Five Reasons I Don’t Mend

No I will not hem your pants.

A got an SOS call from a friend over the weekend who is about to jet off to Europe and she realised her favourite skirt had a tear in it. She needed to give it some quick emergency surgery to salvage it, so she called me.

Of course I said yes, because she is a good buddy and she also brought a bottle of wine with her! Ha. But usually I don’t do mending. My husband thinks it’s silly that I can sew but I’d rather pay someone else for alterations and mending jobs, but I’m sticking to it, and here are my reasons why.

1. Just because I can sew, doesn’t mean I can sew ANYTHING.

A common misconception amongst non sewists. “Oh Ros makes quilts. I’m sure she could make some curtains for my holiday house!” Uh, nope. Wouldn’t have a clue where to begin.

2. I’m not skilled in garment construction.

I can make simple dresses for my kids and at a stretch I can make the odd thing for myself. But the interior of the garment is pretty messy, even with an overlocker, and I’m not familiar with the varying skills it takes to finish a garment well. A garment I make will not look store bought. If I mend something, it will not look professionally done.

3. Professionals have experience.

Many are trained tailors or people who have had careers in textile and garment factories as machinists. They have great working knowledge of fit, size and how to work with different fabric. They have spent decades sewing professionally and I will happily pay for those skills.

4. Professionals have the right equipment.

My machines are great, don’t get me wrong, but a professional alterations business has industrial machines that can work with a huge variety of fabrics, work with bulk and can replicate the appearance of a store bought garment. They also have a endless threads so they can often colour match exactly. Recently my husband needed a small repair on a leather jacket. I tried, but my needles just weren’t strong enough. I took it to the local place I use and the jacket was not only mended, but I couldn’t even tell that the tear was ever there.

5. Time is money.

In my case, between work, family and all the other busy things that go on in our day to day family life, when I sew, I want it to be fun. Hemming my husband’s jeans do not fit into that category.  Chances are those jeans will sit on the pile for a month. Taking it to the tailor and paying $15 will have them done in 24 hours and completed to a professional standard. Worth paying for in my opinion.

Poster from the British WW2 Make Do and Mend Campaign.
Poster from the British WW2 Make Do and Mend Campaign.

So what do you think? Are you a mender or will you happily outsource?

40 thoughts on “Five Reasons I Don’t Mend

  1. I will mend, but only family stuff and very close friends. Someone asked me to alter a jacket the other day and I refused. I know that the work involved is substantial. Not a quick fix. I’m willing to alter and mend my own clothes, but I’ll only take on very simple alterations for others. Like hemming etc.

    1. Yes me too – and even with family and close friends it has to be a job I know I can complete properly. Last time I bought jeans (I always need them hemmed because the legs are too long for me) the store included hemming for free! Win! Thanks Uniqlo 🙂

  2. The last time I tried to hem pants I turned them into shorts. And, even then they weren’t straight.
    So, no you don’t want me doing your mending.
    Anything I have that needs mending goes out to be professionally done.

    1. That’s funny, I can imagine! While it’s great to have sewing skills, it’s important to also know where our limitations are! 🙂

  3. I agree with your every word. My family and friends plus husband all think the same. Just because I have three sewing machines doesn’t mean I can accomplish any sewing project . I don’t mind the sewing bit it’s getting the right length , pinning and cutting I not a fan of. We have to stick to our guns but I always feel guilty.

    1. I’ve given up feeling guilty! I just say really nicely…”I could try but I know this tailor who would do a wonderful job for a good price.” I think often people have mending jobs but they don’t know where to go and get it done. A personal recommendation helps.

  4. See I’m the opposite Ros. I was raised as a make do and mend girl plus sewing my own clothes but I’m not very experienced at quilting. I’d need a designated room to do it in because not being able to finish it straight away would drive me nuts. Even though I’ve hemmed my fair share of jeans, I agree that they’re never the same as a professional. Even as a young girl I’ve always had a sewing basket on hand for quick mending jobs.

    1. Good on you Anne! I think being able to mend if you can, especially small jobs like sewing on buttons or small seam tears, is really important. So many of these skills are being lost. It’s also important to avoid the disposable fashion attitude so many people seem to have. Small stain or tear? Just chuck it in the bin! *GASPS*

  5. Good for you. Also, people completely underestimate the time and money involved in sewing projects. My sister recently asked me if I could make 15 frilly, skirted aprons for my niece’s birthday. Absolutely, but it’ll cost ya!

