Underwire sticking out of a bra and into the skin is uncomfortable but quick and easy to fix! It is a common problem, likely to happen when bras are washed in the washing machine. Follow these simple instructions and fix that bra!
Piece of ribbon, tape or bias binding
Choose a piece of tape or ribbon that is a similar width to the wire casing. We’ve chosen a piece of Petersham ribbon. It has ridges widthwise and is strong but pliable. It is often used in making hats. We cut this piece from a handle of a paper gift bag.
Trim the length of the ribbon so it is long enough to cover the hole on the inside of the bra and hem over on the front side of the bra.
Push the wire back into it’s casing. If it is stiff, use a thimble or push the end of the wire down onto the table. Manoeuvre the wire into it’s casing by wriggling it around until it stays in place.
Thread a needle, double the thread and make a knot at the end. There will be a narrow edge on the wire casing that hasn’t been stitched down. Use this edge to sew along. Start with one or two stitches just below the hole before attaching the ribbon to make sure the needle passes through easily. We are switching to white thread so it shows up in the photos but you can match the thread with the bra or ribbon if preferred.
Place the ribbon or tape a few millimetres below the hole and sew the edge of the ribbon to the edge of the wire casing using an overstitch. Watch the video below on how to sew an overstitch. Hold the ribbon in place with your non-sewing hand as you sew as it will be too thick to secure with a pin.
As you get to the top edge of the bra, fold the ribbon over to the front of the bra and keep sewing the ribbon to the front. Most bras have a decorative ribbon, move this out of the way with your non-sewing hand. Continue sewing until you get a few millimetres from the base of the ribbon. Tuck the edge of the ribbon underneath itself and overstitch in place. Continue up the other side of the ribbon until you reach the top front of the bra.
This isn’t the neatest bit of sewing as it is quite tricky to sew with one hand and hold the ribbon in place with the other. But it is secure and as we like to say at Fast Fashion Therapy ‘done is better than perfect’. Also, if the thread matches the ribbon the stitching will be less visible.
The wire may poke through the ribbon after more wears and washes. If this happens then unpick the original mend and start again with a fresh piece of ribbon or tape. No more painful digging in bras! Click here to read our post on how to refresh knickers.
Without going into too many intimate details, many of the pairs of pants or knickers that we own get damaged or stained in the same area. The majority of the fabric that makes the knickers is still in good condition and perfectly useable, but the (often) cotton gusset that lines the inside of the knicker becomes discoloured or weak from regular wear. This ‘How to’ blog will take you through a simple technique to replace the cotton gusset using old t-shirt fabric and keep your undies going for even longer!
To get started, you’ll need to find some cotton jersey fabric, this could be from an old (but not too damaged/stained) t-shirt you have at home or you can buy cotton jersey fabric online (there are lots of sustainable options for this too, Offset Warehouse usually have a good selection). I’m using the bottom of a t-shirt that I cut off to turn it into a cropped style. This blog shows how to do the technique on a classic knicker style, it can be adapted for other styles, it’ll just get more fiddly the tinier your underwear is!
As well as this, you’ll need your much-loved knickers, fabric scissors, paper scissors, matching or contrasting sewing thread (depending on your style), pencil, paper, ruler and dressmaking pins. This blog will show how to do the technique with a sewing machine, but it could be done using hand-stitching as well.
First off, start by using your fabric scissors to cut the cotton gusset that is already in the knickers away along the edge of the elastic and across the seams on the top and bottom. Be careful when you’re doing this not to cut the outer fabric and create any more holes in your underwear, you can pull the top fabric up as you cut to avoid catching the outer fabric. Try to keep the fabric you cut away in one piece as this will be used in the next stage.
Using the piece of fabric you have cut out, draw around the shape of it onto your piece of paper. Once you have drawn all the way around, use a ruler to measure another line 1cm from the edge of the shape and draw all the way around. This is the template you will use for cutting your new gusset out.
Use some pins to secure your paper template onto the cotton jersey fabric you are working with and cut around the shape with your fabric scissors. If you have lots of knickers that are a similar size and shape in need of repair, you might be able to use this template for all of them. It’s good to check the style and sizing of the gusset on each one before you cut the fabric out so you don’t waste any fabric.
