Weekend Clothes Mending

It might be a bit dull being stuck inside on a rainy weekend but on the positive side we caught up with some of our clothes mending. Although we teach clothes mending techniques to others, our own pile of clothes mending seems to get bigger rather than smaller.

First up was a vintage leather bag that’s suede outer casing contained some very big holes and tears. I patched the holes with scrapes of faux suede left over from industry waste. I used a large over stitch with a thicker thread to create a decorative effect. I’m really pleased with the result and think the mend adds to the texture and design of the bag.

Next up is a favourite dress that I managed to get bleach on. I cut off the bottom and re-hemmed giving it a re-style. We have created a video on how to re-hem trousers, I used the same principle for the dress, although I did use a sewing machine to re-stitch rather than hand sewing.

Lastly, I took in the waistband on a pair of casual trousers. The fabric was quite fine so it was simple to do. I put on the trousers, pinned where I need to take them in and made sure it was even on both sides. Working from the outside I used a sewing machine to top stitch a line on the new seam I had created. I used a matching thread so the stitching is only visible from the outside. This only works to take in a waist a few cm on each side. Any more than that and it will distort the main body of the trousers.

If you are looking for specific clothes mending advice then please get in touch and we can arrange a 1:1 clothes mending session with you for a small fee. Or join one of our free zoom workshops.

How to make a waistband bigger

With a round tummy area, I often have a problem that my shorts and trousers are too small around the waist. These shorts are not too bad when I am standing up but when I sit down the button flies off, even when I have sewn it on securely. With the hot weather we have been having I needed to make these shorts fit more comfortably. Here is what I did…

In a previous post, I cut the elastic off some worn out men’s boxer shorts. I still have quite a bit of the elastic left. I cut two pieces each measuring 6cm in length. Leaving the width as it is (it will fray if cut).

On the front of the shorts, the waistband had a stitched side seam. This was easy to unpick with some sharp scissors and an unpicker (seam ripper). I unpicked both sides.

I wasn’t able to unpick the waistband on the reverse as it was one piece of fabric. So I cut it with some sharp scissors down just past the line of stitching.

I inserted one piece of the elastic under the channel of the waistband and pinned in place. I repeated this with the other end of the waistband and made sure it lay flat before pinning. Using a zig zag stitch on my sewing machine I stitched down over the raw edge of the waistband side seam, incorporating the elastic. Zig zag stitch is useful for elastic and stretch fabric as it stretches with the elastic. I used a regular running stitch along the bottom edge of the waist band to re-fix the area I had cut.

I then repeated this for the other side of the waistband. So that I had two pieces of elastic inserted on each side of the waist of the shorts. If you don’t have a sewing machine you can replicated the zig zag stitch by hand. It is best to use a thimble as it is a lot of fabric to get through and will make your fingers sore otherwise.

My last job was to sew the button on. I had lost the original button, so I chose one from my spare button jar. Before I sewed the button on, I checked it fitted through the button hole and was large enough to hold the thick fabric of the waistband. Watch our video on how to sew on a button. If you need some odd buttons for your collection, we sell a pack on our Etsy shop.

I can now comfortably sit down in my shorts with the button safely in place and they are more comfortable to wear. An alternative way to fix a waistband is to change it completely. In this how to blog post I replace the waistband of some pyjama bottoms. The same technique can be used for any shorts, trousers or skirts.

Need help with your repairs? Why not join our next virtual zoom mending session on 14th September 2020. Sign up to our newsletter for more details.

Our Favourite Charity Shops

We are very excited to be able to hit the charity shops again from this weekend. We often pick up haberdashery and sewing equipment for our workshops from charity shops. Helping to reduce waste and support these fantastic charities.

We shared a couple of our favourite shops with sustainable lifestyle magazine Pebble. Along with many other Pebble readers, creating an exhaustive list of the best charity shops in the UK.

Our friends at Ayoka charity shop in East London save us clothes that are damaged so the attendees of our workshops can practice their mending techniques.

