How to Repair a Seam by Hand

For the third in my ‘How to’ mending series I’m demonstrating how a backstitch can be used to repair a seam by hand.

A couple of years ago I went along to a sale at Emmaus charity shop in Bristol hosted by Kecks Clothing. It was a ‘fill a bag for a fiver’ event and I found some incredible bargains including a Karen Millen coat with a loose hook and eye, and a merino wool cardigan from Gap which had a couple of tiny holes in the sleeve. I didn’t expect however, to unearth a handmade 1950s cotton dress in my size. The dress had been well-worn and came complete with signs of age - a number of seams had come undone - so it’s unsurprising it couldn’t be sold.

Vintage handmade 1950s cotton dress before seam repair

All the garments on sale had been rejected by the shop because of damage or because they hadn’t been sold after some time on the shop floor. The local textile recycling facility was overloaded and so, had I not bought these clothes, it was likely these would all have ended up in landfill.

Globally, only 20% of discarded clothing is reused or recycled, the rest goes to landfill or is incinerated, Pulse of the Fashion Industry

Wouldn’t it be great though if we all have the skills to carry out minor repairs like this so that clothes could be kept out of landfill and in active use for longer? Repairing a seam takes a little concentration to get it lined up and looking good, but it’s pretty simple and only requires pins, a needle, thread and scissors to carry out. No sewing machine needed. Here’s how I did it…

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Founder and Director of The Good Wardrobe. Lover of charity shops and mending stuff. New to Bristol. Follow on Twitter

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