Taking your cotton jersey fabric, line the top wider edge of the piece up with the seam in your knickers that joins to the area of fabric that covers your bottom (this is where the original gusset would have been attached). Pin the jersey fabric to the pants along the top line of this seam so that when the fabric is folded back over, it will be covered.
Either using your sewing machine or a hand-stitching needle, sew a straight line along this top edge where you have pinned. If using a sewing machine, remember to reverse stitch at the start and end of the line. Using a slightly longer stitch setting than normal can help the tension to be correct on stretch fabrics like these. If you are sewing by hand, it’s best to use a backstitch to make the stitching stronger, you can find a ‘how to’ video on this technique here.
Once you’ve stitched this line, you might want to cut away some of the excess seam allowance and then fold the fabric over so it roughly sits in line with the knickers underneath.
You’ll then do a similar process on the other narrower end of the gusset. This side is a little bit trickier as the other end is already sewn down, so you are not able to lie the fabric totally flat. Find the seam where the original gusset was attached and fold the end of the new gusset so it lines up with this and covers it. You’ll then need to pin just the bottom layer of this fold to the fabric of the knickers below, be careful not to catch any extra bits of fabric when you are pinning.
Once it is pinned correctly in place, you can sew a line of straight stitching in the same way as before, either using a machine or by hand. Again, be careful not to catch any extra bits of fabric as you sew as you can’t get it completely flat. The first time I sewed these I caught a bit of the fabric and created a fold which I then had to unpick. Creating a fold in the fabric won’t damage the knickers but it might make them less comfortable to wear. Once the stitching is done, you can cut away the excess fabric from the seam allowance so that it looks roughly like the image above on the right.
The next stage uses the zig-zag stitch on the sewing machine to secure the two longer sides to the elasticated edge of the knickers. I used the same slightly longer stitch setting as before with a medium width. Line your needle and presser foot up with the elastic edging of the knickers on top of the new gusset fabric and lower. Once secure pull of both layers of the fabric and stitch a line along the edge of it. Keep pulling on the fabric as you stitch, this will help to keep the stretch in the elastic. You can try to follow the ridge of the elastic underneath as a guide for a neater finish. Remember to reverse stitch at the start and end of the line.
This process might be a little harder to replicate using hand stitching as you need to pull on the fabric as you stitch. You could still do this if you pull the fabric in smaller sections and then stitch, pulling and stitching as you work your way along the line. It’s best to try and mirror the shape of the zig-zag stitching by hand if possible, you can use the same backstitch technique you used before but in the zig-zag shape.
Stitch along both edges of the gusset, once you have finished you can trim away the excess cotton jersey fabric on either side to neaten it up and trim away the loose threads. And you have one pair of refreshed knickers!
The gusset on some knickers you own might be attached in a slightly different way to this. Sometimes they are only attached along the two longer edges and not on the narrower edges on the top and bottom. This could be to speed up production times or to protect the fragile fabric that is used to make the rest of the knicker. The two narrower edges would normally be overlocked if made in a factory. If you are repairing knickers like these at home, you could instead use your sewing machine to bind the edges of the gusset using the zig-zag stitch. Or do a similar stitch by hand, trapping the edge of the fabric and folding it slightly so it doesn’t fray.
The gusset on this pair of knicker was attached on one end and loose at the other. In this case, I attached the wider end as before and then zig-zag stitched the narrower end. You can then stitch down the two longer sides along the elasticated edges like before.
Have you made a mask or face covering to help protect yourself and others from Covid-19? You might find it useful to make a bag to keep your face covering in. We have made two of these drawstring bags. One to keep a clean mask in and one to store the worn mask. These instructions will help you make this practical and simple bag.
Sheet of paper (newspaper, parcel paper or A4 piece of paper)
Scrap of fabric measuring 40 x 60cm (or smaller pieces sewn together to create the same size)
Paper scissors & fabric scissors
Sewing needle or sewing machine
Piece of cord or ribbon measuring a minimum of 45cm
Iron and ironing board
1. Create a template
Create a template or pattern for the bag from a piece of paper. Draw a rectangle on the paper 20cm x 30cm. Cut out the rectangle using paper scissors. Or use a sheet of A4 paper as the template, it is approximately the same size.