We didn’t get chance to mention the Big C craft warehouse in Wymondham, close to Norwich. A warehouse full of second hand sewing equipment and craft accessories all neatly categorised in baskets.

What is your favourite charity shop? Join in one of our virtual mending sessions to share your tips. Sign up for our newsletter for more information.

Podcast with Boro Magazine

Katy got in touch at the start of lockdown to invite us to take part in her podcast. A journalist student at the London College of Fashion, Katy has created Boro Magazine as part of her final major project. She tells us ‘I am producing a magazine which explores contemporary make do and mending, focusing on the importance of extending the life of old clothing and innovative textile craftsmanship.’

The magazine sounds right up our street and we were happy to take part in her podcast. Katy asked us how we encourage people to repair their clothes and also the focus we place on therapeutic mending. Her questions were well researched and we had a lively conversation about our workshops. Click the button below to listen to the podcast (30 mins long)

Thanks Katy for asking us to be involved, we really enjoyed chatting with you. Good luck for your final project!

How To Make a Face Mask

We have been hosting regular Zoom meet ups for our Fast Fashion Therapy friends who miss our regular workshops. During our first meet up the chat was dominated by questions on how to make a face mask. At that time the scientists were sitting on the fence as to whether home-made masks were effective against Covid-19. Our group felt that something is better than nothing and since then the UK Government recommend wearing them when social distancing isn’t possible to prevent the spread of the virus.

Luckily for us, friend of Fast Fashion Therapy, Karla was on the call. She had been busy making hundreds of masks for her daughter and colleagues who work at the Whittington hospital in London. Karla’s daughter wears a surgical grade mask during her shift but finds the home made face coverings useful on her journey to and from work.

We have cheated and not created our own make a mask video. There are so many great videos out there we thought we would share our favourites.

How to make a mask videos

This is Karla and her daughter, Dr Imogen Ptacek. Karla made a respirator Jesse Mask designed by The Fabric Patch.

Sarah made her mask from instructions by Leah Day, also recommended by Karla. However, when she ran out of elastic, she used this video by Tilly & The Buttons to create a mask that ties at the back instead of using elastic around the ears. Stitchless TV have video tutorials for both style of masks and recommend using a back stitch if you don’t have a sewing machine.

Fabric choices

Sarah and Karla chose a cotton poplin from their fabric stash that could withstand washing at 60oC. We have read that fabrics need to be washed with soap at this temperature to help breakdown the proteins of the virus. (We don’t recommend washing clothes at this temperature and always follow the advice in the care label). Poly-cotton is also a good fabric choice for this project. We recommend the fabric not being too thick as the masks contain two layers plus pleats on one of the versions. The wearer needs to be able to breathe through all that fabric. Old shirts, pillow cases and bed sheets are ideal materials to use. T-shirts or jersey fabric could also be used if it is first fixed with non-woven interfacing (which works as an additional filter). We have seen some people on Instagram use denim but think it could be a bit thick to breathe through.


Many of the tutorials recommend using wire to give the mask a closer fit around the nose. Sarah used a pipe cleaner bought from her local hardware store. Stitchless TV use garden wire and Tilly and The Buttons use a straightened out paper clip. If you are going to use a wire, Sarah recommends sewing a channel where the wire can be removed (as Till’s instructions). After washing at 60 degrees, Sarah’s wire has lost it’s shape and is no longer useful.


The pleated style masks have a gap to insert a filter. If you are going to use a filter then it needs to be a fused material, such as a piece of kitchen towel, j-cloths and squares of chopped up hoover bags (the fabric variety, not paper). The filter should be thrown away securely after each wear.

Important to note

All the videos note that the masks are not suitable in a clinical setting. The UK Government recommend wearing the masks when social distancing is not possible, e.g. on public transport. They could possibly stop the wearer spreading the virus to someone else but they probably do not protect the wearer from catching the disease. The mask must be washed after each wear. Place the mask over your mouth and nose before leaving home. Do not touch your face or remove the mask whilst out and about. Wash your hands thoroughly before touching your face to remove the mask. Place the mask in a drawstring bag and wash them both on a hot soapy wash.

