Tag Archives: repair

Fixing a Hole

After showing photos of dozens of shoes I do not wear, I thought I’d better hurry up and post about a piece of vintage clothing that I do wear.  Most of the vintage in my closet is outerwear.   I have so many coats and jackets you’d think I lived at the North Pole.  The truth is that I love and wear them all, but the last thing I thought I needed was another coat.  But them I spotted this plaid  Pendleton at the local Goodwill.  I tried it on.  It fit.

The nice thing about outerwear is that the fit is forgiving.  You usually don’t have to worry about your waist size and precise measurements.  A coat is meant to be worn over stuff, and so if it is in your general size range, it will usually work.  Maybe that is why I have so many vintage coats!

After getting over the greatness of the plaid, I couldn’t help but notice all the nice little details – the way the collar can be worn open or tight against the neck, the adjustible sleeve bands, the wonderfulness of the shoulder seam with its little pleat in the back.

But then there was the bad news.  If you look at a lot of vintage wool, you will already have guessed that there were several small moth holes.  But I didn’t let that keep me from my purchase, because I know a little about reweaving.

Reweaving is exactly what the word implies.  You take some of the yarn from the wool garment, and carefully work it over and under the hole.  The bulkier the yarn, the easier it is to fix a hole.  Solid colors are easier than plaids, and plain tweeds are the easiest of all.  It is possible to reweave a fine wool, but that is a job for experts.  I know my limitations, and this Pendleton wool was just bulky enough for me to be able to accomplish the job.

This hole is relatively easy to reweave, as it is mainly in the blue area.  Because of that, I treated it as I would a solid color.  First, I went under the lining to see if there was enough yarn in the seam allowances.  There was, so I pulled off a strand of blue. ( If the seam allowance doesn’t have the yarn you need, you can pull it from the inside of a pocket, or even the hem.  I took some red yarn from a pocket, and you cannot even tell where I pulled the yarn out.)

You have to have a needle with a large eye, or one of those trick ones that has a slit where you pull the yarn down through the eye.  Honestly, threading the needle is often the hardest part!   Then, carefully work the needle under a strand of the weave that leads to the hole.  Attach the yarn on both sides of the hole, just by working your yarn into the fabric.  Depending on the size of the hole, you may need to go back across a couple of times.  Then do the same in the perpendicular direction, but this time, weave over and under the yarn you have just attached.

Basically, you are putting in a little woven spot to replace what the moth ate!

And here is the final product.  It isn’t perfect, but it looks a whole lot better than a hole.

If you want to try this, I suggest you practice  it on a very bulky tweed.  Note that it does not work on sweaters and knits – only on woven fabrics.  And if you need a visual on how this is accomplished, check out this video by a professional reweaver.


Filed under Sewing

Vintage Pringle Meets Pendleton

One of the things I’m always looking for at thrift stores is vintage and high quality cashmere sweaters.  I know I can go to Macy’s after the first of the year and buy a new cashmere sweater for $49.99, but cashmere is one of those items that it is true that you get what you pay for.  After touching Pringle, or most other Scottish cashmeres, you’ll never be content with Charter Club again.

As with many used items, you really have to be careful about condition when buying used cashmere.  Some advice:  1)  If it pills, don’t buy it.  2)  Learn to mend small holes 3) Don’t be afraid to hand wash cashmere.  I use conditioner shampoo.

Last winter I gave up most of my sloppy old sweatshirts in favor of cashmere sweaters.  They not only look better, they are warmer.  And given that they are easily found in thrifts, I had no trouble finding more than I actually needed.  That’s when it becomes easy to be picky.  Why buy a thin made in China crew neck in an off color when there is a blue Brooks Brothers hefty cable knit turtleneck made in Scotland right beside it?

I recently found a nice tan Pringle, button front with a collar.  I knew I’d wear it a lot, but there were two issues – the elbows were getting thin, and there was a small hole.  I learned a long time ago that holes are just part of owning cashmere, and that if I was to wear it, I’d have to learn to mend them.  So I did.

The elbows were a larger problem.  I decided to go with patches.  I like the look of elbow patches.  I can remember a time when all men’s sweaters had them, so maybe this preference is nostalgic in nature.

