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How to extend the life of your clothes

Clothes in an open drawer in need of new life

With the cost of living rising sharply in the UK we wanted to put together some advice for you to use in order to make your clothes last and look better for longer. This blog will cover both how to look after the clothes you already have and a few things to bear in mind when shopping for new clothes.

By getting the most out of your clothes you are also championing sustainability and helping to protect the environment at a time where resources are running out and people are thinking more about preventing items going to landfill. So, read on and see how you can do your bit.

Making the most of the clothes you already have

There are lots of ways you can look after the clothes you already have at home, making these clothes last longer is better for both your pocket and the environment. We will have a look at a few of the simple things you can do at home to make your clothes go the distance.

How to repair your clothes

Purple thread, pins, thimble and tape measure.

It's not always possible to repair every item of clothing that gets damaged but it is worth a try in order to save money and help prevent so much clothing from going into landfill.

When your favourite leggings get a hole at the seam don't just throw them out! Pick up your needle and cotton and have a go at repairing the hole.

If you have a hole or tear that isn't at a seam, patching the hole with another small piece of fabric may be a better bet. You can experiment using different fabrics and patterns to turn any mishap into a new fashion opportunity and create your own bespoke pieces for your wardrobe.

You certainly don't always need a sewing machine or a great deal of expertise for a quick fix clothing repair. There are plenty of tutorials available online or, you can always contact us here at Hemming Birds to see what we can do to help repair your garments.

With more complicated clothing repairs like how to fix a zip, a sewing machine or a professional seamstress may be required.

Past repairing? Perhaps you can get creative and repurpose an item if you're handy with some scissors and a sewing machine!

Follow the washing instructions on your clothes

Clothes in a white washing machine

Different fabrics and fabric colours respond differently to washing and tumble drying. Reading the care instructions on your clothes can help prevent fading as well as improving the lifespan of the garments and avoiding shrinkage and other accidents.

Washing clothes in cooler water and avoiding bleaching products is also a good idea to protect fabrics.

You will also want to invest in a delicates bag to protect all your delicate fabrics when they go into the wash to avoid them snagging or ripping when they get caught in the washing machine.

Wash your clothing less

Lady holding a ball of colourful clothes

Yes, you read that right, we're telling you not to keep putting those garments through the wash again and again.

The fibres from all your clothes will lose pigment and be put under stress with each wash or dry clean, so trying to get several wears from an item of clothing rather than just one wear before it gets added to the laundry pile will save energy and help your clothes last longer.

Dry cleaning uses chemicals rather than water to clean the fabrics which can actually harm them in the long run. Not to mention that some of the most used chemicals are toxic to humans and contaminate soil and waterways.

We recommend giving them the once over visually, as well as a sniff, to see if they pass the test to be worn again!

Keep a stain removal pen handy

Young black woman looking down at white shirt stained with food

A stain removal pen can be handy to take out with you, especially when you order spaghetti before remembering you're wearing a white shirt!

Treating stains as quickly as possible can help make them more likely to come out in the wash and mean that you're not throwing away a perfectly good item of clothing. Remember to treat any stains in cold water so as not to set the stain in the fibres of the fabric.

Store your clothes well - don't get wrongly hung up!

Clothes hanger full of men's shirts

How you hang your clothes up can really affect how well they keep their shape which can, in turn, help decide how long you want to wear them for.

Wooden hangers

Used for suits and blazers.

Padded hangers

Used for delicates such as lingerie and other lightweight garments.

Plastic hangers

Can be used for most garments, including t-shirts.

Wire hangers

Best avoided altogether.

For anything that doesn't require hanging up, be sure to store well folded and somewhere out of direct sunlight to avoid fading or sun bleaching.

Ditch the dryer

Instead of using the tumble dryer allow your clothes to dry naturally on a drying rack to prevent excess stress to the fibres, it will even help you save on your electricity bill.

In the winter months where clothes can take longer to dry inside, consider investing in a dehumidifier which will speed up the process and help prevent clothing from staying damp and getting fusty.

No spray zone

Woman holding hairspray

Something you might not have thought about is the impact of perfumes and hairspray on your clothes. They can cause colour loss on your outfits so why not use products before you get dressed where possible and avoid spraying them directly onto any clothing.

Things to consider when buying new clothes

Avoid buying into fast fashion

Huge Selection Different Used Clothes

You might be wondering why your clothes wear out so quickly, part of the reason is due to fast fashion in the fashion industry. Trends come and go, poor quality clothes, made using cheap labour and materials that release microplastics in the wash, are cheap to buy and online shopping is making shopping more accessible around the clock.

Read on for a few environmentally friendly fashion ideas when out shopping that buck the fast fashion trend.

Choose key garments that work for a number of occasions

A beautiful woman in denim sat on a yellow chair

You don't have to shop every single trend in order to be fashionable. By investing in a few key, good quality basics that can be worn differently or paired with other items you can have a whole variety of outfits for your wardrobe.

Choose your fibres carefully

Cotton Flower

There is some debate as to which types of clothing fibres are more durable. Plastic-containing fibres like polyester may last longer but these can release microplastics into the water in the wash, meaning plastic-containing fibres have severe impact on both disposal and on the wider environment.

More options for plant-based fibres are becoming available that have been specifically designed to be more durable and environmentally friendly and use less water to cultivate compared to plants like cotton.

Rock the second hand shops

Blond curly haired woman browsing in a thrift store

When searching for new clothes, where affordable, try to buy better quality garments that will last longer, this might mean buying new or it could mean searching your local charity shops or thrift stores for good quality pieces for a fraction of the original price tag.

Buying second hand is a great sustainable option as you're helping to prevent many of these clothes going to landfill.

Look into clothing alterations

Young woman at a sewing machine

You can look into having clothing alterations done in order to make any second hand pieces custom fit to your body shape... or to keep the clothes you love even if you lose or gain a few pounds!

Here at Hemming Birds we even have an online alterations service so, wherever you are in the UK, your clothes can be perfectly altered allowing you to wear with confidence.


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