Fashion Revolution Week: What We Learnt

We have been taking part in Fashion Revolution Week. Encouraging the repair of clothes through four common problems that we see in our workshops: Sewing on a button, holes in knitwear, repairing a hem and tears on the inner thigh of trousers and jeans.

On Friday, the charity hosted the annual Fashion Question Time, which debates key issues within the fashion industry amongst MPs and industry experts.

Cary Somers, Co-Founder of Fashion Revolution, opens Fashion Question Time:

‘Our challenge this decade is to move beyond our currently destructive and western world view, which is tipping us into a climate catastrophe and a plastic pollution crisis, towards a fashion industry which integrates nature in a truly sustainable way. We need brands and retailers to move from competitiveness to collaboration. We need to move from the commodification of natural resources to working alongside nature with all of her diversity in a way that is respectful, renewable and regenerative. Look at our longer lasting value systems than profit. Prioritising instead the protection of our ecosystems and the well being of our workers and communities. We need to rebuild our connections with how our textiles and our clothing is made in the slow way, in balance with plants, animals, with the earth and with our oceans. Will we all be brave enough to embrace this opportunity and start to create the revolutionary change which the fashion industry so desperately needs to see’.

We have (virtually) attended many events this week to learn more about the change required in the fashion industry and our effects on the environment as consumers. Here are our five learnings from this inspiring week.

1. #whatsinourclothes?

‘Up to 95% of a garment’s impact lies in the material choice alone’ (Amanda Johnston, The Sustainable Angle). ‘Two thirds of our clothes contain 100% of chemicals and yet these are not disclosed to the consumer. We are breathing, eating, drinking the fibres in our clothes, the majority of which are plastic and chemical.’ Peter Gorse of Golf Refugees, who believes fashion brands should use blockchain technology and full disclose all the processes used to make our clothes.

2. Consume Less

‘If we consume less it automatically reduces the number of plastics and chemicals in our clothes.’ Baronness Bennett of Manor Castle, Green Party (eb4Fash Rev). ‘How do our habits have an impact? for example, if consumers knew that ordering multiple sizes online get burnt when they return them, would they stop? How do the facts help the consumers draw the connection and build the gap?’ Kenya Hunt, Grazia Fashion Director (FQT).

3. Repair

Extending the life of the clothes already in our wardrobe through repairing. ‘Appreciating the craft of our clothes means we are less likely to throw it out.’ Dr Lisa Cameron MP (FQT)

4. Become an Activist

Lobby to the Government for transparency on what is in our clothes and regulating the actions of fashion brands. A tax on virgin plastics is due to be introduced in 2022 but this does not include textiles. ‘Less emphasis on the consumer, brands need to be incentivised to do the right thing’ Mary Creagh, former MP. Fashion Revolution have tools on their website to help us lobby our MPs and favourite brands.

5. Make a Start

It is better to do something imperfectly than nothing at all. Kenya Hunt talked of the problems surrounding creating a sustainable issue of a magazine which also receives funding through advertising from unsustainable brands but ‘we have to start somewhere!’. Whilst Dr Lisa Cameron discussed how from a psychologists point of view it is human nature to ‘do a bit of what we think is right and then lapse’. It takes a while to get to the point where this new habit is embedded. It is not always easy for businesses or consumers to change behaviours. This moment of pause in the fashion industry is an ideal time to start.

