My name is Camilla, and I have been kindly invited to guest blog on The-Thrift to talk about a subject I am very passionate about: maintaining and prolonging the life of clothes. Essentially, making them last as long as possible!
This is such an important topic and I feel that most of the time people might give up on a perfectly fine garment. They may be unaware that they can mend them, think repairs are too difficult or simply don’t have the time.
Today I want to show you three simple steps you can take in order to extend the life of your clothes. I hope you will find this useful!
Making your knitwear look brand new
One of the main issues I find when charity shopping is bobbling fabric. Once an item bobbles, people don’t know how to restore their knit to its former glory. You might want to consider investing in a fabric shave. Acquiring one of these was the best decision I ever made clothes-wise: it changed my life! A little dramatic perhaps, but it made me aware of how people wear clothes and expect them to look new without any maintenance.
I like to use the shaver on all my knits every couple of wears – an electric one is by far the best I have tried. I recommend shaving knits before you store them away, so next time you want to wear it, it’s ready for you! There’s no better feeling than wearing a de-bobbled jumper in a bobbled world.
Repairs and alteration
Mending and sewing might seem daunting, but trust me, it’s really simple and it doesn’t always need to look tidy. I am far from being a good seamstress, but I have always challenged myself with alterations to make some of my thrift finds fit me perfectly.
Buying pre-loved is great if you want to learn how to alter and fix things. It doesn’t cost too much and you can normally find higher quality fabrics that are easier to work with. If altering isn’t your thing, knowing how to mend small holes, rips and unravelling threads is very useful, so again, you can stop your clothes from deteriorating prematurely.
I can assure you that if you follow a few tutorials on YouTube, you will be able to sew!
A couple of years ago, I learned how to darn socks, it was fun to learn a new skill and I still have those socks in my wardrobe! I also mended my husband’s work denim using a Japanese patchwork technique called boro. I love when I can see that a mend has been done on a garment!
Washing clothes properly
Many garments are wasted because people can misread instructions and end up damaging their clothes. Firstly, there is absolutely no need to use excessive heat when you wash your clothes. The cleaning and stain removal action occurs naturally with the movement and spinning of the washing machine. I normally wash my clothes at 20ºC max (most of the time, just a cold wash) and towels and bedding at 30ºC. I even venture to put my knitwear in the washing machine at a cold delicate wash: but I only recommend doing this if you have a reliable machine.
There is no need to wash 100% wool fabrics regularly. Wool is a breathable natural material, so if sweat doesn’t come into direct contact with wool, you should be able to remove any odour by airing your piece – just make sure you wear a t-shirt underneath your jumper and you are good to go.
When washing your clothes, investing in an all-natural delicate and biodegradable laundry detergent is a must. I have gone one step further and use soap nuts, which have the added bonus of being a naturally low-impact product. I totally stand by them, they work a treat!
If you don’t have access to a natural detergent, I think that in general, avoiding fabric conditioner is something that we all could do. This product builds up on your clothes fibres and can clog them, cancelling their natural breathable proprieties and potentially causing bad odours after a while, oh the irony!
Taking care of our clothes is not only important in order to prolong their lifespan, but also that once our time with our items has come to an end – we can increase their chances of resale after we donate them.
To donate well cared-for items is such an important thing to do. I know that when I go charity shopping I favour a high quality, good condition piece over something that has been shrunk or isn’t in top shape. Making sure our clothes last longer is key. As most items will outlive us and the least we can do is to extend their lives as much as possible before they end up in the landfill.
Thank you again to Barnardo’s for inviting me to talk about something I love! I will be answering any questions in the comments below.