Bring Back the Sewing Kit

Let's start saving the planet, one stitch at a time.

sewing kit

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I grew up watching my grandparents mend their clothes. A pedal sewing machine was kept handy at home. A nifty companion to it was an elaborate sewing kit, stashed with a wide variety of needles, buttons, threads, and other colorful bits and bobs. Each time a button popped on my grandfather’s shirt, he would wield the needle and thread and sew it back on, albeit clumsily. For more elaborate rips, he would refer to the expert skills of my grandmother.  

Mending, unfortunately, over the years, seems to have gone out of style, especially with the advent of fast fashion and its take-make-dispose philosophy. It is estimated that the average American dumps a staggering 70 pounds of clothing per year.

It’s time to bring back the sewing kit to stretch out the life of your favorite togs. Clothes with light wear and tear deserve a second inning, after some TLC. Here are some good reasons why the sewing kit deserves prime shelf space in your closet—and some advice on how to sharpen your sewing skills.

Help! I Don’t Know How to Stitch 

I learned basic needle work, macramé, and knitting at the weekly home science class at school. For the novice, sewing can be a tad intimidating, but fear not. There are several resources to guide you. Fashion Revolution has created short and straightforward how-to guides for mending holes in sweaters, doing basic darning, and sewing on a button.

We also love Lily Fulop's book, "Wear, Repair, Repurpose—A Maker's Guide to Mending and Upcycling Clothes", peppered with dreamy illustrations and detailed techniques on how to upcycle and repurpose clothes. Artist and writer Katrina Rodabaugh, author of "Mending Matters" and "Make, Thrift, Mend," holds online mending classes to sharpen your seamstress skills.

Otherwise, head over to YouTube and watch the videos at The Essentials Club. Visible mending is all the rage now, so don’t cower under messy needlework. Instead, choose bright embroidery threads and let your newly acquired sewing skills stand out. 

What Do I Need in My Sewing Kit?

Building a sewing kit requires just the basics—a few needles, neutral color threads (I end up using black, white, and blue the most, but rummage through your closet to see what colors you wear the most), a sharp thread cutter, a seam ripper (to rip through the seam if you’ve packed on extra pounds), and buttons and hooks, if needed. Throw in chalk, a measuring tape, a thimble, and some color pins. A mini-version of just the basics is handy for travel. 

Will Mending Clothes Make an Impact?

Fast fashion’s cheap, low quality and throwaway clothing has created an adverse impact on both environment and people. In fact, according to the World Economic Forum, 73% of discarded clothes find their way into the landfill or are burned, adding to environmental pollution. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation that promotes circular fashion says that, in the United States, an amount of clothing equal to a garbage truck is ferried to landfills or burned every second.

It’s good to know you can give clothes a new lease on life. So why discard your favorite romper that snagged on a hook? Instead, it can be mended in a jiffy at home. By sewing a patch on your jeans, darning a sweater, or fixing your holey T-shirts, you help extend their life and nip the need to buy new clothes to replace old ones. 

But There’s a Sewing Studio Next Door. Can’t I Just Drop Off My Holey Clothes There?

Needlework is multi-dimensional. A rhythmic and repetitive practice, it’s also used as a tool for mindfulness and craftivism. Sure, you can drop your clothes at the local studio, but you will miss an engaging activity that can soothe you and reduce stress. The craft of sewing has also been used as a tool to prioritize activism. What’s more, by mending clothes yourself, not only do you save on dime, you also save on time. You can fix the rips in a timely manner, bringing the clothes back to circulation in a jiffy. 

So, the next time a thread unravels on your favorite boyfriend jeans, remember, with a sewing kit on hand and some clever stitchery skills, you can sew up a storm.

View Article Sources
  1. Souchet, Francois."Fashion has a Huge Waste Problem. Here's How it Can Change." World Economic Forum, 2019.

  2. "A New Textiles Economy: Redesigning Fashion's Future." Ellen MacArthur Foundation.