How to Fix Clothes

Do you want to rescue a favorite old garment? Do you need to make the clothes in your closet last a little longer? Mending old clothes is a skill worth practicing, and it's not that hard.


  1. 1
    Take care of your clothing. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
    • Buy quality clothing. You often get what you pay for. The bargain T-shirt you bought at your local discount Mega-Mart is not usually designed to last very long. However, purchase price is no guarantee of quality--even an expensive boutique may be basing its price on its trendiness rather than for an eye on sturdiness. Unfortunately, price often has little or nothing to do with how well-constructed a garment is.
    • Certain brands have a reputation for quality, (such as in the USA), Land's End, L.L. Bean and Duluth Trading Company.
    • Wash the clothing according to the instructions on the label. It is also important to read these labels prior to purchasing a garment, so you are sure that you are happy to do the type of washing or dry cleaning it requires. If not, do not buy it.
    • Online reviews are often a good guide to how others have found the quality of the clothes. If a lot of people comment on flimsiness, pilling, and so on, that's a warning.
    • Close zippers and clasps when machine washing clothing.
    • Keep a set or two of older clothing around for messy or strenuous activities, such as gardening.
    • Wear an apron or smock if you are doing something messy, such as cooking or a hobby such as painting.
  2. 2
    Treat stains immediately. The specifics depend on what stain you are trying to remove and what fabric you're removing it from, but it's generally best to treat the stain as soon as you can.
  3. 3
    Learn to sew a button. You will need the button or a passable replacement and a needle and thread. The process only takes a few minutes, and it is one of the simplest and most common things to fix. You can even do it in front of the TV if you have to!
    • When you are given button and thread on the purchase of a new garment, get into the habit of keeping these in one single place for easy retrieval when needed. A small jar in the laundry room is a common tactic.
  4. 4
    One arm hole too many.
    Repair seams that have torn or come undone.
    If a hole develops along a seam, you can usually just sew it closed again. The repair will be invisible and straightforward.
  5. 5
    Patch a hole. If a garment has a large hole, you may have to apply a patch.
    • A great patch is decorative, so it becomes a feature rather than a flaw! Generally any place that has craft or sewing supplies will offer a selection of decorative patches.
    • You can use patches made of similar or the same material. (Such as using denim fabric to replaced worn-out knees on a pair of jeans.)
    • Iron-on patches exist, but have a tendency to come off. Sew-on patches (or iron-on patches that are sewn down) tend to last longer..
  6. 6
    Learn to sew a hem. It is relatively simple to hem pants and skirts, and it will allow you to adjust the length of a garment.
    • One of the most common ways to fix a damaged pair of jeans are to create shorts, or "cut-offs".
    • Another common use is to make pants a little shorter to give them a new appearance if the bottom edge is worn.
  7. 7
    Darn it. Darning is the process of rebuilding a worn fabric using a needle and thread or yarn in a process similar to weaving. It may take a bit more skill than the other techniques listed here, but it is still a good option for mending small holes and reinforcing worn spots.
    • Socks and thick denier tights made from wool, cotton, or cashmere can be made to last a lot longer with darning.
  8. 8
    Troubleshoot zippers. Follow the links to take care of your problem:
  9. 9
    Rebuild the garment or make it into something else. The classic example is making jeans into cut-off shorts when the knees are worn through, but if you are resourceful, you could restyle all sorts of worn clothing, or make bags, quilts, leg-warmers or mittens. There are many, many options.
  10. 10
    Call in the professionals. Sometimes bad things happen to good clothing, and it is not a simple fix. This is when a good professional can be really useful. He or she may be able come up with creative solutions, too. For instance, the ugly rip accidentally put in your prom dress could end up saved by creating a new hem line.
  11. 11
    Know when to let it go. There are a few circumstances in which a garment really cannot be fixed. These are:
    • The garment is threadbare and/or very fragile. Threadbare is when the fabric is worn very thin through use. Generally, it is only a matter of time before holes appear. At this point, the fabric may be completely unable to be sewn.
    • The garment has hazardous materials on it. If your favorite shirt is covered in anti-freeze, it may not be able to be safely laundered.
    • Permanent stains. You may be able to put a butterfly-shaped patch on that permanent marker stain. Perhaps you can attempt to make your bleach-stained jeans into a retro 80's piece. But sometimes, a stain cannot be removed or worked around and there is just no way around it.


  • For torn garments, try to repair them before the hole grows. As the saying goes, a stitch in time saves nine.
  • You can use a sewing machine or sew by hand for most repairs.
  • If an item of clothing is completely ruined, cut off all salvageable material and pop it into your sewing box.
  • Dry cleaners and tailors can offer mending assistance if you feel that a repair is beyond your ability.


  • If you drop a needle, find it immediately! Or else you or someone else could get hurt.
  • If using extremely sharp needles when sewing or knitting, be careful not to scratch or stab yourself.
    This may be a result of dropping a needle while sewing!

Things You'll Need

  • Small sewing kit
  • Place to keep spare buttons
  • Patches
  • Stain removal equipment

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