Make It Last: Sustainably and Affordably Preserving What We Love

Make It Last: Sustainably and Affordably Preserving What We Love

by Raleigh Briggs


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Make It Last: Prolonging and Preserving What We Love  bridges the gap between life in a disposable culture and the basic skills needed to save money and live more sustainably. This book teaches you how to extend the lives of the things you love by repairing clothing, preserving home-grown food, and even repairing your kitchen sink. Raleigh Briggs takes her longtime commitment to community building through the DIY movement and shares her valuable experience with the reader through a conversational tone in her hand drawn and illustrated guide.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781934620984
Publisher: Microcosm Publishing
Publication date: 11/01/2012
Series: Good Life Series
Pages: 128
Sales rank: 1,013,615
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 6.70(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Raleigh Briggs is an herbalist, potion maker, DIY homemaker, and the author of How to Make Soap , Make Your Place , and Nontoxic Housecleaning. She lives in Seattle.

Read an Excerpt



Intro 7
In this first chapter, we'll be talking about clothes. Unless you wear seamless, zipperless, indestructible Coveralls (email me if you do!) you've had to deal with the fact that clothes are mortal. We love them, but they fail us in myriad ways. Whether you buy new or used clothing, you have to deal with the seam that busts when you bend over. The zipper that slips down to reveal your underpants to your coworkers. The cute and cheap outfit that turns out to be just ... cheap.

All of these things are annoying, but none of them have to ruin your day. Even if you haven't Sewn so much as a pillowcase, it's worth your time to learn a few basic clothing repairs. You don't have to buy new jeans every time the inner thighs wear out — just patch them up and keep rocking them! You'll save money, save those jeans Prom premature death in Some landfill, and create Something that is, in its Own humble Way, uniquely yours. Your first few projects might look goofy, it's true, but they'll still look better than giant holes in your clothes. So let's get started.


Just a few little things you'll need before you start sewing:


A good multipack of needles can get you through most DIY fixes. You'll need some thin needles (for delicate fabrics) and a few thicker ones for mending denim or canvas.


If you think you don't need a thimble, just try to hem some jeans without crying.


if you're just beginning to sew, the thread section of the fabric store can induce a feeling of "thread panic," a term X just made up. Thread comes in all different thicknesses, colors, and fibers, and it can be hard to know what to pick, for your project.

If you're just doing basic mending and alteration, you should be fine with just a couple of spools. Cotton-wrapped polyester thread will give you the most versatility for your buck. It's strong, heat-resistant, and will work on most fabrics. Get a spool each of white, black, and whatever color is most dominant in your wardrobe.

Seam Ripper

The sharp mandibles of a seam ripper undo stitches gracefully, without tugging. Use the blunt-tip side to loosen a stitch, then flip the ripper over and use the sharp prong to cut the thread.

Measuring Tape + Ruler

The fancy clear rulers are especially nice for sewing. Any tape measure will do as long as it's flexible.

Tailor's Chalk

You can pick up couple hunks of fabric chalk at your favorite craft store. Some of them even come with little brushes that erase the marks when you're done. If chalk's not your thing, you can also find marker that wash out.


These will depend on what Sorts of clothes you like to wear, but a well-stocked notions stash usually contains two- and four-hole buttons, hook & eye sets, zippers, snaps, and patches.


Folks who hand-sew use beeswax, to add strength and glide, to their thread. To do this, hold one end of your thread against the wax, with your finger a couple inches from the thread's tip. Grab the short end of the thread with your other hand and pull the whole length of the thread across the wax. (Most commercial waxes have holders with little guides to keep the thread from slipping off.) Do this a couple times so that the thread is nicely coated.

Next, run over your thread with a warm iron to melt the max into the thread. This might Seem fussy, but the ironing is important — it removes any waxy residue and creates a strong, tangle-free thread with plenty of glide.

Pins & A Pincushion

Buy a tin of straight-pins with the lithe pearls on the ends. Keeping a Couple dozen in a pin-cushion will keep you from having to pull a single pin from a pile of bloodthirsty ones.

Fabric Scissors

A modest but decent - quality pair 's all you need. You needn't spend tons of money, but if you want your scissors ho stay sharp, avoid using them to cut anything other than fabric, Paper, plastic, or cardboard can make the blades too blunt.

Quick Fixes!

Sometimes you absolutely don't have time to sew on a button, and that's okay. Walking around with buttonless pants, however, is probably not okay You can avoid these little mishaps by creating an emergency mending kit, filled with McGyver-y supplies to hold you over until you can do some real mending. Reach for it next time your (totally hypothetical) jeans button pops off post-breakfast burrito and it's making you late for work.