Here is where it is convenient to have a fabric stash.  A stash is not hording.  A stash is made up of fabrics and trims and buttons you love and can see yourself using.  My stash is carefully edited!  I had no problem finding a fabric I liked, a Pendleton plaid taken from a skirt made unusable by the presence of multiple moth holes.

I cut two identical ovals (being careful to avoid those pesky holes) and carefully pinned them to the elbows.  I then used buttonhole twist to hand sew the patches to the sweater, using a blanket stitch.   This is quite easy, the only problem being that it is easy to catch up both layers of the sleeve instead of just the one where the patch is applied.

So here is the finished product.  Add cool autumn days and I’m set!



Filed under Sewing

Cashmere by Pringle Scarf, with a little bit extra


I found a plain Pringle cashmere scarf at the last-chance thrift store.  Even though it was riddled with moth bites, it was just too soft and luxurious to let go to the city dump. So I bought it, popped it into a plastic bag and into the freezor (to kill any additional moth larve) and washed it in conditioning shampoo.  I wasn’t sure about how to cover the holes though.

At first I thought embroidery.  I actually took some wool yarn and worked a little on a design.  Then I found a pitiful white cashmere coat, badly stained and again, with the nasty little moth nibbles.  My next thought was appliques.

I finally went with cutout flowers from the white cashmere.  I attached them to the scarf with French knots of old silk twist.  There are actually more flowers than nibbles; they were so much fun to make that I couldn’t stop myself!

A word of caution:  I do not normally advocate the cutting up of vintage clothing.  The only time I would ever do it is if the item is totally unusable, or if it has no value beyond being an object of clothing.  I’ve said this before, damaged vintage CAN have value if it is an example of an important designer or is a rare example of a style.  Know what you have before you cut, please.


Posted by Inky:

that turned out lovely and what a perfect use for luscious cashmere!

Wednesday, October 21st 2009 @ 1:11 PM

Posted by Joules:

Lizzie, I adore this. If you are not keeping it, may I have first dibs? It’s gorgeous, and represents what I believe in. Plus, it’s purple! This is the real meaning of “green”.

Wednesday, October 21st 2009 @ 1:20 PM

Posted by Jennifer:

Wow! That turned out so cute! Good for you for rescuing that scarf! I couldn’t let vintage Pringle go to the dump either!

Wednesday, October 21st 2009 @ 6:16 PM

Posted by Tom Tuttle from Tacoma:

this is so pretty. good work!

Thursday, October 22nd 2009 @ 7:56 AM

Posted by Lizzie:

Thanks so much, all. I’m glad I’m not the only person who liked it! Joules, I made this for myself, and had not thought about selling it. Sorry!!

Thursday, October 22nd 2009 @ 10:08 AM

Posted by Amari:

Too cute! And in purple, my fav!

Sunday, October 25th 2009 @ 5:55 PM

Posted by Lori:

Oh, I love this. I have a beautiful little pale pink cashmere sweater with one tiny little hole in the front near the neck. I’ve been wondering what to do with it, and this is a perfect idea.What a great blog! So glad I found it.

Saturday, November 14th 2009 @ 11:06 AM

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Do As I Do…

I pulled this sweet little 60s dress out of the Goodwill bin and knew it would be perfect for me this summer.  I tried it on, and it fit, but was a very awkward length.  The dress is designed to hit right above the knee, but I’m short, and it hit at the bottom of my kneecap.

So I had a choice to make – I could sell it or I could shorten it.

Because of the rick rack, I decided shortening it would work, and then if I wanted to sell it later, I could return it to the original length without there being a faded line.  So I shortened it without cutting, a practice I’ve been trying to encourage.  Here’s how:

This was the original hem length, about three inches.

I took out the entire hem, and pressed the old fold flat.  This is very important if you want the hem to remain the same as you hem it.  The iron is your friend.

I then folded up the new hem at the rickrack stitching line.  I pressed this fold flat.

Notice that the hemtaped edge is wider than the dress and so there is extra fabric that has to be eased into the hem.  This was easy on this A-line dress, as the difference was small.  If you were hemming a fuller skirt, you would have to run an ease-stitch through the edge and then gather it.