2. Cut out the fabric
Fold the fabric in half, short edge to short edge. Place the short edge of the template so it lines up with the folded edge of the fabric. Pin in place and cut around the edge of the template with the fabric scissors. We created a bigger piece of fabric from 4 smaller squares. We sewed them together to make a piece measuring 40 x 60cm. We finished the raw edges with a zig-zag stitch.
3. Pin the pieces together
Remove the pins from the template. Keep the fabric folded in half. If your fabric has a print or an obvious right and wrong side, ensure the right sides of the fabrics are placed together, facing each other. Pin the two pieces together by placing the pins vertical to the edge. On one of the long edges, place a pin 4cm from the open top edge. Use a different type of pin or make a mark with a pen so you remember this point when you are sewing.
4. Start sewing
It is quicker to make the bags using a sewing machine but it can also be sewn by hand using an backstitch as shown in our video here. Use a 1.5cm seam allowance (the row of stitching should be 1.5cm from the edge of the fabric). Draw a line on the fabric to help keep the line straight (but don’t worry if you wobble a bit, the bag will still be usable). Start sewing the long edge at the mark you made 4cm down from the top to the bottom edge. Sew the second long edge from the top down to the bottom folded edge. Finish the raw edges by sewing a zig-zag stitch along the edge of the fabric, sewing the two edges together. This will stop the fabric fraying when washed. (Use an over stitch if hand sewing)
5. Create a channel for the cord
Fold over the top open edge by 1cm, right side to wrong side and press with a hot iron (be careful the steam doesn’t burn your fingers). Fold the edge again by another 3cm. Tuck in the open ends to create the opening for the cord. Press with the iron and pin in place.
Sew a row of stitching around the edge you have just folded over. Approximately 5mm from the edge. Remove the pins as you sew.
6. Add the cord
Measure a 45cm length of cord or ribbon (We cut them off the tops of used paper shopping and gift bags). Secure a large safety pin to one end of the cord. Insert the pin into the channel created by the hem.
Push the pin through the channel until it reaches the opening the other end of the bag. Be careful not to loose the other end of the cord as you push it through.
Tie the two ends of the cord together with a knot. Turn the bag the right way out, give it a quick press and it is ready to use! We recommend making two bags and two masks. For example, if you are wearing a mask on public transport, place it in one bag when you get to your destination. Have another clean mask in a clean bag for your return journey. Take the mask out of the bag when washing but it is useful to wash them all together in hot soapy water. Here are our tips on making a mask.
Fabrics that can be washed at a high temperature (between 40 and 60 degrees) are best. Cotton or Polyester/Cotton mix work well. We used scraps of fabric from other projects for our bag but old bedding would work well. As would old T-towels, towels, t-shirts, men’s shirts. If you have a large collection of cotton shopping bags cut up your least favourite. Cut off the handles, press them in half long ways and sew along the opening. Use this instead of the cord.
In the last (almost) two years of running workshops, we’ve learnt more about the most common areas of clothing that get damaged with many of our repair videos and posts responding to these. But the damage, whether a moth hole or a tear, can come in all shapes and sizes, and learning to patch on a small swatch of cotton fabric can be a completely different experience to patching on your much-loved clothing.
This ‘Repair in Practice’ blog will use some of our most popular mending techniques on a pair of very well-loved silk trousers. These silk trousers have worn down on the inside seam around the crotch at the top of both trouser legs, and the hem on one leg has also come loose.
Repairing these trousers didn’t require much in the way of equipment or materials. To complete a similar repair you’d need some fabric scissors (for cutting your patches of fabric to size), small sharp scissors, some fabric pins (you could also use safety pins but they might be too chunky on the silk), hand embroidery needles (thinner ones are better on fine silk), patches of fabric, a matching embroidery thread and an iron.
These silk trousers had been previously repaired by their owner when I received them so the first stage of mending was to get the area around the crotch that was most damaged ready to be worked on. The hand-stitching had worked in holding the seam together temporarily but because of how weak the silk fabric had become, the area was in need of some extra reinforcement to be wearable long term. I used a stitch unpicker and some sharp embroidery scissors to take off the hand-stitching that had been holding the seam together.
