Learn Basic Sewing Skills (96/365)

You lose a button off of your favorite shirt. What do you do?

Your son receives a pair of pants where the length and fit is perfect but the waist is just too loose. What do you do?

You accidentally rip the hem out of a really nice shirt, leaving it looking raggy. What do you do?

Without basic sewing skills, these items of clothing are either headed for the rag bag or the yard sale or else into the hands of someone you pay to repair such items for you. In either case, there’s either a sharp loss in value or a direct cost to you.

With basic sewing skills, these garments are mended in short order, which means they continue to be useful pieces of your wardrobe and save you from the expense of having to buy a new one.

Learn Basic Sewing Skills (96/365)

The nice thing is that most simple repairs for clothing only require a needle, some thread, and a bit of know-how (and perhaps a bit of practice). You don’t really need a sewing machine for any of the above tasks. Give me some thread and a needle and I can easily fix the first and third problems, and without looking at guides I can make a pretty strong attempt at the second.

The key is to try. If you don’t try, you have a useless garment, which is the same exact situation you’re in if you try and fail at something like this.

(Most of the time, giving something a try is the best route. Usually, the best case scenario is that you fixed something without having to pay someone to do it for you and you learned something along the way. The worst case scenario is the situation you already find yourself in, with just a broken item.)

The best place to start is by learning a few basic techniques, particularly how to thread a needle.

Once you have those very basic things down, all you have to do is Google for the project you want to tackle. There are great visual guides for sewing on a button and even more complicated things like hemming a pair of pants.

What does this have to do with saving money? Ask yourself this. Which is more expensive: a sewing needle and a bit of thread or a new shirt? That’s the advantage of having basic sewing skills. You no longer have to stop wearing clothes because of minor damage. You can fix them yourself, quickly and easily.

This post is part of a yearlong series called “365 Ways to Live Cheap (Revisited),” in which I’m revisiting the entries from my book “365 Ways to Live Cheap,” which is available at Amazon and at bookstores everywhere. Images courtesy of Brittany Lynne Photography, the proprietor of which is my “photography intern” for this project.

Trent Hamm
Trent Hamm
Founder of The Simple Dollar

Trent Hamm founded The Simple Dollar in 2006 after developing innovative financial strategies to get out of debt. Since then, he’s written three books (published by Simon & Schuster and Financial Times Press), contributed to Business Insider, US News & World Report, Yahoo Finance, and Lifehacker, and been featured in The New York Times, TIME, Forbes, The Guardian, and elsewhere.

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