    1. Yes that is so true! I’ve had a few people say “Oh you make quilts? You can make one for me!” uh no thanks. Unless you want to provide the $$$$ for the materials.

  6. I do all my own clothing alterations and those of close family, but thankfully haven’t been asked by friends. Agree totally – it’s the least fun aspect of sewing. I’ve been known to put off hemming jeans (we’re all shorties) for over a year… LOL!!! Reminds me, that I have LOTS of alterations in the pile that I’m procrastinating about. The one I least want to tackle is taking up sleeves on a lined jacket.

    I have never taken anything to a tailor, but one of my sons has found there are variations in quality. He was less than impressed when a shirt was returned with the two fronts of unequal lengths.

    1. Yes there are definitely variations in quality. Luckily I have found a very good and reliable place at my local shopping centre.

  7. Ross, you have my vote every time, a seamstress I am not, I know my limitations and when only a firm “no” will suffice. Have a great day. Maria xx

  8. I hate mending also. After my grandson’s back pack came back for about the fourth time with a different rip I suggested maybe he just plain needed a new one. My husband jeans, Ha, a patch on the leg only developed another one right below. If an iron on is out of the question, how about making them into rags for the garage!!! I have way to many quilt items to make. A person just has to learn when to say no. Love the post.

    1. Haha yes Patti I agree – sometimes people need to just let an item go! My husband is really bad for this…he still wears socks with huge holes in them until I sneak them into the bin! xx

  9. My mending consists of taking up the kids school uniform hems and sewing on the odd button. That said I took their sport polo shirts to the professional to have the hems re-done and she wanted $25/shirt… needless to say I did it myself!

    1. Oh yes! Sometimes the prices are crazy. An alterations place once charged my husband $75 to alter some trousers. He paid it though, because it was work uniform that needed to fit him correctly and luckily his work paid for it to be done, but still – it was probably more than the trousers were worth!

  10. I tell friends that I charge $40 an hour for alterations, mending and garment construction. That usually sends them to a tailor. If not, I charge them fairly for the time it took away from a quilt.

  11. I totally agree with you! I will mend my own things once and a while, but I am not a seamstress, I am a sewist. Should have seen me trying to explain that one to my husband who thinks I can “sew” anything. he-he

  12. My husband asks me to mend, shorten or repair, Ugh!!! They sit neatly in a pile, until one day while he is at golf, I get the bottom few and take them to the local tailor. Mid week I collect them, husband pleased with my skilful efforts, buys me dinner out ’cause I’ve been working my fingers to the bone. Oh yes, I pay in cash!!!!

  13. Having learned to sew and make clothes long before I taught myself to quilt I’m someone who will happy mend my or my family’s clothes as long as they are worth mending and it’s within my skill set. Alterations are a different matter. Minor alterations like hemming I can do easily but something more complex I would get professionally done. That said I rarely ever have items that need complex alterations as I can rarely justify spending the money. To me a cheap item of clothing isn’t worth the expense of paying for alterations and if I’m going to pay a lot for something in the first place I’m not going to spend the money unless it fits well to begin with.

    1. Very true Paula – I’m so much more careful about buying clothes these days. Having some decent sewing skills has given me a more critical eye. I’ve also got rid of a lot and now have essentially a capsule wardrobe, so it’s a huge thing for me to buy any clothes at all! It has to be the best fit and must mix and match with all the other clothes I own.

  14. I grew up learning how to make and alter my own clothes, because there was just not enough money to go around for new ones. I will happily hem up my hubby’s jeans or my friend’s kid’s school dresses (as she is a single pensioner) or sew back on a few buttons. The most ironic thing I find is when my friends ask me to make/alter something for them I explain that’s fine, but you need to come over several times during or I won’t know if the size/fit is right, and I find this often makes them realize just how much time and effort goes in to making something and they end up just buying off the rack.

    One of my favourite pastimes is making refashioned or altered clothing. You can pull apart something that is not quite right and make it in to something completely different. There is a lot more room for error as you are aiming to make something unique anyway, and it allows you to get a greater understanding of garment construction.

  15. There is no fun factor in mending… I would rather iron than mend something, and I hate ironing… No, I mean I HATE ironing haha

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