Rock the repair

Repairing has taken over my practice of late.  It’s also taken over my town.  A bicycle repair station has sprouted up next to the bike racks at work.  The Boulder Public Library is wrapping up an exhibit, “The Art of Repair,” that includes a rack of tools to take things apart, and another to put things together.  You can fix something yourself on the spot.  Or pick up one of the donated garments and repair or upcycle it for a stranger.  Best of all, the library’s maker space hosted an amazing variety of workshops for fixing everything from furniture to denim to broken china.

I went to the Sewing Rebellion workshop last weekend and loved the friendly helpfulness of all the makers, and the variety of projects they’d brought in to repair: a perfect but worn pair of jeans, a daughter’s new but already unraveling blanket, a biker’s leather jacket, a brightly-colored windbreaker. Participants were a nice mix of old and young, male and female, and all over the style spectrum.

I’d brought in a couple of my husband’s ancient t-shirts, full of holes along the shoulders and seams and originally destined for the rag bag.  I signed my maker space waiver, found an open table, and set to.

nightshirt made from two oversized men's tees

I used Melissa Mora’s 2011 tutorial on resizing a too-large shirt to cut one of the tees to size.  That got rid of a lot of holes as well.  Then I chopped a bit off the bottom of the tee so that I wound up with a bodice piece with a slightly dropped waist.  I shook out the second tee and sliced it just below the arms, giving me a tubular piece of fabric a bit larger than the first tee.  I pinned it to the waist of the bodice and zipped everything together with a zig-zag stitch.  Lastly I cut the neck out to be more flattering and to eliminate another crop of holes, and bound the neckline with a thick strip of fabric left over from trimming the first shirt.  Presto!  I had a new nightshirt.

While this isn’t a polished make, it’s a proof of concept that I can convert worn or unloved tees into something useful and comfy.

Another quick win was a plastic toolbox that had come around some kind of equipment at work.  As so often happens, the cheap case was tossed as soon as the equipment arrived.  It was an ugly little thing.  But a new outfit gave it a whole new attitude.

I traced the inset panel on the front to get a pattern, traced it onto some cherished Japanese paper, and went to town with Mod Podge.

Now I have a handy little toolkit or work box that I like to look at.

It’s been nice to breathe some new life into discards.  What have you been repairing lately?  Clothes?  Lamps?  Hearts?  Please share how you’ve been rebelling against entropy.


2 thoughts on “Rock the repair

  1. Love how you’re rocking the remakes. I’ll ask my daughter if she still has the t-shirt dress she made that I told you about.


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