Orsola de Castro, Co-Founder of Fashion Revolution, summarises the debate: ‘The fundamental role we will all have to play post Covid-19 more than ever to avoid a humanitarian and environmental crisis. Our current situation is highlighting the worse and best in our society at the same time. The worst is that our system values profits over people and mindless growth over sustainable prosperity. This has never been so outrageously visible until now. The cancelled orders, the lost jobs and the total disregard for human suffering and safety. The best is in a few short months we are seeing that nature has responded almost immediately free from our onslaught. Pollution is down, fish are returning to the rivers and canals, the big cities are quiet with no cars or aeroplanes. We can all see the stars at night. We are also seeing an increase in human empathy. For me, most important, we are growing a generation of kids that have been somehow temporarily suspended from hero worshipping privileged celebrities and are getting to know the real heroes, the people. The doctors, the nurses, the carers, the public workers who save our lives and who make our lifestyles possible. We will have to look for balance after all this. let’s ensure this period of restrictions won’t be followed by one of hyper-excesses, of business as usual times ten. There are ways to make an adequate amount of product, providing dignified work for the people who make them while protecing and conserving our environment. We have to invest in them and implement them with rigour. The call for this Fashion Question Time couldn’t be more simple: Mass consumption, the end of an era? Remove the question mark. Mass consumption, the end of an era – full stop.’

Fashion revolution was established in 2013 a year after the Rana Plaza disaster that killed 1138 garment workers in Bangladesh. Since then, the charity have been campaigning globally against the human and environmental consequenses of the fashion indsutry. Encouraging brands to change their practices to a more transparent and circular model and encouraging consumers to ask #whomademyclothes? This year the charity is also encouraging us to ask #whatsinmyclothes?

References: Events we have virtually watched this week

The Sustainable Angle – material solutions from the Future Fabrics Expo

Ethical Brands for Fashion Revolution

Fashion Question Time

Fashion Revolution Week: 5 Ways to Get Involved

Monday is the start of Fashion Revolution Week. The seventh year in which the charity ask us to challenge our favourite fashion brands with the question #whomademyclothes? Fashion Revolution was established in 2013 a year after the Rana Plaza disaster that killed 1138 garment workers in Bangladesh. Since then charity have been campaigning globally against the human and environmental consequences of the fashion industry. Encouraging brands to change their practices to a more transparent and circular model.

Our original plan was to host a variety of clothes mending workshops but the pandemic put a stop to this. We took comfort from the below quote, taken from a Fashion Revolution newsletter we received soon after we were asked to stay in our homes to protect lives.

The coronavirus pandemic will lead to a massive behavioural shift and an inevitable slowing down of consumption. As we always say, the most sustainable clothes are the ones already in our wardrobes so we can start, as so many of us already are, by looking after the clothes we have, sewing on buttons, repairing hems, darning holes.

Fashion Revolution, March 2020

Fast Fashion Therapy was created as a response to another overwhelming problem, climate change and the lack of sustainability in the fashion industry. We have taken on the challenge set by Fashion Revolution and have launched our workshops and repair cafes online via interactive call and video tutorials. Now, more than ever it is important to question fashion brands on their practices, here is how you can get involved:

Five Ways to Be Part of Fashion Revolution Week

1) Become an activist: Choose your favourite piece of clothing. Text, email and write a letter to the brand on the label using the hashtag #whomademyclothes? – find more tips and resources on how to approach the fashion brand effectively on Fashion Revolution’s website. Including downloadable posters and kits. Don’t give up, keep contacting the brand until you get an answer. Keep the message positive and professional.

2) Learn how clothes are made: Creating a 3D garment from a flat piece of fabric is no mean feat. Understanding the construction of clothes enables us to value them and appreciate that clothes shouldn’t be cheap. We respect the skill required and can campaign for garment workers to be paid a living wage. We are not suggesting everyone makes their own clothes (although it is fun!) but how about watching The Great British Sewing Bee? Starting next week, watch one episode to appreciate how difficult it is to make a simple garment. Judge Patrick Grant hosts a BBC Radio documentary ‘Making Fashion Sustainable‘, which is a good introduction to the complexity of fashion supply chains.