A few things to add to your tit:

* safety pins for popped buttons + "librarian's gaps"

* Fray Check (a liquid plastic that stops fabric from fraying)

* Iron-on hemming tape or double-tided tape

* a few cute pins or pin-on buttons (for strategic stain coverage)

* a mini-stapler, for VERY quick n'dirty hem fixes

Basic Knots + Stitches

Knots! And You need to learn a few of them, but don't be nervous. Hand-sewing does require a bit of motor skill, but mostly it requires you to be patient, or at least to have a good movie to watch while. you're working. The fineness and evenness of your stitches will improve with practice, so jump night in!

If you already sew a bit, feel free to skip ahead. If you're a newbie, here are some basic stitches you should learn.

Starter's Knot

Every seeing project starts with a single Knot, beginning sewers tend to make their Knots really big, hoping this will keep the knot from pulling through the fabric. Sot a big knot can get tangled in your other stitches. It also uses a bunch of thread that can be put to better use elsewhere. Also it looks weird!

So save yourself the trouble and keep your knot simple. Make a slipknot at the end of your thread. Take the needle through the loop and pull the rest of the thread through. Then, pinch the whole shebang between your thumb and forefingers, and slide the knot to the end of the thread until it's tight.

Tying Off

Again, don't waste your time tying tons of Knots to secure your work. To make a Knot that lies flat and doesn't bunch, first bring your thread and needle to the wrong side of the thread. Make a tiny stitch that's perpendicular to your other stitches, pull the thread most of the way through, then take your needle under the thread that's left, full the thread tight-ish and repeat with another stitch. Make sore your thread is secure, then snip the thread to ½ inch.

Straight Stitch

Use it to: join two pieces of fabric, make simple hems; gather fabric

As basic as it gets! Thread your needle, make a knob at one end, and push the needle from the wrong side to the right side of the fabric. Then, use your needle to weave through the fabric in a straight line, creating a few stitches. Try to keep your stitches even. Pull your thread through (try not to bunch the, fabric) and repeat as needed.

Basting Stitch

Use it to: bold your fabric in place while you're sewing – like straight pins, but less pokey A besting stitch is pretty much a long, loose Straight stitch. When you baste, use a thread in a contrasting color so that you can easily find and remove the stitches later.

Blanket Stitch

Use it to make a decorative edging; attach two pieces of fabric along their edges

Thread your needle and take it from wrong to right side through the edge of the garment so that the needle comes out the bottom. Take the needle over the edge of fabric (so it's behind the fabric again) and bring it through again at a point a little ways over and above from where you brought the thread through the first time. Move your needle so that it's inside the loop formed by the stitch you just made, and poll the thread through. If you're right-handed, you'll see that the stitch forms a backwards L. Lefties will see a regular L. Make another stitch by taking your needle over the edge to the back of the fabric, coming through to the front, catching the needle, and pulling through.


Use it to: mend seams; replace uppers

Backstitching gives you a tight, strong line without any gaps, so it's great for decorative stitching, too. A caveat: backstitching looks crappy from the wrong side of the fabric, don't use it on anything that needs to be reversible.

To create a backstitch, start like you're making a straight stitch. Bring your needle up as if you're making a second stitch, but instead of bringing your needle forward along the seam you're making, being the needle back about a half stitch's length and insert your needle through the middle of the stitch to the back of the fabric. Angle your needle forward and bring the tip to the front about a half Stitch's length in front of where you first brought the thread through. Pull the needle and thread through all the way.

Make the next stitch by bringing the point of your needle backwards again and injecting it from front to back at the halfway mark of your first stitch. Again, angle your needle forward and bring the point to the front a half stitch ahead of your last stitch. Pull everything through and Continue like this until you're done.

Overhand stitch/Whipstitch

Use it to: finish an edge; create a buttonhole An overhand stitch is done over the edge of your fabric, rather than parallel to an edge, facing your needle up through the fabric about ¼ inch from the edge, then wrap it around the fabric's edge and back to the wrong side. Bong your needle up again in a spot that's very close to your previous stitch and pull the thread through. This way you'll create a tight row of stitches that "seal" the edge op the fabric in thread.


Use it to: create an invisible hem

A very classy stitch that's great for making hems in delicate or fancy clothes. To make a slipstitch, start by holding your basted hem horizontally. Slip your thread under one or two threads Prom the outer fabric (the pact that's not folded), and then, moving forward a little along the hem, pick up two threads Prom the folded portion of the hem. Head back up to the Outer fabric, create a teeny stitch like before, then repeat with, the inner fabric. Continue making this delicate little zigzag until your hem is complete.

TIP!: Are you having trouble making a straight line? You can use a ruler and tailor's chalk to create a guide before you start sewing.


Excerpted from "Make It Last"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Raleigh Briggs.
Excerpted by permission of Microcosm Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Introduction, 3,
Chapter 1: Clothes, 6,
Chapter 2: Food, 46,
Chapter 3: Home, 88,

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