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Repairing It

Repairing a Blue Jeans Fly – Part 2: The Zombie Attack Version

So, let’s say that you are holed up in an abandoned farm house and the zombies are attacking and the zipper on your fly breaks. Now, Aunt Toby realizes that perhaps at this moment you are not worrying about your pants falling down while a zombie eats your brains, but you never know. Here’s a way to repair that fly, keep your pants up so that you can pay proper attention to the zombies and perhaps get a few damaging licks in before they overwhelm you. I mean, Shaun would have made sure his fly was all fastened up..Right? (more…)

Replacing a zipper on blue jeans – Part 1

Aunt Toby’s repair basket probably has at least as many pairs of blue jeans that do NOT have rips or tears in them as she does the other sort. They are there because of ‘zipper failure’. Do not ask me why this happens – these zips started out life as vigorous metal zippers but many times lose the pull or the top stop or something and then the only thing holding the owner in is a hardy sense of decorum and the top button. And perhaps some safety pins. It’s really quite annoying because most of the time the zip fails before anything else fails and because we all see replacing a zip in an already finished garment as being too much work, the jeans end up in the repair basket or thrown away.

Very sad. (more…)

Saving the Least Worst – Blue Jeans, That Is

Around here, there are ‘nice’ blue jeans and ‘work pants’, which actually many times started out as ‘nice’ but through ‘life as it is lived’ here, achieve ‘work pants’ status. Once they’ve ‘arrived’ as work pants, it’s every man for himself, pants-wise (for my readers from the UK, I realize that ‘pants’ in your world refer to what we consider underwear, but just go with me here), and they accumulate stains, paint, worn spots and rips. As every mother of 7 year old boys knows, rips can appear in brand new jeans (especially if you live where there are fences, barbed wire, ends of nails and staples sticking out of walls, etc. ) but most of the time, they get worn in certain places (and actually in places that you’d never expect, too) and then it’s only a matter of time before the weak places separate and rip and there you are. (more…)

Relining a coat – Part 3

coatlining3I’m sorry it took me so long to get back to this but several readers have reminded me that I owe everyone the completion on this. So, back to basics.
1) You’ve got lining, scissors, pins, a measuring tape and something long with a straight edge – yard stick, that sort of thing.
2) You’ve measured the length of the coat and the width of the coat. Lay the coat down on the floor or a big table. (more…)


lockSo, here I am, all full of myself because I have this brand new coat that I made ‘awwww by myself’ (don’t wanna be…all by…). A dog with two tails and all that.

And we’re in a rush to leave and I run out the door and twist around because I realize I have not done the little locking button thingy. And I turn around to shut the door and…. (more…)

Not a Sweater

I know some of Aunt Toby’s readers are looking at the title and saying to themselves, “She’s hitting the sauce because that is TOO a sweater.”

And you are right – that is a sweater, but your dear Aunty does not want you to think of it that way. I want you to think of it as knit material that currently is in the form of three tubes: two sleeves and a body. Because we all (me included) look at finished clothing and unless we are aficionados of certain internet programs such as Threadbangers or some of the sewing blogs, we just see what it is..not see it as potentially something else.

Now, many of us grew up in families where grannies and moms would make over clothing for younger siblings (more…)

Cheap and Good: No Excuses Weightlifting

Today, Aunt Toby wants you to think of our little meeting place here as Kitchen Counter Gymnasium. We’re going to talk today about getting more strength into our lives … at home.

So, you say you don’t have the money for a gym membership. Okay – Aunt Toby is good with that.
And you say you have never lifted weights and are just a little bit scared of hurting yourself. Yep – I’m with you there too. And you say that it’s not something you worry about really.

Just hold it right there, bucko. (more…)

Relining a Coat: Part 2

measure liningSo, you’ve got your coat that needs a new lining and you have some pins, a needle, some lining fabric and thread to match and a pair of scissors. What now?

Well, now we take some measurements and make some decisions.

See the coat above with the measuring tape on it – you need to measure the width of the lining of the coat you are working with as it is now. As you see from the photo above, you will only be measuring the lining itself, not the facings, which is the green and white printed fabric between the lining and the outer edge. In this case, the lining width is 43”.

Here is the way you figure out how to deal with your fabric:
Lining width: 43”
Turn-over at each edge: 1” ea. Edge = 2”
Pleat in the center of the back of the lining = 2”
Total = 47”

What this means is that if you got 45” wide lining fabric, you will not have enough fabric to go across the whole body of the coat unless you hit a seam someplace. Some people seam in the center, under the pleat. I do this a little bit more ‘commando’ style and start at one side seam and go as far as I can so that I don’t end up with a lot of waste. (more…)

Replacing the Lining in Your Coat – Step 1

coat lining 1One of the things that I really hate in terms of manufactured clothing, esp the stuff that you absolutely have to buy and that usually costs the earth, relatively speaking, is that the inputs are usually so cheap. I don’t necessarily mean “cheap” as in “doesn’t cost very much,” though that is usually the case. I mean “cheap” as in “poorly made and won’t last a very long time.”

My biggest bugaboo on this is: the linings in coats. I hate the quality of these, which ranges from “poor” (and are usually made out of polyester satin) to “falls apart when you get it out of the store” (which is usually made of this sleazy acetate and might be satin faced…or not). (more…)

From the Ground Up: Shoes


There are many things about being female that are just plain unfair. Women’s clothing many times does not come with pockets or the pockets are small and useless (and yes I know many women refuse to un-sew the openings because ‘it ruins the line’). Women’s shoes many times are built along the philosophical lines of Chinese footbinding. But my major beef (or bone to pick depending) has to do with simple shoe quality. No matter how expensive women’s shoes are, unless you are getting something like orthopedic shoes from your podiatrist (and those can be absolutely costly and we won’t discuss the fashion factor), or perhaps something like the penny loafers still handsewn by Sebago, you are getting a shoe that is held together with glue.

Ah, but you say, “Aunt Toby, I don’t care about that – they just talked to me…and asked me to buy them and take them home and love them…”

And Aunt Toby’s answer to that one is: “Poppycock – if you want to truly save money on clothing and shoes, you have to buy things that you can wear for a long time , can maintain and can get repaired if need be.” (more…)

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