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.

Mending Workshops IRL!

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

Justin did a great job mending a rather large patch on the knee of his jeans. First of all he reinforced the hole by placing a denim patch behind the hole. Then zig zag stitched it in place using the sewing machine. He ironed on these fun patches over the hole. We recommended to Justin to hand sew the patches using an over stitch. It helps keep them in place. 

Sarah brought her favourite jeans with her to fix. They had the common problem of fraying on the inner thigh seam. 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.

Jess found a replacement button that co-ordinated with the button on the other side of the dungarees. It was a shank button and she sewed it on with a double thread to prevent it from falling off again. How to sew on a button. Jess found a replacement button that co-ordinated with the button on the other side of the dungarees. It was a shank button and she sewed it on with a double thread to prevent it from falling off again. How to sew on a button.

Scroll down to find more information on how to join one of our in person or online workshops…

Sutton

Saturday 3 July, 2 to 3:30pm ‘Fix your Clothes’ Workshop at Whitehall Historic House, Sutton: In this ‘Fix your Clothes’ workshop hosted by Whitehall Historic House, we’ll give you an introduction to the repair skills of darning and patching, and provide you with some of the materials you need to get started. Each participant will receive a kit to use during the workshop, the kit will include a selection of woven and knitted fabric patches, 1 cotton yarn, 1 woollen yarn, 1 regular sewing thread, 2 needles, and an instructional card for each technique for you to look back at after the workshop. Tickets are £10 Book via Eventbright.

The Remakery, Brixton, London

Third Monday of the month 6:30 to 8pm : We have teamed up with The Remakery for a regular clothes mending workshop. The format is the same as our session at The Create Place. Bring along an item of clothing that needs mending, along with a basic sewing kit. There are a few sewing machines available, iron and ironing board. Please let us know what you are mending in advance and we can bring along the relevant materials as we don’t have any storage at The Remakery. Book via Eventbrite, cost is £3.50.

The Create Place, Bethnal Green, London

Second and Fourth Mondays of the month 6:30 to 8pm We are back at The Create Place in Bethnal Green. Spaces are limited to 4 people and full details will be sent in advance so we can stay Covid safe. To help manage the limited space only one person can book one place per month. For example if you book for the 14th June you can’t book for 28th June. We are not advertising on Eventbrite, please email us if you would like to book for July.

First Monday of the month we host a free online mend-a-long. Bring along a couple of pieces of clothes mending with a basic sewing kit. Connect with us on video call and join in the chat as we mend. Feel free to ask us and the group questions. Sign up for our newsletter for joining details which are sent a few days in advance (previously on Zoom but we are exploring other platforms). (no online workshop in July, next meet up is 2nd August.

We look forward to seeing you online or in person at a workshop soon. 

Fashion Revolution Week

Fashion Revolution influenced us to teach and encourage others to mend their clothes. If you haven’t heard of the movement before, they were founded in the wake of the Rana Plaza disaster in 2013 and have become the world’s largest fashion activism movement, challenging the consumers, policymakers and fashion brands through education. Fashion Revolution week co-insides with the anniversary of the disaster. It is an opportunity to ask our favourite brands #whomademyclothes? and help us to refresh the values that we adhere to all year, mending clothes rather than always buying new.


The fibres our clothes are made of have a huge impact on the Earth. From the natural resources required to grow fibres such as cotton and viscose. To the waste left over from turning it into yarn and fabric. We will cover some of the most popular fibres and what is involved in their production. Plus there effect on our Earth. We investigated Cotton, Polyester, Viscose and Chemicals.

We tasked the brands we bought from to encourage transparency within their supply chain. Of course, it doesn’t matter how old your garment is or whether it is second hand, it is still relevant to ask the brand #whomademyclothes? . Read our top tips on how to approach your favourite brand.

Just over one year on from the start of the first lockdown in the U.K. and during Fashion Revolution Week, we wanted to reflect on how these changes have affected those working in the fashion industry. Many saw the first lockdown as an opportunity for the fashion industry to hit pause and come out the other side of it more sustainable, but are we actually any closer to this?  Find out more here.

Fashion Question Time has become a key part of the Fashion Revolution Week calendar over the last few years and acts as an essential platform in bringing together activists, legislators and business owners, allowing the general public to ask them questions and hearing their ideas from inside the industry. Read our full summary here.


Diary Dates

There are lots of ways to get involved in Fashion Revolution Week, including mending your clothes of course! Here are some of the events that we are planning…

Mend-a-long

Monday 19th April, 7:30 to 8:30pm (Via Zoom)

Bring along one or two items of clothing and a basic sewing kit. Join in the chat whilst we collectively mend our clothes. Feel free to ask us any clothes mending questions or how you can get involved in Fashion Revolution Week – sign up to our newsletter for joining details

Thursday 22nd April, 7:30 to 8:30pm (Instagram Live)

We thought we would try and Instagram live session – ask us any clothes mending conundrums or tips on how to get involved in Fashion Revolution Week @fastfashiontherapy

Saturday 24th April, 5:30pm

We are teaming up with the Remakery again to bring you a clothes-mend-a-long session. Book your place via Eventbrite.


If you are interested in learning more about the fashion industry, it’s complex supply chains and how it can improve it’s carbon footprint – we recommend registering for Fashion Question Time. It is a powerful platform to debate the future of the fashion industry. The panel is chaired by Baroness Lola Young, co-chair and cross-bench peer for the UK’s All-Party Parliamentary Group: Ethics and Sustainability in Fashion. Book via Eventbrite (hosted via Zoom). We also recommend this BBC Radio 4 programme by Patrick Grant that offers a good explanation of fashion industry supply chains.

Clothes Mending Workshops at Home

Our workshops at The Create Place are on pause whilst we are in Tier 4 (we are based in London). We are hoping to get back to our workshops in a socially distanced way very soon.

In the meantime we are continuing with our social mending sessions on Zoom, the first Tuesday of the month. Bring along some clothes mending whilst we chat. We will be on hand to answer any clothes mending questions you have. Not joined one of our sessions before? Everyone is welcome. It isn’t a teaching workshop, more of a social clothes mending session. An hour to encourage us all to mend our clothes. Bring along one or two items of clothing to mend with a basic sewing kit. We chat whilst we mend and feel free to ask clothes mending questions to us and the group. Sign up for our newsletter to receive Zoom joining details.


Our Repair cafe offers 1:1 advice via video call. Book for a 30 minute session and we can get you started with your mend. Tickets are £9 including booking fee. £2.50 will be donated to charity (Refuge, Fashion Revolution and Trussell Trust). Email us to arrange a time and book your appointment.


Tips to help you start mending



Clothing Maintenance 101: Overstitch

How to sew an overstitch

Overstitch is a simple and effective hand sewing technique. It is really useful when it comes to mending clothes. The stitch can prevent fraying, hold two pieces of fabric together or useful for patching.

Watch our video on how to sew an overstitch

Examples of using an overstitch

Repairing a rip on a pillowcase by cutting a square of fabric from inside the pillowcase
Using a thicker thread and a larger stitch has created a decorative effect when patching this leather bag with faux suede
Mending a bra by overstitching a piece of ribbon over the underwire channel preventing the wire from poking out and digging into the skin.
Creating an Elbow patch by using a thicker yarn and sewing the stitches very close together. Georgina from Pebble Magazine mended her tweed jacket by covering the elbow rib with the patch.