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Make it Do: Sewing & Mending a More Sustainable Lifestyle

Sewing & Mending | Boston General Store

There's an old adage that says, "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without." It was a popular saying during the Great Depression and again during World War II. Many of our parents and grandparents lived by this motto, and it's an expression that still has merit today for anyone interested in making more sustainable choices as part of a low-waste lifestyle. 

Being able to mend our clothes is an important part of "making it do,” and it's why we've made sure to stock our stores with an extensive selection of sewing notions as well as brushes and cleaners for taking out stains and dirt. When we can extend the life of a shirt by replacing a button or get a few more wears out of a sweater by patching a hole, we are reducing textile waste in landfills and lessening our contribution to the environmental impacts associated with the production of new clothing. 

Mending | Boston General Store

Being Mindful Shoppers 

Making our clothing last starts with making thoughtful choices when we buy. Selecting clothing made from quality materials assembled using techniques that ensure durability is key to building a wardrobe consisting of pieces that will withstand the test of time and hold up to repair when needed. Cheaply made garments are harder to fix; skimpy seam allowances make alterations difficult, cheap thread leads to buttons popping off and getting lost, and thin or flimsy fabric doesn’t stand up to a good scrubbing when we stain it. It’s easier to make something last if it’s made to last! 

Merchant & Mills

Merchant & Mills is a UK-based purveyor of sewing tools and notions that are designed with style and purpose in mind. With high quality tools packaged in simple, sustainable packaging, their line offers a wide range of implements for sewing and mending clothing. 

Not sure where to start? If you’re just starting out and want to have a selection of basic tools on hand for fixing fallen hems and replacing buttons, you can’t go wrong with the Rapid Repair Kit. If you’ve got needle and thread already and are ready to graduate to making basic alterations like shortening straps or letting out a side seam, give the Selected Notions Sewing Set a try. It’s got essentials like needles, pins, and scissors, but it also includes time-saving tools like a needle threader and a seam ripper that are super handy to have in your sewing kit! 

Repairing holes in knit garments like sweaters and socks is accomplished through a process called darning. Darning involves weaving over the hole using a needle and thick thread. There are lots of great tutorial videos online to guide you through it, and Merchant & Mills’ Long Darners are the perfect tools for the job. If you have knits in need of mending, give darning a try and make them last another season or two! 

Merchant & Mills | Boston General Store

Sewing & Darning Kits

When buttons pop off or socks get a little threadbare, it’s useful to have the proper repair tools handy when you need them. Sajou’s  Complete Sewing Set contains essential notions for making quick repairs, all housed in a 2-layer, paper-covered box that features iconic motifs from the French haberdashery brand. 

We’ve also recently added a  Darning and Patching Kit, assembled for us by Deanna Lynch, a textile designer and hand weaver based in Asheville, NC. Each hand-assembled kit contains tools for darning and patching as well as a selection of unique hand-cut patches, all tucked into a zippered canvas case. It even comes with a useful instruction manual written by Deanna herself.


How-To Guides

Raleigh Briggs is a Seattle-based author, herbalist, and DIY homemaker. She’s written a few handy guides published by Microcosm Publishing, and we keep a couple of favorites stocked in the stores.  Fix Your Clothes: The Sustainable Magic of Mending, Patching, and Darning is the perfect accompaniment to our sewing notions as it gives tips and instructions for stocking your sewing kit, making basic fixes to clothing, and even preserving and protecting canvas and leather goods. 

Another of Briggs’ books,  Make It Last: Sustainably and Affordably Preserving What We Love, expands on these ideas to include thoughts on extending the life of our food and household items. Both books can be found in our Library collection along with other great resources for achieving a more sustainable and less disposable lifestyle. 

How To Guides | Boston General Store

At the End: Recycle

Have you used it up, worn it out, and made it do until it can’t do no more? Then it’s time to recycle! Each year, thousands of pounds of textile waste end up in landfills. It is a problem exacerbated by the growing demand for fast fashion. Keep your clothing and household textiles out of the landfill by giving them new life. Use this link to find donation centers near you that will accept your textile waste for recycling.

Our hope is to be able to provide you with the tools you need to embrace a more sustainable lifestyle. Thanks for taking the low-waste journey with us. By making small changes to our daily lives, like choosing to fix & repair instead of discard & replace, we are doing our part to tread lightly and leave the earth better than we found it.

Shop our Sustainable Clothing Care Collection for these tools and more and join the slow-fashion movement.

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