5 Reasons to Repair Your Clothes in 2022

1. Prevent textile waste and carbon emissions

Something as small as a lost button can prevent us from wearing our clothes. By learning how to repair or rework our clothes we can prevent that item from adding to the 336,000 tonnes of clothing that end up in UK landfill or incineration each year (Wrap Textiles 2030).

Our clothes can take as long as 200 years to decompose…so our planet is getting polluted by more and more unnatural material all the time.

What ‘s Wrong with Fast Fashion: Pebble Magazine

2. Wear the clothes you love for longer

The majority of the clothes people bring to our workshops are items that they cherish. It might be a pair of jeans that fit perfectly, a Kaftan that was owned by a grandmother, a dress that brings back a lot of fun memories on the events it was worn to. People leave our workshops happy that their favourite item of clothing can be worn again to create new memories.

3. Learn a new skill

You don’t need to be an expert dressmaker or tailor to fix clothes. At least 85% of our workshop attendees have never used a sewing machine before or not since they were at school. Bring along an item of clothing you want to fix and we will show you the techniques you need to repair it. Build up your sewing skills with each item of clothing that is repaired. Materials and equipment is provided.

4. Practice mindfulness

Often participants will talk of how calming simply sitting as a group and hand stitching their damaged clothing can be. As our repair and upcycling workshops are often aimed at beginner sewers, we place a focus on the doing rather than perfection. The practical task of clothes mending and sewing can offer respite from the scale of a problem for a short moment in time. Darning, for example, takes concentration to weave the yarn to build up the hole.

5. Save money

Window of Royal Trinity Hospice London Charity Shop, Islington.

Fast fashion is notoriously inexpensive to buy but it often doesn’t last very long as cheap fabrics and techniques are used to make them. There is no judgement at our workshops on where your clothes are from. We are happy to help you repair the item of clothing to prevent it from adding to the landfill issue. By mending an item of clothing that you can wear again, it reduces the need to buy something new to replace it. Our workshops are free or offered at an affordable rate.

Join one of our workshops

We host regular workshops in London on a Monday evening. If you are not based in London, we also offer a free online mend-a-long via Zoom. It isn’t a teaching session but we can give you advice on how to mend your clothes and send you videos of any techniques required. Find our list of ‘How To’ videos here.

Find the list of our workshops on our Event Calendar, including more non-London based workshops coming this year. Or sign up to our newsletter to keep updated on how to join us for some Fast Fashion Therapy.

How to shorten sleeves using elastic

Sometimes it is very small things that stop us wearing items of clothing. Take this jumper for example. It sits in my wardrobe, I pull it out to wear it and every time I put it back as I remember that it annoys me. The arms get too long and baggy. I’m forever pulling up the sleeves for them to fall down seconds later.

There are many ways to shorten sleeves of tops and shirts but it is a bit trickier when it comes to jumpers. No problem if you can knit, but sadly I lack this skill. Knitwear and jersey (fabrics that have a knitted, stretchy construction rather than woven), can unravel if you cut them. Useful on a T-shirt as the fabric doesn’t fray. But on knitwear, the knitting would come undone and my jumper would be ruined.

This jumper had a little secret on the side seams that gave me an idea. A length of elastic at the bottom of the sides of the jumper are stitched with elastic. This creates a ruching effect.

In this video I demonstrate how to create the same effect on the sleeves to make them shorter.

This trick can be used on woven fabrics too. I’ve added elastic to shoulder seams to created a ruched cap sleeve. Or one of our workshop participants added elastic to the side seams of a mini dress to turn it into a long top.

Where to buy sustainable elastic

Generally elastic isn’t good for the environment. Made from rubber and plastic it takes years to biodegrade. There are some sustainable alternatives. Buying second hand is sustainable as we are using materials that are already available. We are not using the earth’s resources to make new products. They will not biodegrade but they have been produced so it makes sense to use them rather than throw them away unused. Charity shops are an excellent source of unused haberdashery. Usually stored in baskets amongst the homewares. I often collect elastic and darning yarn whenever I see any in a charity shop.

James Tailoring sells sustainable haberdashery including organic elastic that will biodegrade. Along with sustainable thread, fabric (including denim) and buttons. All available online.

FIVE tips on how to get more wears from your Christmas Jumper

Selection of Christmas jumpers on offer at SCT charity shop on Roman Road, London

Today is Christmas jumper day, wear a festive jumper and donate money to Save the Children. Fantastic! If you have taken part, please wear your Christmas jumper more than once. It was estimated that 12 million Christmas jumpers were bought in 2019 despite 65 million lurking in the back of the wardrobe according to charity Hubbub. Speaking in The Daily Telegraph, the Charity’s project co-ordinator Sarah Divall suggests customers:

‘Swap, buy second-hand or re-wear and remember a jumper is for life not, just for Christmas.’

