic of Mending, Patching, and Darning
by Raleigh Briggs is a short, 63 page, paperback book encouraging people to mend clothes rather than buy new clothes, to save money and help the planet.

“Clothes are expensive, and the clothing industry is the 2nd most polluting industry worldwide, and responsible for oppressive labor conditions around the globe. It just doesn’t make you feel good about buying new clothes.”

fix your clothes 2

This fun little handwritten book with cute illustrations gives practical advice and instruction or a quick and dirty solution on how to:

  • replace buttons
  • repair seams
  • patch and darn holes
  • hem
  • fix broken zips
  • waterproof: canvas, leather, light fabrics and nylon

 fix your clothes 1

If you don’t mend your clothes already, now’s the time to start. Or if you know someone who could do with this handy guide to fixing and mending clothes in a give a man a fish kinda way, then you’ve come to the right blog.

Smile, there’s a GIVEAWAY!!!

I’ve teamed up with Microcosm Publishing and we are offering Needle and Ted readers the chance to win a copy of Fix Your Clothes by Raleigh Briggs.

Simply leave a comment below telling me how you are going to save the planet one stitch at a time. Ha! just kidding any comment will do, 3 winners will be picked at random. Giveaway closes 30 April 2017.

10% off

You can also receive 10% off your entire order at Microcosm Publishing, not just books, go and see if there is anything that takes your fancy. Then enter the coupon code “MADEIT” at checkout for your 10% discount.

Want to hear about my Magical Mending Stitch? Read on…

Bernina 350 stitches

Stitch No. 14 on my Bernina 350 may look like just another decorative stitch but, it has magical powers. If you haven’t got a Bernina 350, check your machine stitches, it’s quite possible that you have the same stitch or similar.

slit before

Imagine you have a rip in your favourite dress (or coat). We all know how unethical it is to just chuck things away. Magical Mending Stitch to the rescue…

stitch 14 default setting

Stitch down the centre of the rip and it will magically join together. The default setting (stitch length 2) is not bad, but it could be better…


The seam does not pass the stretch test, as you pull the seam, you can see holes. Not great.

But if you reduce the stitch length to 1, the result is magical. Nearly invisible, (you must use matching thread of course). Certainly invisible from afar…


And here’s the stretch test…


There are other times when the magical mending stitch can come in handy for butting fabric together to make a seam. So keep this in mind, because Stitch No. 14 on the Bernina 350 is magic.

“Buy less, choose well, make it last.”

Vivienne Westwood

39 thoughts on “Oh, you sew! Can you hem my trousers?

  1. Thanks for the book recommendation, I always have a huge bag of ‘things to mend’ stashed under the stairs, maybe this will help me get them back into circulation.
    In fact I might buy a copy for Caroline, whenever she borrows my clothes they seem to come back having suffered some sort of calamity! 😉


  2. The book looks practical and cute! 🙂 I love that it is all hand drawn. People often ask me to sew things for them. I enjoy seeing but I have so little time! In my spare time I’m not really fond of making curtains for other people 😉 though when my little brother asks I will fix up holes in his clothes!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m not commenting because I want to win, I’m commenting because you’re sooo funny! But seriously, I don’t want to win…I might be motivated to actually mend! In my house, I’ve found that the only way things get mended is if I do it right away. If they go into the mending pile (okay, okay, box) they never make it out. It’s like the Bermuda Triangle or something…


  4. I really want to get into making (and mending) my own clothes – but I’m still trying to wrap my head around handstitching, and I struggle with sewing machines. I have a pile of clothes that need mending that I’m determined to repair myself, so I could really use this book! lol


  5. Mending is not my favourite either. I love to sew but mending not zo much, I do mend my clothes, just because it is the responsible thing to do.
    And saving the planet one stitch at a time? I do buy most of my fabric from a shop that only sells end of bold fabrics from designers, that otherwise would go in the bin. Just an excuse to buy nice things to be honest.


  6. Yeay! Great giveaway!
    My MIL fixes our clothes without asking & she only knows one stitch – zigzag.
    You can imagine…..

    Thanks for the Bernina tip. I have a 730 record, so off to see if there is a similar stitch on mine.


  7. I know some basic mending techniques but would love to learn more! It makes me so happy to rescue an unworn item that just needs a little love to make it usable again.


  8. You know I’m already saving the world with my sewing hahaha but still I’d love to win that cool book for sure! Thanks for the stitch advice, I have to give it a try, I think my machine might have something similar. 🙂


    • And so you shall have it Amanda. Congratulations you are the first random winner of the giveaway. Please send me an email with your address details so that I can pass them on to Microcosm Publishing.

      Thank you so much for taking time out to read my blog post and for playing along with the giveaway.


  9. I’ll have to run upstairs to check and see if my Bernina has the Magical Stitch”. If not, trade in time? No. Not very Earth Day. When I admitted to sewing recently I was asked if I could sew a gaggle of suffragette sashes for the county fair. Ee gads. I’m all for women’s rights, but my sewing queue is bigger than my mending pile.


  10. I am the willing mender for *family*. If you’re not related to me (or my SIL,) forget it. I will happily direct you to people who will hem your pants for you… for a price. But not me. Because I have precious little time for sewing as it is and I will mend a garment until it fully dies and is beyond repair. And I’m talking so thin it’s see-through and beyond repair. That said, I’d like to learn how to do it better…


  11. I totally need this book! With three girls, and a mom who volunteers at a thrift store, I have a large bin of clothes that need repurposing in some way, shape or form. I have a really hard time throwing any textiles in the garbage . A book like this may help get the bin shakin’.


  12. So here goes my mind. Oh I love that book, so practical, and handwritten and all… I want it! Oh wait I can actually try to win it! Woohoo!!! Let’s try! ….Oh no….Wait! If I win it then I should actually start mending things… blegh! I do not want to mend things… But maybe I should at least put some new elastic in this tulle skirt with all stretched out elastic in it. Mmmmm, let’s do that tomorrow… Well maybe I do need that book to kick my ass….


  13. Oh my goodness, thanks for the stitch. I have something similar on my sewing machine i think. Have to try it out, because there’s a duvet cover waiting to be mended.
    And my mother in law is visiting us this week (she helps out with schoool holidays), and she brought two things to be mended!!! A woolen skirt that is too wide and a bag with a torn handle…. Oh no, i hate when that happens. And because she is in a different country most of the time, i don’t have the heart to tell her to pay someone to do this and let me make new things 😉


    • Oh no!!! That really made me laugh that someone is bringing their mending to you even from another country. Ha ha ha hahaahhaaa!!!! I think your mother-in-law NEEDS the book. Good luck (with the giveaway and the mending of the bag handle 😉


    • I hope you are able to fix your pants Claire with the help of “Fix your Clothes” because you are the second lucky winner of the giveaway. I have sent you an email. Please reply with your address details and thank you for playing along.


  14. Well, I composed a lovely reminiscence on mending beloved clothing and WordPress ate it. So… I hope I win a copy of this beautiful book! Thank you 🙂


  15. I was asked to participate in a “Repairathon” at our local library where volunteers fix people’s clothes for free! I learned that it’s much more enjoyable to mend someone else’s clothes than to tackle that growing pile next to my own sewing machine!

    Great giveaway, great book, by the way.


  16. I’d love to learn how to properly mend my clothes! I always find the dress at the thrift store that’s perfect except for a hole in the armpit.


  17. This is the ideal book to give my beautiful 22yr old daughter as she is now independently living! Ie in her student flat. But still sending clothes home with the “can you just fix this..” I think I will get a copy for myself too. Thanks for your blog.


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