3) Mend your clothes: Go through your wardrobe and pull out the items you are not wearing because they need mending. Or maybe they don’t fit correctly and need altering? It is time to start tackling that pile of mending. We have ‘how to’ videos on this site to help you mend your clothes. New tutorials are posted every week. Or if you need some one-to-one help we are running 1:1 appointments for a virtual repair cafe. £2.50 from the ticket price will be donated to Fashion Revolution, Refuge and The Trussell Trust.

4) Take part in a virtual event: Next week, sustainable fashion companies will come together to debate the effects of the fast fashion industry on climate change and modern slavery. There are hundreds of events taking place around the world. We are joining Ethical Brands for Fashion Revolution (a week long event) and Fashion Question Time on 24th April. Search ‘Fashion Revolution’ in Eventbrite for the full list of events.

5) Consider the future: This is our opportunity to make a change. We all need to consume less to prevent further climate change. Yet millions of garment workers have lost their jobs due to orders from retailers being cancelled due to Covid-19. Fashion Revolution state: ‘If we do nothing, the fashion industry will simply return to business as usual when this is all over. Instead, let’s come together as a revolution and build a new system that values the wellbeing of people and planet over profit.’ How will your buying patterns change? Jen Gale at Sustainable(ish) recommends we become ‘conscious consumers’. Lauren Bravo has lots of practical tips in her book, How to Break up with Fast Fashion.

Let us know how you are getting involved in Fashion Revolution Week. Did you get an answer to #whomademyclothes? We would love to know, contact us on email or social media @fastfashiontherapy

‘Darning’ video tutorial

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.

‘Slow Fashion’ interview with Obj.12 (City University)

Back in the days when we were allowed to visit clothes shops and talk to people that we didn’t live with in real life, we were invited by Obj.12 to talk about our clothing repair workshops and sustainable fashion for their video on ‘Slow Fashion’. It was a great project to be a part of, sadly the workshop we were going to run with them was cancelled, but hopefully we can work with City University and Obj. 12 again in the future!

Find the full video on their Vimeo at – https://vimeo.com/394023698/cb8e081f3d

A little more about Obj.12…

Meet Rachel, Lauren, Lisa, and Grace. They started Obj.12 with an aim to inspire, engage, and inform others about conscious consumption with a good sense of style.

Obj.12 is inspired by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.

“We all love fashion, why not be sustainable while we can still be fashionable?”

In this video, we take a closer look at fast vs. slow fashion. What’s the difference, and how is it affecting our planet?

A message from TRAID: It’s time to stop.

The whole world is doing it… no more commuting, gathering or shaking hands.

The list of things we have to stop seems bigger than the list of things we’re still allowed to do.

But look a bit deeper and you’ll see that we aren’t stopping because we are defeated – we’re stopping because we will not be beaten.

We’re stopping to protect the vulnerable in society. We’re stopping to save lives.

Your inaction, is the best possible action.

Many are talking about their fears right now and it is certainly right to be cautious. But today we want to talk about our hopes.

Because there is value in stopping, and it could look like this…

We learn to stop polluting

Researchers in New York are reporting a near 50% reduction in carbon monoxide compared to this time last year.

Perhaps this is a time where we can learn the value of reducing our emissions and our impact on the earth in the long term.

We learn to stop consuming

Forget about panic buying toilet rolls for a second and you can see that many of us are learning about what we really need – not focusing on the next big purchase.

Perhaps this is the time where we understand the value of what we consume and give our products and the people who make them the respect they deserve.

We learn to stop hating

‘Lands apart, sky shared’ 

A quote from an ancient poem written on a shipment of masks and thermometers that was sent from Japan to China.

Perhaps this is the time we realise that we share the same earth – and many of the same problems. Perhaps a common adversary will unite us.

It might sound idealistic 

…to talk too much of hope right now. 

But rest assured that we will be giving you practical ways that you can make the world a better, fairer place over the next weeks and months.

We’ll start with a short guide to the implications of the coronavirus on international trade and developing countries that will be with you next week.

Until then you can contact us any time by emailing hello@traidcraft.org – and if you feel compelled to support us in this difficult time, you can support us here.
 Thank you for everything you do.