Fashion First Aid


Photo Credit: Jewish Press

We’ve all had little wardrobe emergencies – at the times that are less than convenient.

You know what I mean. You’re already running late when you realize that the button on your jacket is literally about to fall off. You pull your favorite sweatshirt out of the dryer only to discover that the drawstring that is supposed to be running through its hood is lying in a jumbled heap at the bottom of the drum. The list of potential sartorial mishaps goes on and on, but thankfully, there are plenty of fixes to save the day as well as steps you can take to prevent problems from ever occurring in the first place.


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While I absolutely refuse to buy anything made out of acrylic because it pills terribly, there are times when sweaters made with other yarns end up covered in unsightly little fuzz balls. I bought a decent quality, battery-operated fabric shaver many moons ago, and while I can’t recall how much I paid for it, it was worth every penny. You do need to be careful and use a light touch so it doesn’t accidentally eat your sweater like an oversized Pac Man gone wild, but my kids and I have reached for the fuzz buster on many an occasion, trimming off those unattractive bumps in no time at all. While I have never tried it, I have heard of people using a disposable razor to shave their sweaters in a pinch, but given that you are working with an unprotected blade (or two or three…), I would definitely advise extra caution if you decide to go that route.

Another well-used item in my house has been a crochet needle that has been with me longer than my husband and any of my kids. It is a size 12, metal crochet needle with a very slim hook, not like the thicker ones you come across for making blankets or sweaters, and its narrow head makes it perfect for fixing snags and pulls. Position the crocheting needle behind the errant thread on the wrong side of the garment and poke it through, catching the snag in the hook, and then pull it through to the reverse side of your fabric. That little extra loop of thread will still be there, but it will be on the inside and no one but you will ever know.

What do you do when a drawstring falls out of a waistband or the hood of your sweatshirt? Trying to wiggle it through by hand really doesn’t work all that well – trust me I have tried and failed numerous times. Instead, put a safety pin at one end of the drawstring and slide it into the casing, gently wiggling it all the way through until you can pull it out the other end. Remove the safety pin, adjust the ends of the drawstring so that it is even on both sides and you are ready to roll. If you are capable of basic sewing, find an inconspicuous place in the midpoint of the casing and run a few small stitches to attach the drawstring to the fabric to prevent further mishaps or, if you prefer, take the easy way out and tie the drawstring securely before throwing the item into the wash.

Clear nail polish can be your best friend when it comes to quick clothing fixes. If you have a button that is about to fall off, pull back on the threads from the wrong side of the garment, twist them together and dab them gently with nail polish to keep everything tightly bundled together and your loose button in place. Similarly, if you are sewing on a button, put a drop or two of nail polish on the threads at the top of the button when you finish the job to add extra staying power to your handiwork. Nail polish comes to the rescue again if you find yourself with a run in your stockings – just dot a little on at the bottom of the run to prevent it from spreading further or grab a can of hair spray and give a spritz – it will work equally well.

Faced with last minute, unexpected wrinkles? I have read time and time again that hanging things up while you shower can steam the creases out, but I have never really had a whole lot of luck with that method. Instead, take your wrinkled item, toss it in the dryer with a handful of ice cubes, and let it run for about ten minutes or so – your garment should emerge from the dryer looking a lot happier than when it went in.

If you’ve ever taken a sweater or a dress out of your washer or dryer only to find that it has suddenly shrunk a size or two, try not to panic. Instead, fill a sink or a basin with water, swirl in a few squirts of hair conditioner and then add the item in question. Let it soak for about half an hour and then take it out, lay it down on a towel and stretch it back into shape. The conditioner should have relaxed the garment’s fibers enough so that with a little bit of luck you should be able to restore it to its original size.

Like clothing, shoes are not immune to mishaps; those scuff marks and scratches showing up on the leather at all the wrong times. My first line of defense is to grab a baby wipe and see if that can fix the problem, but there have been moments when, depending on the color of the shoe in question, I have touched up the occasional spot with a Sharpie in a matching color. Those white rubber soles that you see on shoes and sneakers everywhere days can get dirty awfully fast, but with a little bit of elbow grease and either Soft Scrub or toothpaste, they can be buffed away leaving you with pristine footwear in no time at all. Notice some light dirt on suede shoes? Grab an emery board and gently buff away, keeping your shoes looking good as new.

Falling hems are a definite problem and even those who are able to sew sometimes just need a quick fix. Duct tape and masking tape are great solutions, and in some cases, you might be able to get away with using multiple safety pins, but you do need to be put them in carefully so that they don’t show through on the outside of whatever you are wearing. Fusible webbing and hem tape, both of which get sticky when ironed and bond two layers of fabric together, are actually a great solution that may even hold up for the long term.

It goes without saying that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Check your clothing and shoes when you take them off and make sure that everything is in place so that problems aren’t exacerbated in the wash or crop up unexpectedly as you are heading out the door. And by all means, if you or your family members don’t know how to sew on a button or a basic hem, the time to learn is now so that those simple repairs can be done without having to make a trip to the seamstress or tailor, saving you both time and money.


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