When hand-made clothing dies

It’s a sad fact of life that clothes don’t last forever. Yes, you could make them out of steel, or lock them in a climate-controlled wardrobe for 100 years, but that does sort of defeat the point of wearing clothes in the first place. But what do you do when you damage things that you’ve made yourself?

I’ve had two clothing disasters lately. Firstly, my Crescent skirt. I’ve worn this everywhere. It’s been to the USA, Italy, Norway, and  every park in East London. It’s perfect for hot weather. Not only that, but it took me weeks to sew. I topstitched everything with the proper topstitching thread, and even measured the hem instead of eyeballing it at the ironing board as usual. And then this happens:

A rogue pen has left a massive, permanent ink stain all over one side. Damn you pen!

I dyed it dark blue to try and hide it. Which didn’t work. And has left it a strange, patchy colour that looks vaguely country & western.


The other casualty was this psychedelic pink dress. It’s always been a bit tight across the shoulders, and in Bournemouth this summer I was reaching over a fence on the sand-dunes to pick some flowers when the fabric ripped right across the armhole. (Which is surely the twee-est clothing accident EVER.)

It does look a bit like I burst the seams with my enormous biceps, but sadly this was not the case. I haven’t been lifting weights  while wearing hand-made clothing (not yet anyway).

What do you do when your carefully made clothes suffer injuries? To mend or not to mend? I think the Crescent skirt is a goner, but the dress is fixable. But I find mending and altering the most boring form of sewing, hands down. What about you?


22 thoughts on “When hand-made clothing dies

  1. thesecretlifeofseams September 11, 2012 / 2:16 PM

    Mending sucks, boooo! Think the hand printing on the skirt could be a goer, perhaps a downwards pointing navy chevron, think the stain could be re-purposed into that. Plus: chevrons = amazingness. I love that psychedelic dress, could you remove the sleeves perhaps? Or take the sleeve off, and re-do it shorter?

    • yesilikethat September 13, 2012 / 11:17 PM

      Ahhhh this is the best idea ever!! I’m having visions of potato print chevron patterns all over. Must get on to this. Not sure about the dress, I’m thinking I could do some kind of fusible mending on the back, the print is so mad that you wouldn’t notice! x

  2. Law September 10, 2012 / 6:25 PM

    Noo, can you not put some embroidery over the stain on the crescent skirt? Or a cute patch of some kind?

    • yesilikethat September 11, 2012 / 7:26 AM

      Will have to work out what I can do, I did love this skirt so much!

  3. Donna September 10, 2012 / 5:12 PM

    Oh no! I just got pizza sauce on one of my hand-made shirts the other day; I think it’s slightly dead. I really don’t like mending either. I think having the article fixed afterwards, but I can easily let the mending sit for 9 months before I get around to it.

    • Donna September 10, 2012 / 5:13 PM

      Whoops I meant “I *like* having the article fixed…

    • yesilikethat September 11, 2012 / 7:26 AM

      Me too, and sometimes it’s so quick to mend that you feel silly not doing it sooner! Hopefully the pizza sauce will come out, tomato-y stains are brutal.

    • yesilikethat September 10, 2012 / 4:53 PM

      It would be nice to see this skirt have a happy ending! That rug is gorgeous, think it would quickly become covered in red wine stains in this household though 🙂

  4. Heather Lou September 10, 2012 / 3:07 PM

    “Tweeest clothing accident ever” HA HA HA. But this post is making me sad. Maybe you can throw a (flowered?!) patch on the stain? Or wear it anyway STAIN BE DAMNED! Total bummer about your dress. I just had a silk chiffon blouse (not me-made but still) explode at both armpits the other day. It was a heartbreaker. And also made me wonder if I was emitting armpit acid or something.

    • yesilikethat September 10, 2012 / 3:12 PM

      Yeah, maybe I could make ink-stained clothing the new look! Or do a Jackson Pollock and cover it with many more splattery paint stains. It’s always the armpits that break for me too. Think it’s because everything I make is too tight around the front shoulder area, but can’t work out what fitting alteration I need to do.

  5. Jacq C September 10, 2012 / 1:39 PM

    Oh how disappointing after all your hard work, wretched pens, I’ve just had one leak all over a handmade bag, not sure if it’s salvagable yet. I think the patch idea is a great one. I’m rubbish at mending and altering, it’s the only pile of fabric I have that gets bigger!

    • yesilikethat September 10, 2012 / 1:48 PM

      Pens are definitely evil. Although it was my fault for putting my precious skirt in a bag with a big old leaky pen 😦 I share your aversion to mending! Luckily that means that friends and family have mostly given up asking me to alter clothes for them.

    • yesilikethat September 10, 2012 / 1:39 PM

      LOVE those moth patches, how have I not seen those? Good idea on trying another re-dye, thanks for the suggestion!

  6. theperfectnose September 10, 2012 / 12:59 PM

    Possible suggestions for the current stuff-paint over the stain with fabric paint or block print over it or some botanical illustration maybe? De-sleeve the dress. Or turn it into a strapless/ sweetheart maybe? Or just turn the sleeves into ruffles… Re my stuff: I’ve one cardi I spent a week on (it’s a kit blazer basically) that has been bobbling/piling like crazy but I really don’t care XD It still looks awesome X).

    • yesilikethat September 10, 2012 / 3:17 PM

      I’m not too fussy about bobbling either, I think it just means you have nice soft fabric/yarn. Block printing could be cool!

  7. Roisin Muldoon September 10, 2012 / 12:33 PM

    I got superglue on one of my Cambie dresses, and as the dress is gingham I’m not sure putting a patch over it would look right. It’s only a wee splodge and probably not anything someone else would notice but it makes me feel sad anyway. You could get a patch for your skirt – or embroider something around it to make it look like a design feature, I’m thinking like the work of Laura Lees, here?

    Lovely to meet you on Friday, by the way! x

    • yesilikethat September 10, 2012 / 12:36 PM

      Some kind of nautical patch might be cool…or I was thinking of getting a couple of GIANT buttons and sewing on each side. However I predict it will instead lie at the bottom of my wardrobe for the next few years, due to my extreme laziness. Really nice to meet you too! Your dress was so amazing! x

  8. Clare September 10, 2012 / 12:06 PM

    I was going to suggest a patch too or some kind of applique with embroidery on both sides to make it look deliberate. But I’m the kind of person who will hang on to a damaged item of clothing for years in complete denial of the fact that while it may be in the mending basket, the chances that I’m going to actually bother fixing it are close to zero!

    • yesilikethat September 10, 2012 / 1:39 PM

      I’m glad I’m not alone in my laziness! New things are so much more exciting than mending the old ones…

  9. Miriana September 10, 2012 / 11:54 AM

    some kind of patch over the stain?

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