In 2009, I lived in Denmark on savings and a short-term contract. I came back that September and worked through the first half of 2010, when I graduated from my program at McGill. Since then, I’ve been looking for a non-profit job; times are tough, and I’m in a terrible state for clothes again. I would rather use common sense and not buy more on credit, so I’ve combed through the fallow piles that I’ve gathered and not tossed over the past year. Pants are in limited supply now, so I have to mend and alter what I can: a pair of Miss Sixty jeans, too small for me, given by a friend; another pair of pants I’ve frayed the seams on that needs repair on the waistband; a pair of checked slacks for work that unfortunately met the teeth of a very medium-sized, caramel-coloured pet, and the same for a pair of purple cords. So I went to the Grande Bibliotheque and found this book: Mend it!

What competency we have lost in clothing maintenance by coming to rely upon cheaply made clothes in a rapid cycle of fashion changes! Yet Canadian design is not supported because of this loss of competency. We go for established name brands and not new designers with interesting ideas. Having “interesting ideas” comes from the skill to create something out of fabric. If you’ve never created something out of fabric before, how can you appreciate the idea or the tailoring that goes into your workaday wardrobe? So you stick to the tried-and-true, and sudden fads.

Regardless of whether fashion is your thing, well-made clothes never go out of style, given that they are amenable to alterations. Most of us have to alter the pants we buy, anyway, shortening and hemming the legs, tucking a too-loose waistband, especially on mid-rise (the best rise) pants. Lately, with stovepipe legs being in fashion, tapering your jeans and pants is necessary. The unfortunate side effects of this style are it makes most legs seem short and butts appear either big or completely flat, and knees wear out if you wear them long enough.

I digress. I have now read up on the techniques to repair my checked pants (repairing checks is difficult!) and I’ll tackle that next week. I’ll tell you about the project I started last week.

I took a pair of khaki pants,  split the inseams, and hand-stitched them together in the form of a skirt. I then pinned an upward tuck in the fabric so that it lies nicely over my ass (derrière, behind, what is the best word?), rather than cling as pants are supposed to do. Once that’s hand-stitched and the skirt is gently laundered and ironed, I will finish the inside edges by machine, and restitch over my handwork. Then I’ll finish the kick-pleat. I may have to pick apart the waistband, reinforce it with new tape, and stitch the edge. Then iron it, try it on, and make little adjustments until the skirt is satisfactory, and then finish the seams. As pants make for a mighty long skirt, I have a couple of styling options to use that will make the skirt a business/casual length, without cutting the fabric. It’s unfortunate I can’t show you the Before, but when it’s done, I’ll post the after.  (Updated two weeks later: it didn’t look right at all. I abandoned the project.)

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