Sarah Divall, Hubub

Last month we wrote about the ‘30 wear rule‘ when buying a new item of clothing. Why should a Christmas jumper be any different? Here are our top tips on how to get the most out of your Christmas jumper and prevent it from becoming textile waste.

1. Start wearing your jumper early

Libby started wearing her Christmas jumper at Halloween

I visited my family in Scotland in October, where they have more reason to wear jumpers for longer. It was Halloween but my niece Libby was wearing the above red sweatshirt adorned with snowflakes and an image of a cute black cat and the words ‘Meowy Christmas’. Do you know what, it looked fantastic! The black cat ticked the Halloween box and it was genuinely a warm and item of clothing that she loves and will wear throughout the winter.

2. Worn it before? So What?

My husband went out this evening for his annual Christmas curry club wearing a Christmas Jumper he has owned for 7 years and it is still going. Do you think anyone really remembers if you have worn it before? And if they do, then explain it is your favourite and you are saving another piece of clothing from reaching landfill.

3. Upcycle your Christmas jumper

If tip 2 isn’t quite for you and you want to update your Christmas jumper each year, then add a few embellishments. We love this tip from our friends at the Ealing Repair Cafe. Maria added a Christmas hat to her daughter’s non-Christmas jumper. Add some pompoms, ribbon, sequins. Any small change will make your jumper feel like it is all new again. Of course you can create a Christmas jumper from a plain jumper. As we did at our workshop with The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine back in 2019.

4. Take the Christmas out of your jumper

I’ve seen some really over the top Christmas jumpers, which might be difficult to update to an all-season jumper. In this case, I refer you to points 1 and 2. If your jumper is a bit more subtle, then hide the Christmas references. Eleanor updated this semi-plain sweatshirt by cutting strips of a lightweight fabric. Thread a needle with a double a length of sewing thread approximately 45cm. Knot the end. Fold over the fabric at approximately 5cm folds. Sew through the centre of all the layers. Continue with more lengths of fabric, changing the colours if you wish. Pull together and secure with a couple of back stitches and a knot. Repeat until you have enough ruching to cover the message on your jumper. Alternatively, use the Boro and Sashiko technique to patch over the festivity on your jumper.

5. Swap with a friend

OK, you’ve worn your jumper for 7 years and fancy a change. Find a friend the same clothes size as you and swap your jumpers. Host a Christmas jumper swap with a group of friends or colleagues. Best to do it soon whilst everyone remembers where their jumper is and can wear it over the holidays.

Maybe you haven’t bought a Christmas jumper yet and still thinking about getting into the popular craze. I spotted the jumpers at the top of this post in the window of my local charity shop and they had lots more inside. Buy from a charity shop-wear-donate-repeat. Use it like a form of rental and the money all goes to charity.

Join us on the 20th December at The Remakery in South London. Bring along a plain jumper to update into a Christmas jumper and we will provide some festive trims. Bringing your regular clothes mending is fine too. Book via Eventbrite.

Will I wear it 30 times?

Tips on how to buy ethically during Black Friday

Those of you have attended our workshops or follow us on social media know that our ethos all year round is to mend our clothes and choose second hand to avoid buying new. With all the noise around Black Friday it is difficult to avoid all the seemingly good discounts. I’ll admit to making the most of the discount off my favourite natural beauty brand but I wrote a list before I went shopping so as not to get tempted by discounts and buy only what I needed.

When buying new clothes a good tip is to question yourself ‘will I wear it 30 times?’ A philosophy created by Livia Firth, founder of Eco-Age to help reduce the number of clothes bought and not worn. We like this explanation on Cariki’s blog. It is also helpful to ask yourself ‘can I buy it second hand?’ or if it is an item of clothing that needs replacing, ‘can I mend it?‘.

When shopping for new clothes it is useful to have a check list of the values that are most important to you. For example buying clothes made from organic fabrics and ensuring the brands pay their factory workers a fair wage. I wrote the above list about 8 years ago when I started understanding more about sustainable fashion. I realise now that this list is idealistic but it has resulted in me buying less, choosing second hand clothes, mending and upcycling clothes or making my own from pre-loved fabrics.

FASH Forward is a new online sustainable fashion magazine. Lots of tips from how to wash clothes to mending shoes and wear to buy sustainable sportswear. We are definitely going to visit the packaging exhibition at the Design Museum thanks to FASH Foward’s recommendation. Read the Winter Issue here. Thanks to Ailís for including us in her excellent magazine.

