06 January 2010

Make Minor Repairs

Resourcefulness is one of the hallmarks of a hardcore cheapskate thrifter. Things get broken sometimes. Lots of people throw them out when this occurs. Some of us t at least attempt a repair first. What's the harm? Either you pull it off, or you don't, but you're none the worse for trying.

In the last post, we discussed pressing a suit jacket at home. In this one, we'll fix a tiny hole. I bought these bullet proof yet velvet soft Polo flannels about a year ago. They're pleated, and as such I needed to talk myself into wearing them, but I'm glad I did. This winter, they've become my pants of choice on a bone chilling day. Totally windproof, and stylish to boot. (pretty snappy with yellow socks and black tassels, no?). But as they sat in storage over the Summer, our old friend the moth treated himself to wee bit of this fine wool. I'll be honest, I've worn these pants a bunch of times with the hole in them, I like them so much. It was only a small hole, after all. Today I repaired them myself.



This close-up shot of the bottom of the right leg reveals said hole. See it? Just barely visible about an inch above the cuff, in a photo taken with a macro lens. In real life, you'd never notice it, if it weren't for my penchant for wearing bright socks.


The repair I performed was quite simple really. I took a small clipping of fabric from inside the waistband, where it wouldn't be missed, and sewed it inside behind the hole. The trick lies in the way I stitched it. A while back, when I figured out how to hem pants, I learned that in order for the stitches not to show through, you simply pick up a bit of the threads on the surface of the cloth, and don't pull the stitches too tight. I applied the same principle here.



On the outside, I ran a couple of light stitches in matching grey thread, just to better attach the patch piece. Not bad, if I do say so myself.

When I worked in a men's shop, we offered re-weaving as a service. We would send garments to this place in New York, the last of its kind, as far as I know, where a moth hole this size (approximately 1/4 inch around) could be re-woven for about $50-$100, depending on the cloth. The work these old guys did was mind boggling, and I've even heard people have been known to go blind doing it...but $50 to fix a tiny hole in a pair of pants that only cost $8 in the first place is more than a little extravagant.


The moral of the story?: teach yourself to fix things. If your grandmother is still living, ask her about it...she'll tell you. And learn to embrace a reasonable amount of shabbiness in your dress. It'll set you aside as a man of style and character...as long as you don't push it and wear things shabby on purpose.


Besides, perfection is over-rated. There's not much soul in it.




22 comments:

Jake said...

I've found that the more I am able to afford nice clothes, the more interested I've become in repairing rather than replacing. It's a skill that ought to go alongside developing a decent wardrobe, and something I plan on doing a lot more of. Thanks for your very helpful post!
Love the trousers, by the way. I'm on the lookout for something like that, but still haven't found anything I like that I would exactly call 'affordable'...

JRS said...

"The moral of the story?: teach yourself to fix things." - I couldn't agree more. With pants that cost (new) ~$100+, there's no reason a 1/4" hole should relegate them to chapter 13.

James said...

I agree with your comment about perfection. It is highly over rated!

David V said...

Make do and Mend. An almost lost art. Glad you're still a practitioner.

Cyclo2000 said...

Nice job. You'd never notice it.
Any idea what's happened to Mr. Heavy Tweed J?

Sean said...

This is great! How-to posts like this are really interesting.

Dave said...

I've been trying to do a bit of this my self. What really need to do, though is lengthen the sleeves on a bunch of coats. I've been looking for a good book with the basics of repairing and altering men's clothing, but haven't come up with much yet. The best I've found is: Abrams and Albert Sewing Hints for Men, 1980. Any suggestions?

Anonymous said...

I feel like making a hole in my tweed jacket and patching it.

Sean said...

If anyone lives in or near Seattle, there is a place on 45th in Wallingford that has a sign boasting reweaving. Have only driven past and know nothing about it. I think it was on the south side of 45th

BlackPlague said...

im going to have to disagree with you a bit on this one. i have been wearing ralph lauren consistently for about 16 years now. i have come to realise that i am better off having the highly skilled tailors at Ralph Lauren mend my garments rather than the DIY approach. yes, it can be a bit pricey for what i sometimes feel are minor circumstances. however, if it came down to repurchasing the item new versus the repair? the repair wins particularly when it comes down to items that will never be mad again-the one of a kinds. i recently found an amazing blue wool Ralph Lauren crest blazer w/gold buttons at my local thrift in my size a 42R. however, i felt it could fit my frame better. i bought the blazer for 10 bucks and had it tailored for 80; 90.00 dollars spent all together which is still a fraction of what the item retails for new.

Dennis said...

Holy crap,

this blog is like providing the entrance to heaven...i am so glad i stumbled across your posts...love your approach towards style.

The only thing that troubles me is me envying your shopping possibillities...

Keep up the good work!

And by the way: fine work on that pair of trousers...

Anonymous said...

I have a few nice lambswool sweaters that have small pinpoint holes in them...and I think a similar repair can be done. I wear them casually so I don't mind the repair being slightly visible...suggestions? From: Pat in California

Young Fogey said...

Dave,

Sleeve alterations and pants hemming are very different, and I suggest that you not ruin your nice jackets by lengthening the sleeves yourself. In some cases, they need more material added to the lining, which is a non-trivial sewing task. Button relocation is also best left to the experienced.

So either go to sewing school or cough up the dough to a pro, I say.

Burton said...

I think those used to be my pants!

Giuseppe said...

Black Plague,

Trust me, I love my highly skilled Korean tailor. It's just that some things cna be done at home. If this repair were truly a major one, I'd leave it to the pros.

Thad said...

I have to agree! Learning to fix simple things, like replacing a button or fixing a torn seam is a life skill that every man should have.

tintin said...

The issue I had with RL grey flannels is that I blew through the thighs in a year. I had them patched but that Italian flannel - like butter wool doesn't wear well at all.

Nice to see you can sew. You should learn how to shine shoes.

Giuseppe said...

Ouch, Tin. My shoes don't look that bad, do they?

Dennis said...

I guess shoes are the only part of a gent´s wardrobe where it is allowed to see the effort that was needed to shine them.

And yes, they need improvement...i suggest to use La Cordonniere Anglaise.

Young Fogey said...

The best shoe polish I've ever used, head and shoulders above anything else, is the wonder that is Lincoln shoe polish. Best of all, it's made in America!

Hie thee to a shoe repair shop and pick up a tin of black and another of neutral; you might also want some of their browns (they also make "marine cordovan," a dark burgundy). Apply as usual, and wow! What a shine!

Anonymous said...

Great fix on great trousers. I also agree that working with a tailor is a good relationship to cultivate. Some reweaving I have done has been done well, some not so much. Trust your source. I remember reading that well-heeled British citizens have many mended items since the quality of those items was so great to begin with. Most countries eschew the U.S.'s penchant with tossing items.

StacyfromPgh

Anonymous said...

great fix, if you can do it! I have a great reweaver here in San Diego--I've only gone to him twice, for a scottish cashemere tweed jacket, and a cable car clothiers suit coat. Expensive, but when you consider the value of the garment, it's worthwhile. That you can do this on your own is awesome! Jim