When should you mend and when should you chuck?
Your favourite suit jacket has a small rip, or there is a tear on your trousers, and what about that pesky moth that has gotten into your wardrobe and chewed a small hole in your favourite suit? What do you do?
Besides it being extremely frustrating when this happens, it can easily ruin the look of your outfit. So when is it an easy mend? And when should you give up and donate the suit to the salvos?
Here are the most common repair jobs I see on a daily basis, and if they can be repaired.
- Split seam
Sometimes the stitching along the seams has just come apart due to an unfortunately angled movement, or the pocket has caught on a door handle. If the fabric is not necessarily damaged, you just need a machine stitch to fix the hole and re-enforce it to stabilise the area. This is the easiest repair and once done it will look as if it’s never been split.
- Rip in fabric
Rips can occur near pockets, knees, jacket sleeves etc. If the fabric is damaged and frayed, it can be darned. Darning is where a piece of fabric is patched under the rip to stabilise the area, and then stitching is done over the rip to make it strong. The result is visible, but very strong. Depending on where the rip is, you may choose to have it darned so the suit can be worn again. Rips in the crutch, along pockets, near seams and under cuffs should be mended, as they’re not too visible. However, if you get rips in the front of your jackets, elbows, and the middle of the knee, these can be very visible after darning.
- Moth hole
The annoying little moths and silverfish absolutely love natural fibre. In Queensland, you will often find small holes appearing on your favourite suit or jumper. Luckily, these holes can usually be mended invisibly, to save destroying a whole suit. Invisible mending is when each fibre gets woven back into the fabric, so the finish is completely invisible. However, it is very expensive and takes at least a week. For one to two moth holes, it is worth spending around $100 for invisible mending, compared to buying a new suit. Holes that are close to seams or in hidden areas of the body can be darned with a machine for a quick solution. Larger holes may cost hundreds to repair and need to be carefully considered.
- Crutch is worn out
This is caused by your thighs rubbing while you’re walking. (See my blog about Why The Crutch Wears Out)This is not due to inferiority of the fabric or its make, but it’s actually because of the nature of the fabric and everyone’s individual body shapes. The finer the fabric, the more likely the fabric will wear out.
A tailor can darn it by placing a large triangular piece of fabric inside, stitched to the damaged fabric to be re-enforced, and this may make the trousers last another six months. The result is visible, however, and the pants will feel stiffer, but the area will be stronger.
If the fabric is beyond damaged, then a tailor can cut out the fabric and replace it with a new piece. You will see a diamond-shaped seam in the crutch area, but this cannot be seen if you are standing or wearing the trousers. However, this fabric may still wear out over time if this is a common occurrence for your shape. Installing a satin saddle may slow down how fast the trousers wear out.
- Hem fallen down
Trouser hems are usually hemmed with a machine that shows almost no stitching on the outside of the fabric. This is called an invisible hem. This type of hem comes apart very easily. With the right agitation, pulling or sometimes roughage, the seam can easily unravel and the hem can come down. This does not mean that the making of the trousers is inferior, but it could also be purely bad luck or being too rough with the trousers. It can be simply fixed by taking it to a tailor and having them run it in the hemming machine a few more times.
- Belt loops worn out
This is another very common occurrence on work trousers due to the belt rubbing on the fine wool fabric. The belt loops can be easily replaced by making new ones. If you have the cut off hem from when you first bought the trousers, a tailor can use that so the loops look exactly the same. Alternatively, the tailor should find a very similar colour to make new belt loops.
- Pockets worn through
Guys tend to put a lot of things in their pockets – keys, coins, phone and wallet. Cotton pockets can often get worn through with overuse. The pockets can also be easily replaced or re-enforced by adding new cotton fabric.
- Lining broken
The lining on trousers and jackets can get worn out over time, especially near the pockets, armholes and sleeves. Lining can be easily mended and is worth the effort if the suit is still in good condition, as it is inside the jacket and cannot be seen. If it is badly damaged, the lining can even be completely replaced to increase the longevity of the suit.
- Zipper broken
Another common repair is fixing the zippers. Guys need to use their zippers many times each day, so it’s no wonder it’s one of the first parts of the trousers to get damaged. Zippers can be repaired or replaced for under $40, but please be careful with the fabric around it, as if you are too rough or in a hurry and rip the fabric, it will require darning, which is very visible.
- When to chuck your suit away
- When the rip is somewhere very obvious and longer than 5cm.
- When the fabric has thinned so much due to wear that it is shiny and out of shape.
- When there are multiple moth holes and rips.
- When the fusing has come apart and the jacket has bubbled.
- When there are stains that cannot be removed with dry cleaning.
- When the fusing has bubbled away from the fabric.