I like to remember that Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving in the US, as it was a day that retailers are supposed to be in the black, or credit. It is a holiday in the US and people start their Christmas shopping. In the UK we seemed to have inherited the buying frenzy without the day of thanks. I’ve been celebrating Thanksgiving with my American friend for the past 10 years to make her feel more at home. It is an enjoyable day with our families eating a delicious dinner without the commercialism of gifts. At the end of the meal we take turns in sharing what we have thanks for. This year I gave thanks that The Create Place introduced Eleanor and I and for the support from our workshop attendees and followers. Thank you!

COP26: What can we do?

with COP26 finished in Glasgow, it feels like climate change is firmly on the agenda. A UN report found that if we carry on at our current rate of growth by 2050, it will take the equivalent of almost 3 planets worth of resources to maintain our modern lifestyles.

But what can we do now? With so many world leaders having met at COP26 it’s a really important time to demand action from our governments, whether by contacting them directly or signing petitions. Contacting the companies that make our clothes, food and other products to demand transparency and change in their unsustainable supply chains can help to make them take action.

On a personal level, using the clothes and products we already own and repairing them when they’re broken can help save resources. Sign up for our newsletter to find out more about our clothes mending workshops, including a free monthly virtual mend-a-long.

For more information on COP26 The Yikes Podcast has a great episode explaining what COP26 is and why it’s important to keep climate change on the agenda. We also like Pebble Magazines 5 key take aways from the event.

How to re-patch jeans

Jeans are probably the most popular item people bring to our workshops. It is really tricky to find jeans to fit perfectly and once you find a pair you don’t want to stop wearing them. We have helped many people repair their favourite jeans to be worn again and again. However, it can happen that the repair needs repairing.

I fixed my nieces favourite jeans about two years ago. She has worn them continually and they need repairing again. I know I should be encouraging her to repair her own jeans, that will be the next step! Patches are great but they do weaken the fabric and can rip again after lots of wear. There is no need to unpick the original patch, just patch on top.

Here is a video to show how I got on – but I will admit that the legs of the jeans are narrow and it was tricky fitting them onto my sewing machine.

Autumn Clothes Mending Events

Have you started wearing your winter clothes and noticed they need a bit of TLC? We have arranged lots of clothes mending workshops to help you those jumpers, tights and socks darned, jeans patched and hems repaired.

31 October | ‘Fix your Knitwear’ workshop at Woodfield Pavilion

Join us for this workshop to pick up some new sewing techniques that will help you to repair and refresh your tired knitwear. Save a jumper Save the planet!

Tickets are £15 per person (plus booking fee) and includes a small kit of 4 x needles, a selection of yarns (3 woollen yarns and 2 cotton yarns) and a ‘How to Darn’ instructional card.


1 November | Fast Fashion Therapy at home via Zoom

  • Join us via Zoom with your mending and a sewing kit.
  • Sign up for our newsletter for the Zoom link, which will be sent a few days before
  • The session is free
  • It isn’t a formal teaching session, an hour to encourage us all to get our clothes mended.
  • 7:30 to 8:30pm

6th November | Sutton Japanese Boro Workshop

Set in the unique Tudor setting of Whitehall Historic House, this workshop will help you mend and up-cycle old or damaged clothes. The workshop will take you through the basics ‘visible mending’ techniques to leave you feeling All materials and kit will be provided in the workshop.

8 + 22 November at The Create Place

A regular sewing workshop at The Create Place in Bethnal Green Eleanor and Sarah are on hand to help you repair and upcycle your clothes, practice techniques on examples or bring along your own clothes to repair and alter.

6:30 to 8pm – Free

Email us to book your place


15 November at The Remakery

A regular sewing workshop: Eleanor and Sarah are on hand to help you repair and upcycle your clothes, practice techniques on examples or bring along your own clothes to repair and alter.

£3.50 book via Eventbrite


View all of these events and future ones on our Calendar

Big Green Weekend & Tooting RepairFest at Woodfield Pavilion

We’ll be joining forces with the Woodfield Pavilion, in Tooting Bec Common, to host some workshops as part of their Big Green Weekend and Tooting RepairFest on the weekend of 30th and 31st October.

The first workshop on Saturday 30th will be a ‘Collaborative Protest Coat’ workshop, where we’ll be asking people to take part in stitching a community protest coat using the slogan ‘Repair for our future!’. The workshop runs from 12pm – 2.30pm and it’s free to attend, you can find out more details and sign up on Eventbrite here.

