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A Year of “Re”: Rework from the Mending Pile

The other day, someone asked me if I do alterations. While I managed to keep my horrified expression under control, my verbal response was less measured. I think I mentioned something about “gouging my eyes out.” As you might guess from my reaction to the question, I definitely prefer starting from scratch. But I don’t think a Year of “Re” would be complete without at least one dive into the mending/altering pile. At my home, this is usually the place that garments go until they are hopelessly out of style and can be taken off to the thrift store without guilt. It was in said pile that I found four candidates to go with my word of the month: Rework.

Sleeve Shortening x 4

Not so long ago, I had decided that my T-shirts should have longer sleeves. I’m not talking about full or three-quarter length, but somewhere north of my elbow. I can’t remember the thinking behind this decision, but the four shirts that had landed in the mending pile all had this unfortunate feature. These awkward sleeves were the reason they had been removed from active wardrobe duty. Everything else about them was fine, particularly the gorgeous wool jersey they were made of. I had come across Smartwool deadstock, and used it to make the shirts. Now I couldn’t let a goofy sleeve length take it out of circulation. It was time for some production line reworking.

four T-shirts folded and lying on a felt pressing surface with an iron nearby and in front of a window overlooking a wooded area

To begin, I figured out what sleeve length I like to wear. I had obviously ignored this step when constructing the tees. I determined that about 8 inches from my shoulder point to the hem was comfortable and would get these shirts back in action. One shirt suffered from a too-long-hem as well as the too-long-sleeve, so…

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  1. Betty_Jo_Tatum | | #1

    Such a lovely idea. I have a whole bucket of such garments to dig through...time to decide to keep, mend, or repurpose I think. Thanks for the inspiration.

    1. User avater
      beckyf | | #4


  2. User avater
    ConnieR | | #2

    The "twin needle" photo reveals how luscious your fabric is!
    This year I dove back into sewing. Besides creating new outfits, I've been doing the "rework" too. It's been very satisfying. But only bother with rework if you truly think the item will bring you JOY. Else it's time to pass it on.
    I've loved your articles, Becky! Thank you.

    1. User avater
      beckyf | | #5

      You are so right! Spend the time on things that you really love. Glad you are enjoying the projects. Thanks for following along.

    2. [email protected] | | #7

      Whenever concerned about a slight flaw or of color, my husband’s favorite response is that same galloping horse! I have enjoyed your series, thank you.

  3. mimsy1 | | #3

    I enjoyed this point and particularly the ‘galloping horse’ mention. I do the same thing and thanks to you, I have a name for it. This was a timely article for me as I have ‘a pile’ of fix, re-do’s as well and am rusty after years of doing ‘other’ things. I especially like the tip about using double sided fusible web as many of my shorten/change projects are knit fabrics. Thank you for this post.

    1. User avater
      beckyf | | #6

      I don’t know why I wait so long to get after these projects. I’m always glad when I finish them. Very satisfying. Thanks for checking in!

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