Ok, I put my hands up; I am bad at this. It’s not Monday, it’s Tuesday (but in the grand scheme of things, I am doing better than last week) and I’m not changing the day because I like the alliteration of Mending Monday..Mending Tuesday just doesn’t have the same ring. My plan was to spend an entire day mending different pieces and schedule these posts in every Monday for the next few weeks. I just haven’t yet found a day when I have the time to spend the whole of it stitching. I will. But for now I’m doing a weekly mend. Although I spent time mending yesterday, I didn’t quite make it to writing up this blog post. If you’re not a confident enough sewer to try these alterations or repairs at home and you live in London, I’m starting a 4 week Mending Club next month in Shepherd’s Bush. Every Wednesday from 3rd June, for 4 weeks we will be tackling a different alteration or repair you can do at home to help revive your wardrobe or ensure those thrifted vintage and charity shop finds fit like a dream. Find out more here. So, let’s get mending:
You might be expecting a post on shortening a mac but since the weather was forecast to be so lovely this week, I decided to repair a summery skirt instead. I’ve had this vintage skirt for a few years now. I bought it at a Carboot sale for £4. It’s a pretty cheap skirt, made of polyester circa 1980s/1990s but I loved the colour, floral print and how floaty it is so I snapped it up. I wear it lots in the warmer months with tees or buttoned-up sleeveless blouses and usually a chunky leather belt. It’s a size 12 and I am a 16 (sometimes an 18) so it is a bit of a squeeze to get over my hips and when I took it out recently, as the weather is getting warmer, I realised the elastic had gone. Over time elastic deteriorates, but luckily, if it’s fed through a channel in the waistband, it can be quite simple to replace, so think twice before throwing it or sending it to a charity shop. It’s a bit trickier to replace an elastic which has been stitched on top at the waist and acts as the waistband and as that technique is much cheaper to mass produce, I’ve noticed many of the high streets creating skirts in this way, which is a shame as it makes it much trickier to repair.
So, to get started: The first thing you need to do is find where the elastic was inserted. The waistband will have a seam, usually in line with one of the skirt ‘s side seams. I made an opening here by unpicking the stitching that runs along the bottom of the elastic just an inch or so either side of the side seam so you have enough room to pull out the old elastic and feed through the new one.
As my skirt was overlocked along the waistband facing (the inside flap of the waistband which lies against the body, it meant the side seam was also overlocked together so I had to snip through the overlocking as well to open this up. The quickest way to unpick overlocking is by snipping along the top set of stitches along the edge (I used some sharp snips.) To stop the rest of the stitching unravelling either side of the opening you have made, make sure you reinforce the stitches by machining on top of the first few stitches either side of the opening, being careful not to catch the elastic.
My waistband was also stitched down the middle with a running stitch (this stops the elastic twisting inside the channel) so I also had to carefully unpick this stitch all the way along. Once you’ve done this, pull out the elastic a little at the opening and snip it (as it’s joined in a circle.) Pull it from one side until it’s completely removed from the waistband.
You’re now left with a channel ready to feed your new elastic into. To make sure you use the correct size elastic, measure the width of the existing elastic and/or the waistband. I was lucky to find a pack of old elastic which was almost the exact width in my vintage sewing supplies stash and it was still good and stretchy. If you choose an elastic too wide it won’t fit through the channel and too narrow it won’t lie flat against the body and roll up like a scrunchie, so try and get as close a match as possible. To find out what length you need, take the elastic and stretch it comfortably around your waist and overlapping it by about 1cm. I made sure I could pull it over my hips comfortably and snipped off the remainder.
Once you’ve done this you’ll need to feed it through the channel of your waistband. Attach a large safety pin to one end and insert it into the opening. Feed it along the channel, using the safety pin to give you something to grab. The channel will gather up so keep flattening it out as you move the safety pin along, until it comes out the other side. Be careful you don’t pull the other end through so make sure you hold onto it as you get near to the end. You should end up with both ends of elastic sticking out of your waistband opening. Do a final check that it’s flat and hasn’t twisted all the way along and you’re ready to attach the two ends together to create a loop.
Pin the two ends flat, matching edge to edge and set your sewing machine to a medium zigzag. The zigzag allows the elastic to give a little when it stretches, whereas a straight stitch would break.
Join the two ends of elastic close to the edge and be sure to back stitch at the beginning and end to strengthen the seam. Once you’re attached, open out the elastic so the seam lays flat (as shown) and stitch down along the seam as before, back stitching at the beginning and end.
You can now pull the elastic taught in your waistband and it should hide up into the skirt (give it a hand if it doesn’t.) It should lay flat inside the waistband and the waistband should have a slight gather. To enclose it you just need to straight stitch along the opening you made in the waistband. Make sure not to stitch into the elastic. I also used a zigzag in place of the overlocking I unpicked, to neat the edge.
To finish, I used a zigzag stitch along the centre of the waistband (starting and finishing at the seam) and lightly stretched out my elastic as evenly as I could as I stitched so it would ping back when the elastic is relaxed and have space to stretch out.
I’m pleased to say, the skirt now fits beautifully and I was able to wear it yesterday in the sunshine. This is the finished freshly inserted elastic. I think it’s actually a better fit than before.
If you tried this technique, please let me know in the comments. It would be great if you shared a photo on instagram, twitter or Facebook. Use the hashtag #MendingMonday and if you’re on instagram tag me @MakeThriftLDN in the photo comments. I haven’t decided which garment I’ll be sharing next week but I’m challenging myself to have it ready to post it on Monday. Any requests? I have a huge pile to work through..
See you soon,