The second workshop on Sunday 31st will be a ‘Fix your Knitwear’ workshop where we’ll be covering a range of visible and invisible mending skills that can be used to repair holes in jumpers, tidy up ragged cuffs, or cover stains including basic darning, Swiss darning, and some ‘quick fix’ techniques. The workshop runs from 1pm – 2.30pm and tickets are £15 (plus booking fee) including a small kit to take home with you, you can find more information and book your ticket on Eventbrite here.

Check out www.thewoodfield.org to find what else is going on for Woodfield Pavilion’s Big Green Weekend over 30th and 31st October.

We’re also working with Tooting RepairFest, which celebrates and promotes local fixing and mending, launches this week! Full details, including how to book events (and a link to a map of local repair businesses) HERE

Second Hand September

Campaign by Oxfam UK

As it is Oxfam’s #secondhandseptember this month, we’ll be sharing some of our favourite second hand clothing that we’ve collected over the years! We treat buying second hand and repairing our clothes as a year round obsession but if you’re new to the world of second hand, this month is a great place to start! Every September Oxfam asks people to make a pledge to only buy second hand for the month to help reduce the number of clothes going to landfill and raise awareness around the need for more sustainability in the fashion industry. You can do this either buy shopping in charity shops, using resale apps and sites or taking part in a clothing swap.

Eleanor’s favourite second hand outfit

Eleanor: I got into buying second hand when I was a teenager as vintage clothes were coming back into fashion and the high street in my hometown pretty much only had charity shops to choose from. Skip forward ten years and I’ve ended up in Streatham, which apparently has the most charity shops on a high street in Europe (I haven’t fact checked that but there are a lot!). So buying second hand has become second nature. A little about my second hand outfit – the blue floral kimono I inherited from my Nanna (with some patching and darning to keep it together), the patterned velvet top was a Depop purchase, the black Levi skirt was bought in a vintage shop in Brighton, the gold necklace as also inherited and my Puma trainers were another Depop purchase!

Sarah: This top started life as a large scarf. I saw it in a charity shop on the south coast. I’m really into 1980’s prints at the moment and was drawn to it’s graphic style and bright colours. I’m not a scarf person so I turned it into a top. There was plenty of fabric and I kept the frayed hem of the scarf for the hem of my top. I used a pattern I found in a charity shop. Charity shops are a great source of second hand sewing equipment and haberdashery.

What are you wearing this SecondhandSeptember?

Second Hand Clothing Mountain

Find out why we are supporting Oxfam’s Secondhand September – our blog post tries to explain why we have a mountain of clothes and tips on how to reduce textile waste.

Clothes mending workshops in London

Fast Fashion Therapy at The Create Place, Bethnal Green

Mending Monday was in full swing at The Create Place this week. Thanks to everyone who came along, here is how we got on…

Jess brought a few items along including these dungarees and a halter neck dress that had both ripped in the side seams. She pinned the seams back together before stitching them on the sewing machine. She finished off the edges with a zig zag stitch to prevent the seams from fraying. Jess also fixed a blouse where the sleeve had come away from the cuff. She brought the fabric down to the inside of the cuff and fixed it with a zig zag stitch on the sewing machine. 

Sarah returned with another pair of jeans to fix. They had the common problem of fraying on the inner thigh seam and in the knee.  Sarah didn’t want to throw the jeans away as there was nothing wrong with the rest of the denim. She used the sewing machine to secure the patch and cover the holes with a zig zag stitch. Sarah also brought a blouse where the sleeves were too tight. She cut off the sleeves and is in the process of neatening the edges to create a sleeveless blouse.

Eileen brought along this beautiful printed skirt which sadly has a couple of rips in the back. She didn’t want to give up on the skirt so is repairing it with a patch. Rummaging in the fabric stash, Eileen found this happy clashing patch to reinforce the weak fabric on her skirt. She started to repair the tear using a Boro stitch.

Connor brought along a couple of pairs of jeans to repair that had holes in them. He had never used a sewing machine before… As you can see, he did a great job patching the jeans using a zig zag stitch on the sewing machine. And a bright red contrast stitch on the reverse. 

Karen was busy recovering a seat cushion cover and ask questions on how to mend a blouse and a pair of trousers that had ripped. It is work in progress so we will post photos on a later newsletter. Want to join us? scroll down to find more information on how to join one of our in person or virtual workshops…

Want to join us to mend your clothes? We host regular workshops on a Monday evening:

1st Monday of the month – virtual (and free) mend-a-long via Google hangout. Sign up for our newsletter for joining details.

2nd and 4th Monday of the month – at The Create Place, Bethnal Green. Email us to book your free place.

3rd Monday of the month – The Remakery, Brixton. Book via Eventbrite, £3.50 per person.

We often host other workshops in and around London. Sign up for our newsletter for more details or get in touch if you would like us to host a workshop at your event.