Janina Gruber: Yes, it does happen from time to time: it’s usually side seams or hems that have come undone that can be repaired quickly by hand with a backstitch. This is the classic, standard stitch on a sewing machine, and it’s super handy. Certain parts are often too big for the models, which I temporarily make smaller with a basting stitch. They can then be quickly separated again depending on use.
What are the benefits of repairing clothes?
Dealing with your clothes more consciously is sustainable, you save money and give your older clothes a second chance. Once learned, you can use it anytime, anywhere, and it’s fun too!
What clothing repair tools should everyone have at home? Which ones for on the go?
The be-all and end-all for on the go is, for example, (small) scissors, thread in basic colours, sewing needles, pins and a small variety of spare buttons. You can use it to straighten seams and hems, sew on buttons and mend small holes. A measuring tape and spare material as well as fabric scraps are always handy to have at home.
Do you actively take the time to repair clothes and how can you make something like this a regular routine in your everyday life?
You should always try to give a second chance to the clothes you have and may not wear anymore. It’s worth looking at the pieces and wondering why you bought them some time ago and why you thought they were so great. I love fixing little flaws over a cup of tea and some music. That gets me into the flow quickly and I don’t think about anything. Many of our workshop participants have said how nice they find the feeling of simply not thinking about anything when repairing clothing. It feels like a kind of meditation and is totally calming.
Needlework is an important craft when it comes to clothing repairing. Who taught you and where did you learn the most important tricks?
I actually learned a lot from my mother, in addition to my classic training as a tailor. But sewing is a lot of “learning by doing” and having patience. The more often you do it, the better it will be. One should know the value of a piece of clothing and not see clothing as disposable items, even if the price is low.
What do you do when there’s really nothing more you can do? What are the alternatives to throwing away?
When there is really no hope left, I make cleaning rags out of the clothes or cut them up into small pieces and strips and use them to fill boxes when I want to ship things that are fragile. It’s perfect for that, and it looks nice too.