Adventures in ThriftingAdventures in Thrifting: Laura Learns to Mend, Part 2Laura Owen

Not knowing some sewing basics – like, how to sew on a button or how to repair a ripped seam – has always been a disadvantage for me. As someone with limited craft-y skills and poor fine motor skills, I’ve always been intimidated by sewing. Thus, small damages to my clothes can result in me never wearing them again – or I don’t buy an awesome find at a thrift store because some minor alterations might be in order.

Such was the case with tiger-faced jumpsuit I found at Speedway Outlet for a dollar. I’ve always disdained jumpsuits, but I fell in love with this one on sight. However, it needed straps. How was I supposed to attach on straps? With magic?

Luckily, my friend Cyberbelle is excellent at these crafty kinds of things and deemed this strap-issue an easy fix. She patiently took me shopping for supplies. Then we got together for a “Stitch ‘n Bitch”, which was really Cyberbelle teaching me how to sew. “Nothing is too basic,” I urged her. “Treat me like I’m 5!”

First up: sewing on straps. Cyberbelle had located the following pair of removable bra straps and awesome decorative buttons at Sas, a discount fabric store.

We pinned the straps to the jumpsuit (or rather Cybele did) while I was wearing it, and used measuring tape to make sure the straps were even.

Now to sew the straps on! Starting with very very basics, she taught me how to thread a needle. (I caught the magic on video!)

Then a lesson in sewing followed, in which Cyberbelle demonstrated a basic stitch as well as some common pitfalls (thread getting messed up and poking yourself with the needle)!

Then I tried it! And honestly, sewing is much easier to…actually do than to watch or have explained. This is not a very helpful written tip, but: actually doing it – funner and easier than it seems! I got ridiculously excited as I realized that I was getting it.

Sewing action shot!:

So, we’d finished attaching the straps, which I thought looked pretty good:

BUT, because Cyberbelle has an eye for such things, she’d bought buttons as well to make the straps look more decorative.

A lesson in sewing buttons followed. At about 3:30, we realize that one of the buttons will have to go over a tiger’s eye and we start talking about how this will make the tiger a “bedazzled robot pirated disco tiger”. I have to say that despite multiple views, this cracks me up every time – because I really am 5 years old, apparently. In keeping with this, at 5:10, I enthuse gleefully about rhinestones.

Again, Cyberbelle sewed two examples and then I sewed the back two buttons. I actually found the buttons a bit more of a challenge, even though the theory behind it is way basic.

I was, however,  beyond thrilled with the final result (sadly, the tiger statue does not come included):

The jumpsuit even made me get all pose-y:

For a more common mending issue, Cyberbelle here shows me how to sew up a busted seam and quickly reattach a zipper that is splitting off from its seam.

What did I learn?

1) Honestly, for me, the hardest part was tying a small knot in the thread (both to help you thread the needle and to “knot off” when you’re done sewing). Cyberbelle patiently explains how to tie a knot in the first and fourth video and you can see her doing it in the second video. In reality, she showed me, like, ten times and watched me try and fail to do it over and over again.

2) But the actual stitching is often as basic and easy as it seems.

3) You do need to invest in some basic sewing supplies (pins, needles, thread, measuring tape, buttons). However, this stuff is pretty cheap (those amazing buttons were 25 cents a pop, which is spendy for buttons) and once you have it, you can get a lot of use out of it. Like I said, I spent a dollar on the jumpsuit, but without the adjustments I would never have been able to wear it (and goodness knows, the occasions on which I need to wear a tiger-faced jumpsuit are innumerable). And even with the supplies we bought (including the unusually-expensive-for-straps straps, which were $4), it all came in under $8.

4) Like most things, mending is more fun with a friend. Especially a helpful friend who knows more stuff than you. And buys you rhinestone-bedazzled buttons.

So I’m looking forward to more “Stitch N Bitches” in the future, where hopefully I can hold my own a bit more on the mending front.

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  1. Whoa! Way to rock that jumpsuit! And, uh, there’s a special way to tie a knot? Nobody told me that.