I’ve said before that Lucy Siegle’s excellent book To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing Out The World is the main reason that I began to look at the way in which I consumed.
If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend doing so (or other books on the subject, like How to Break Up with Fast Fashion by Lauren Bravo). These insights into the way that clothes are made and disposed of are the basis of my mending skills. By looking after the apparel we have, we delay the need for new garments and prevent mostly functional pieces from ending up in landfill.
So, as I had a shirt collar to turn, I thought I’d share the process with you today, in case it’s of any use.
This is an easy job to do and can be done either by hand or with a sewing machine (though the machine does give a lovely, neat finish). You only need to unpick/sew one line of stitching so depending on how quick you/your machine is, this might only be a five minute job. Even photographing things as I went along, this took less than 20 minutes. And I had to rewind my bobbing.
So, here’s the shirt collar…
As you can see, the fabric has worn thin and there are holes in it.
To begin, I need to unpick the line of stitching which connects the collar to the main body of the shirt. You can see this in the above picture, just below where my thumb is.
I use little scissors to start this process because it makes it easier to get the seam ripper in, but you can use a ripper straight away, or scissors all the way along – whatever is easiest, really.
Here we are, almost finished…
And now we have a seperate shirt and collar. And here you have some options.
a. flip the collar (as I detail below) to extend the life of the shirt.
b. do a better job than I did and insert some iron-on interfacing into the collar to better support the holey bit, then flip the collar (as detailed below).
c. Remove the collar completely and sew up the top of the shirt, thus creating a ‘granddad shirt’ neckline.
I opted for – obviously – option a, mostly because I have no interfacing at present. When holes appear in the collar on the other side, I’ll probably opt for option c. I’m not sure how that’ll look on a checked-shirt, but it’ll be perfectly fine for sleeping in, if nothing else.
Anyways, on with the sewing.
I flipped the collar and pinned it in place. Here you can see the holes are now on the outside of the shirt. This means that when the collar is folded back on itself, they won’t be visible.
After that, it’s just a matter of feeding the shirt through the machine, being sure to catch all the layers of fabric. This is easier than it might sound because you can just follow the previous line of machine stitching. *
And then you’re done. The collar looks as good as new on this side, and it’s ready for another half-decade of service! Hooray!
Like I said to begin with, this is such a simple five minute job, and when you compare the labour and materials (i.e. some thread) with the cost of a new shirt, it’s a really easy way of saving money. This is a job I did whilst watching a video so it’s not even like it ate into any leisure time. I’d call that a win all round.
Are there any easy, quick-fixes that you do on your clothes? I would love to hear about them – maybe I can have a go!
*I’ve been asked about my sewing machine a few times now so thought I’d chat about my menagerie of machines here.
The one pictured is a Jones Family CS from 1895 – a hand-crank, bullet-bobbin, organ-needle machine. I bought it in a charity shop in Norwich in 2006 for £20 and it’s what I learned to sew on.
I do also have two electric machines – a Frister and Rossman Cub 7 from the mid-80s (which is technically my mum’s), and a Pfaff from the late 80s/early 90s (which I inherited when my mother-in-law died and am yet to use).
The Pfaff needs significant work, which I plan on having done when lockdown eases – it sat uncovered and unused for a decade so is really gummed up – but I hope to bring it back into regular use soon as it has various embroidery settings which the Jones and F&R don’t have. The Cub 7 is also in desperate need of a service, but if you’re looking for a beginners sewing machine and can find one of these gems, I can’t recommend it enough. It’s easy to use, built like a tank, and runs really quietly.
For me though, nothing will ever beat the Jones on a straight stitch. That’s literally all it does – stitch forwards in a line. I can service it myself because it’s such an elegant, unfussy machine, and because it’s a hand-crank, I can set it up anywhere. I’ve been known to sit in the garden with it on a sunny day, or in front of a film with it on the coffee table. It’s slow enough that my children can use it without it running away from them too, and that’s a massive bonus. Around 2 years ago, I did a lot of work on it, and if anyone is interested in seeing the pictures of it being brought back from sitting in storage, let me know and I can write a post on it. 🙂