The hemmed edge is not flat, as I had to ease in the fullness.

But after pressing (yes, again!) the hem is flat.

And the finished product…

Oh, what the heck…


Posted by Andrea:

You look lovely!

Monday, April 27th 2009 @ 12:56 AM

Posted by Lizzie:

Oh I’m jealous, you look so fab and springlike! We are just starting to get our cooler weather here is Australia. I wore a cardi over a summer dress yesterday and it wasn’t enough! Thanks for the hemming tips.

Monday, April 27th 2009 @ 4:53 PM

Posted by Carol:

Cute! It’s a perfect Summewr dress!

Monday, April 27th 2009 @ 6:19 PM

Posted by The Red Velvet Shoe:

Wonderful! It’s a great summer dress~~could use it today, we’re hitting 88 here on the east coast!
I did a “sewing” post today too 🙂

Tuesday, April 28th 2009 @ 8:59 AM

Posted by Lucitebox:

You look so cute! I actually like it more shortened with the hem being trimmed with the ric-rac. Great job.

Wednesday, April 29th 2009 @ 7:45 AM

Posted by Kim@ Fast Eddie’s Retro Rags:

You are such a peach! (The dress is not too shabby either.)

Thursday, April 30th 2009 @ 5:50 PM

Posted by Lizzie:

Ya’ll are TOO kind. I need a camera that makes me taller!!

Monday, May 11th 2009 @ 7:38 AM


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Filed under Sewing, Vintage Clothing

Should You be Cutting Up Vintage clothing?

I belong to several chat groups that are devoted to discussing vintage clothing, and this is one question  that keeps cropping up.  My guess is that the debate keeps going because there are so many sellers now who make chopping off the bottom of vintage dresses a regular part of business.

We all come to a discussion like this from different perspectives. My perspective is from a collector, but it is also from a child of the 70s who didn’t think twice about cutting/altering/improving a piece of old clothing. And it’s from the perspective of a VERY short person who has lopped off the bottom of many a bell-bottom pant back in the day!  So I do understand the urge to cut.

I’ve been in enough thrifts and vintage clothing stores, seen enough ebay and etsy and other website listings to realize that the world will probably never run out of 1970s maxi dresses, 1980s MOB dresses and 1990s grungewear. People have come to think of clothing as disposible, and considering the way it has been constructed in the past 30 or so years, that’s probably a true assumption.  We can’t possibly save every single piece of old clothing in original condition. As someone rightly said, clothing was meant to be worn.

But as a collector, I just don’t want things that have been altered to the place where they can’t be put right. And I’m not just talking about high dollar items. Right now I’m looking for a pair of Bobbie Brooks elephant bells to match a sweater I have from about 1972-3. When I find them, I expect they will be cheap, but I have to have a pair in the original length. To put it in $$$$ terms, for a pair of un-shortened ones, I’d pay around $30; but for shortened ones, $0.

So the purpose behind this post is to encourage you to put the scissors away.  If you must make alterations, try to make them without cutting the fabric so that the garment could possibly be put back in the original state.

But what if you find a great vintage piece that has already been altered, or that has severe damage.  I pulled a wonderful 1946-7 black cocktail dress with a sequined design off a thrift rack yesterday. I left it there, as the skirt was maybe 12 inches long! But I nearly took it just for the sequins. Or it would have made a seriously cute top, but there are plenty of vinties in Asheville and I’m sure someone else will spot it and remodel it somehow.

I buy “sick” vintage all the time just for the fabric. I have a holey and faded work smock made from a print of airline logos, probably from the late 40s. (See above photo)  It’s going to make a great travel journal cover.  And I just finished making a bag for my gym shoes from the skirt of a 1950s dress that had unfortunate holes in it.  I added a bit of vintage rick-rack and ribbon, and some black fabric from a thrift.

But again, be sure before you cut even a damaged garment.  There are some labels that are so rare that even a damaged item could have considerable value.  So do your homework before cutting.  Visit a forum like VFG and ask questions.

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Filed under Viewpoint, Vintage Clothing