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Get it done / Expert advice on DIY clothing repair

Projects to try at home

Lena Galletti

Photo by kc kratt


Tackling that pile of clothing in need of repairs can be daunting, especially if you’ve never tried it before. The ability to sew, mend, and alter your clothing is a valuable skill, one that Lena Galletti, owner of Alterations by Lena in Williamsville, learned as a child in Italy. When she was growing up she said premade clothes just didn’t exist.


“For people who want to learn to sew, they just need to keep trying and learn as they go,” says Galletti. “Once you get stuck and can’t go further, you should ask for help because you don’t want to ruin your clothes. Sewing a button is a good place to start.”


Here are some clothing repair projects to try at home, with some expert advice to get you started:


Sewing a button: Thread your needle and cut the thread. Tie a knot at the end of the thread and cut off excess thread. When sewing a four-hole button, start on the interior of the fabric, push your needle up and down through the first pair of holes in the button three times. Repeat on the other set of holes. On your next repetition, pull the thread up but not through a hole; instead, wrap the thread between the button and the fabric a few times. Pull tight and then needle to the underside of the fabric so you can tie a knot. Form a loop and pull the thread through. Cut off excess thread.


Fixing a zipper: “So many times people come in thinking that they need a new zipper, when sometimes the slide just gets loose and it doesn’t need to be replaced at all,” says Galletti.


If the slide of your zipper is loose and the teeth won’t close, first make sure there is no thread stuck in the zipper, and then inspect the teeth. If any are sticking out, take a pair of pliers and squeeze the teeth back into place so they are all straight. Sometimes squeezing in both sides a little bit, so the zipper can follow the tracks, also does the trick.


Mending jeans: Sometimes the crotch of jeans or pants will rip due to legs rubbing together when walking. “Usually you close in the hole and reinforce it from the inside of your pants to make the repair stronger, especially for nice materials,” says Galletti.


If the tear isn’t too big, the repair can be done by hand. Cut frayed thread away from the area. Thread your needle and tie a knot. For extra measure, you can sew around the edge of the hole to prevent more fraying (a blanket stitch is recommended). Take your fabric on both sides of the hole and press or hold it until it’s nearly shut. Sew vertically to seal the hole with about a half-inch between stitches, and, as you get to the other side of the hole, reduce the size of your stitches. Pull the thread, tie it off, and snip loose thread.


Alterations by Lena
913 Main Street
Williamsville, NY 14221


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