A common question when repairing and in our workshops is whether you should cut away the frayed edges of a tear or hole. The answer to this can often be a question of personal style, but in this case how fragile the silk was meant that the fray needed to be cut away to prevent further damage. Again, using the small sharp scissors, I trimmed the frayed edges away all the way around the holes at the top of each leg, leaving a smooth, clean edge. If there are any areas near the hole where the fabric hasn’t quite fallen apart but looks weak, it can be a good idea to cut these away too.
You could iron some Bondaweb or fusing on the reverse of the fabric in this area to provide some extra strength. I chose not to in this case as the silk trousers have a really lovely smooth texture and drape that I didn’t want to alter too much.
I chose to use the ‘Boro’-inspired patching technique we teach in our workshops to mend this area of the trousers, working with some navy blue silk that was donated to us in a bag of scrap fabric. First I measured the size of the holes I was patching, you need to make the patches of fabric you are working with at least 2cm wider and longer than the size of the hole. In this case, I could see the seam on the trousers was still weak under the hole so I added an extra 5cm to reinforce this area as well and stop it from ripping in the future.
As I wasn’t using Bondaweb on the silk, I needed to hem the edges of the silk patches to stop them from fraying. Using an iron, I folded the edges of the patches twice to tuck the raw edge of the silk inside the hem. The silk can be tricky to fold and press in this way as it is quite slippy so I pressed, pinned and stitched just two edges at a time before moving onto the other two edges. Because the silk I was working with was quite light I found it easiest to sew these hems by hand using a Blind Hemstitch.
I used a navy silk thread to match the patch, but you can use any fine machine or hand embroidery thread that you feel works well with your fabric. The important thing when working with silk is to choose a thread that matches in thickness so it doesn’t pull and snag the silk as you work. Throughout this repair, I threaded my needle with a single length of this thread, no longer than 30cm in length, with a double knot tied at the end of it.
This version of the hemstitch starts with your first stitch going into the fold of the hem so the thread is hidden inside the hem, you can make this stitch quite long around 1cm. Pull the thread all the way through, then with your next stitch catch just a few fibres of the fabric to the right of the hem. This stitch should be roughly parallel to the point where your needle came out of the folded hem.
This hem won’t be visible on your finished item of clothing from the outside so you could use a simple running stitch if you find that easier, but I find the hemstitch gives a smoother finish and texture inside the trousers when worn.
As I didn’t use Bondaweb on the area on the trousers around the hole, I also needed to roughly fold and hem the edge of the hole. You don’t need to iron this edge over as you just need it to be folded once, you can use your thumb and finger to press the fabric in place as you sew. The heat from your hands will hold it in place for a short time so you can work your way around the hole like this.
To stitch this edge down, thread up the needle with a length of the thread you are using and tie a knot at the end of your piece of thread. Bring the needle through from the reverse of the fabric, going through both the fold of the hem and the top layer of fabric so the knot is hidden at the reverse. Repeat this stitch a little to the left of your first stitch so you create a loop that traps the edge of the fold holding it in place. Carry on all the way around the edge of the hole so the folded hem is secure in place.
The stitches do not need to be right next to each other like in this example, you can space them out more if you prefer the look of it, just make sure the gap in between each stitch is no bigger than roughly 5mm. When you’re finished, the edge of the hole you’re working on should be bound by the stitch and there should be no fraying.
At this stage, it can be a good idea to give both the trousers and the silk fabric patch an iron to make sure they are smooth and flat, then you can begin to pin the first patch in place. I started with the larger hole as this meant I could use the small hole as another access point when sewing so I would have more places to reach my needle from when working on the reverse of the trousers. The silk can shift around a lot when you’re pinning in place so take your time with it, the most important thing is to make sure it is smooth in the area where you will start your stitching as the other pins further down the hole can be moved around as you begin to sew.
Using a running stitch, often called Sashiko in ‘Boro’ patching, begin to build up lines of stitching running back and forth across the patch and the trousers. So that the silk patch was not flapping on the inside here, I made sure to start and end my line of stitching at either edge of the patch. You could go further than the edge of your patch with your stitching if you want there to be more embellishment. For more detailed help with ‘Boro’, you can watch our tutorial video here.
