Dear College-Bound, Non-Sewing Friend,
When you registered for your classes, did you choose Mending 101 as an elective? Probably not. Although it should be, I’ve never seen it listed in a course catalog! Sewing Life Skills, however, are a requirement for a successful school year. So, Auntie Annette is here to go over the basics that will help you earn your BMS (Basic Mending Skills) degree.

Sewing Life Skills suppliesThe Ten Essentials
Hikers know the “Ten Essentials” are vital for guaranteed survival. It’s true with Sewing Life Skills, too, so you’ll need to pack up a kit of supplies to cover almost any emergency. If you can, get a sewing mom, dad, aunt or grandparent to help! Print this list, drop by your nearest fabric store or shop online if you don’t have one nearby.

  1. Pins and Needles
    Look for a small pincushion and a box of sharp, glass head pins. They’re easiest to find if you drop one! You’ll want needles in an assortment of sizes. Buy a pack that says “assorted sewing needles”.
  2. Threads
    Stock up on a few small spools of Coats Dual Duty XP Thread in basic colors for mending seams and hems. You’ll want to add a couple spools of super-strong Dual Duty Plus Button and Craft Thread for sewing on buttons. And, a note on thread – quality counts! Cheap thread will drive you crazy. It breaks, shreds and just isn’t worth it. You’re welcome!
  3. Scissors
    Buy scissors that are intended for fabric and keep them for fabric cutting only. Regular craft scissors aren’t as sharp and will just be frustrating.
  4. Seam Ripper
    There’s a possibility that your shirt or dress will suddenly be too tight and the seams will need to be let out. Silly clothing! Or, if your new pants are too long, you’ll rip the hem out before sewing a new one.
  5. Tape Measure
    Make sure you get one that is flexible, yet sturdy so it doesn’t crack or tear easily.
  6. Buttons
    Assorted buttons in multiple sizes and basic colors will be good enough until you can get to a fabric store to buy matching buttons.
  7. Bias Tape and Trims
    Trims are invaluable for adding a little length to a skirt or sleeve. These are also fun for adding a spark of style to a plain shirt on a boring evening, too.
  8. Bits of Fabric
    Holes and worn spots happen and an assortment of scraps for patching can be life saving. Check with a friend or family member who sews. They always save scraps and they’ll be happy to share!
  9. Fusible Hem Tape
    When all else fails . . . fuse! Perfect for those who don’t really sew, you’ll appreciate the easy, quick value of hem tape.
  10. Fusible Interfacing
    Buy a 1/4 yard each of woven and knit interfacing and make sure the instructions are included. This is wonderful stuff for rescuing and reinforcing rips and tears.

The Three Must-Know Skills
Sewing Life Skills don’t have to be hard or scary. Just a few easy techniques will keep the clothes on your back from falling into a ragged heap. Using YouTube as our text book, here are loads of sewing newbie-friendly video links for you.

Sewing Life Skills button sewing

  1. Buttons
    Probably the most common clothing malfunction and the number one reason for Sewing Life Skills is a detached button or three. Rather than dissolving into full-blown ugly crying, you can quickly sew it back on!
    The Art of Manliness has a great button repair video for shirts and jackets. – click here.
    Click here for a video that shows how to sew a button on a coat. And, just so you feel a little more comfortable, click here to learn to sew on a shank button.Sewing Life Skills pant hemming
  2. Hems
    A fallen hem is a thing of fright and a skirt or pants that are too long can make you want to hide in the closet with them.
    I found a great video for you on hemming pants! It’s a little long, but well worth it – click here. You’ll do the same on a dress, shirt or skirt.
    Click here for a video that shows hand hemming and how to use the fusible hem tape you bought for your kit.Sewing Life Skills tear repair
  3. Seams
    Late night brownie and ice cream parties can add up to extra pounds and burst seams. What’s a girl or boy to do? Certainly not give up the ice cream!
    Andrew MacLaine is super fun to watch and you’ll love his teachings – click here for his video on fixing a seam by hand.
    Whether you play hard or not, rips will happen, click here to learn how to repair them when they do.

That’s it – you can now list your Basic Mending Skills degree on your post-university resume. Collect your diploma, check your closet for clothes in need and enjoy your new Sewing Life Skills!

About the Author


Annette Millard began sewing at the age of three, made her first dress at ten and is always happiest with needle, fabric and thread in her hands. Annette feels very privileged to have spent most of her work life in the sewing industry and loves teaching, making her own handmade wardrobe and writing about sewing. She spent over ten years as the newsletter and web site content writer for the Pacific Northwest's largest locally-owned family of fabric stores and is now thrilled to have the opportunity to share her passion for sewing with the Sewing Secrets community. Follow Annette and more of her sewing adventures on her own blog, www.sewfullife.com.

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