How to Repair Socks

 In Howto, Sustainability

Alongside donating good quality, undamaged clothing to charities such as Vinnies or The Smith Family; a pursuit for which there will always be a place, the principle of attaining the greatest wear from our clothing today whilst maintaining it for tomorrow is a sound one. By opting to dispose of fewer clothes, we are making a conscientious choice for our planet because surprisingly, the manufacturing of clothing often comes at an environmental price, the impact of which differs from fabric to fabric but can include:

  • Production of Nitrous Oxide – a greenhouse gas 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
    (production of nylon and polyester)
  • Intense use of pesticides which injure and kill many people each year
    (production of Cotton)
  • Exposure to sheep dip
    (production of Wool)
  • Exploitation and child labour in the manufacturing of garments
    (various clothing manufacturers)

Whilst fashions appear to come and go, the cycle of style goes around and around. Today’s trends, it would appear, often hark back to ages past and clothing is no exception. If we hang on to our wardrobe for long enough, the untrendy becomes “in” again and we can draw upon this longevity in our garments by implementing a few simple sewing or haberdashery methods.

Consider the humble pair of socks; a common example of clothing that is usually thrown away for want of a small amount of sewing attention. There are few implements needed to make an acceptable repair (we are not talking tailoring here!) and purchased items become the first investments in your personal sewing kit!

7 Steps to Repair Socks:

1. Choose a thread close to the colour and thickness of the existing sock yarn. Colours do not have to match exactly and you may even opt to choose a contrasting colour to make the process easier.

2. Thread the needle with one or two strands (depending on the weight of the sock). Tie a knot in the thread, turn the sock inside out.

3. Push out the toe of the sock using a darning egg, or anything else that is round (a tennis ball perhaps) to help. You may also just use your other hand – stick it in the sock like you would your foot; this method is slightly more difficult.

4. Trim away any ragged edges using little sewing scissors to snip-away any threads. Just be careful not to make the hole any larger at this stage.

5. Push the needle through one end of the hole. Then make a large ‘running stich’ to the other side of the hole. A running stitch is a basic sewing stitch in which the needle is threaded through the inside, to the right and back to the original starting side of the sock.

6. Repeat the above process up and over the hole, going back and forth until the hole is blocked up with parallel stitches.

7. Sew stitches perpendicular to the first set of parallel stitches. This will reinforce the patch and is an optional addition.

“Make do and Mend” was once an approach employed by households worldwide. Yet today, we are verging on a disposable clothing society, aided by our alignment with the fashion industry, an industry that has a vested interest in selling us the latest season’s threads and disposing of the season just past. In contrast, customisation of garments, which uses the same principles and skills of repairing, can take a mass-produced item and make it uniquely individual to the owner, month after month.

For example, a strategically placed patch on a mass produced pair of jeans not only repairs, but improves the look of clothing, reflecting the owner’s personality. The classic stars and stripes ‘peace’ insignia from the 1970’s or the yellow happy smiley face from the 1980’s,  are iconic examples of this type of clothing customisation.

So why not make a note to yourself to start throwing away less clothing, collect some modest sewing implements, modify one or two items and attempt some repairs of garments? In the process you will be helping the planet, attaining a unique style and saving a pretty penny or two!

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