I carried on the rows of stitching past the bottom of the hole as I wanted to reinforce the area of the seam that was weaker. Once you’ve finished all your rows of stitching, there may be some gaps in between the rows around the edge of the hole where the silk flaps more than you would like. Using the same stitch to the one you used to hem the edges of the hole, you can trap these areas of silk down, just make sure to catch the silk patch and the trousers this time.
I patched the next hole in the same way, pinning the patch in place first and using a running stitch to secure it in place. This area was trickier to reach than the first one as I had to bring the needle up from the bottom of the trouser leg or through from the waistband when I was starting a new piece of thread. Covering the end of the needle lightly with your fingertip is a good way to avoid catching the silk as you bring the needle through.
Once I finished sewing both patches, I checked how they were looking from the reverse, adding stitching in any areas where it looked like the edge of the patch was flapping or not securely attached. All the patching is done! Next step, fix that hem.
Using the creases left from where the hem was before as a guide, I ironed the loose hem back over, tucking the raw edge inside the hem, and pinned in place. Like with the hem of the patch, I used a blind hemstitch to secure the hem in place. I started my stitching at the inside seam and worked all the way around until it was secure.
I was more careful here to just catch a few of the fibres when I was stitching into trouser above the hem so the stitching is almost invisible. Silk trouser repair – completed!
If you’re looking for the supplies to get you started with your repair, check out our mending kits over on Etsy.
In these videos, we’ll go through some different techniques you can use for fixing holes or damage in knitwear if you’re looking for something faster or simpler than darning, or just to create a different effect.
Part 1 goes through a smocking technique and an eyelet technique, whilst part 2 goes through a version of ‘Boro’ patching for knitwear. For more information on ‘Boro’ take a look at our ‘Boro’ video and how-to on our blog.
If you’re looking for the yarns or materials you need to get started on these techniques, we’ve got some mending kits available on our Etsy shop.
We never manage to find jeans to fit us correctly, especially if they are from a charity shop or swishing event. We have listed step-by-step instructions on gaining a professional finish when taking up the hem on jeans
Sewing machine is advised as the denim is too thick for hand sewing.
We’ve created a ‘how to’ video on measuring and taking up trousers, the method of measuring is the same for jeans.
Clothes rarely fit perfectly when we buy them, especially if we have acquired them from a charity shop, vintage fair or clothes swap. Taking up a hem on a pair of trousers is a fairly simple task and you don’t need a sewing machine. The secret is to measure, try-on, measure, try-on. Repeat several times before cutting the hem.
A basic sewing repair kit is needed, including a tape measure, iron and ironing board
Watch our ‘how to’ video on taking up hems
We have filmed a separate video on how to hand sew the hem in place, click on the button below to be redirected to this blog post.
This same alteration technique can be used to shorten the hem of a skirt, dress, shorts or even sleeves. When measuring a skirt, use the waistband as the point of reference to measure down to the hem. Measure approximately 6 places around the skirt.
With a dress, find the waist point, usually there is a seam at the waist. Use this as a reference point in the same way as a skirt. For sleeves the measuring reference point is the armhole seam.
The stitching on hems coming undone is one of the most common clothes fixes at Fast Fashion Therapy. It is simple mend to complete with a needle, thread and sharp scissors. In this video we explain how to repair a hem with a hem stitch, or herringbone stitch. We use trousers as an example but the same method can be used on skirts, dresses and sleeve hems.
Most hems can be fixed without a sewing machine. Our video next week will run through how to shorten a hem on a pair of trousers.
We’ve got a new ‘Darning’ video tutorial on our YouTube channel!
This video will take you through the basics of how to darn holes in knitwear. The technique can be used on an area that’s just worn down or where a hole has appeared to strengthen the item of clothing and create a new piece of fabric in the damaged area. This video shows a visible style of mending but the same technique can be used to repair invisibly if you use a matching thread.
If you’re looking for the basic kit you need to get started on your darning, head to our Shop to find our new darning kits!
Don’t have a darning mushroom at home? How about something from your kitchen? Read our blog on what to use around your home in place of a darning mushroom.