How to make clothes last longer

by - Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Very few of us are blessed with an extensive allowance for clothing. Like many mums, I try to buy my children clothes which I hope will last until they grow too big to wear them, while maintaining only a basic wardrobe of garments for myself. 

Taking a little time to care for clothes is the only way to ensure they have a long lease of life. When we look after our favourite garments, we can ensure they last for years. Or at least until we no longer want or need them!

Maintain a sewing kit for quick repairs

If you don't already have a sewing kit, it's essential that you get one - sharpish! Simple sewing kits can be bought for only a pound (take a peek in Poundland) or even less on eBay, and will usually include everything you need to get started.

Ideally a basic sewing kit should include:
  • A selection of different sized needles
  • Pins
  • A darning needle
  • Small pair of scissors
  • Threads of different colours (especially black and white)
  • Lengths of yarn for darning woollens
  • Shirt buttons
Iron on hemming tape is particularly useful to have at hand, enabling you to quickly repair loose hems on trousers (we find this happens loads with Princess' school trousers, as well as my own!)

Store spare buttons with your sewing kit

Many new garments include spare buttons, but don't leave these lying at the back of a drawer! Store these in a jar or tin alongside your sewing box and you'll always be able to find the right button for the job when it's needed.

Don't leave clothes on the bedroom floor

As we all know, children are particularly prone to this bad habit, and I'm sure many parents too are guilty of leaving clothes strewn across the bedroom when in a rush!

Encourage children to take off their school uniforms as soon as they arrive home and if they're not in need of washing hang them up to air. Work clothes too need not be washed everyday unless they are dirty, just keep spare hangers around so you can freshen them up to wear another day.

Clip hangers are excellent for hanging skirts, while clamp hangers prevent trousers from developing a crease across the middle when hung in the wardrobe.

Wire hangers are an absolute no-no: they are far too thin to support even delicate clothes and can easily cause garments to loose their shape. Try to buy wooden or more sturdy hangers whenever possible: Ikea and Poundland sell wooden hangers at bargain prices.

Look after your woollens

Jumpers should never be hung in a wardrobe as it causes them to loose their shape. Instead, fold and store in drawers, on shelves, or in those canvas hanging compartments for wardrobes which canbe found cheaply in many bargain stores.

You should also take care when washing woollen garments. Be sure to check the care instructions and hand-wash if required. Don't hang on a washing line or airer as this can cause the fabric to stretch; dry flat if possible or consider purchasing an airer specifically designed for flat drying woollens.

Tackle repairs promptly

Repairing clothes as soon as you notice the problem ensures no further damage is done and that they're ready to wear when you need them.

Iron on tape is excellent for quick fixes, while buttons can be quickly sewn back in place (especially when spares are kept with your sewing box). 

If you have a hole in your garment, cut a fabric patch 2cm bigger than the hole. Turn your garment inside-out and fold back the edges of the hole, then iron flat. Finally, pin your patch into place and sew around the edges to ensure the finished patch is neat and barely noticeable.

Always repair clothes before washing to ensure the problem does not worsen in the washing machine! It's also easy to forget that a button needs sewing or hem needs fixing as you're quickly folding clothes to put away!

Good quality clothes last longer

It goes without saying that good quality clothes last far longer than their ill-made, cheaper equivalents. While cheap clothes (such as those from Primark) may seem like a bargain, we quickly find that not all cheap clothes are economical.  

If you can, go for the slightly more expensive wardrobe essentials which will need replacing less often. One cotton tee from Marks and Spencers may cost twice as much as one from Primark, but will look good after four from the latter have been resigned to the bin!

When choosing children's clothes, watch out for stores which offer a quality guarantee - Asda for example offer a 100 day refund if clothes are found to be off unsatisfactory quality, and the children's section is very reasonably priced. This is particularly good when selecting school clothes which seem to take much more of a "beating" than clothes worn for parties and trips out!

What are your suggestions?

I'd love to learn more about caring for clothes from Glamumous readers, so if you have any tips or suggestions you'd like to share please feel free to leave a comment below.

Image credit: verypurpleperson, via Flickr

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