That is sew green (Day 270)…

sewing machine

I really don’t know the first thing about sewing, but the further I go into this green challenge, the more I’m realizing its importance as a skill, not just a hobby. If I buy a coat from a vintage store and it’s missing a button, I need to know how to sew one on; if I cut up an old bed sheet to make some extra hankies, it helps if I can sew up the sides to prevent fraying; and if a sock starts to get a hole in the heel, I’d like to at least try to darn the thing before using it as a cleaning rag.

I already have a little mending kit and can thread a needle, as well as sew a fairly straight line in either a backstitch or a running stitch. I don’t know how to use a proper machine yet, but I think I’ll stick with whatever I can do by hand in the name of conserving electricity.

So, does anyone out there have any tips or advice? Any online guides that might help me learn the basics? And are buttons as complicated as they look, because I’ve got a few on my coat that are dangling by a thread (quite literally) and might drop off any second.

Photo courtesy of Julie K in Taiwan on Flickr

18 Responses to That is sew green (Day 270)…

  1. dahlia says:

    sewing on a button by hand is pleasing and simple when you know a few tricks! i’m sure someone else will point you to a great online guide. what i have to offer is encouragement. off now to try to repair my favorite long underwear instead of buying new ones. yay!

  2. designonpost says:

    I love to sew. I grew up around it all my life, my mother was a professional seamstress when I was young. I didn’t learn until I had a daughter of my own. There are a number of books on refashioning thrift shop finds and stuff you already have. Check them out from your library. My machine is a Brother that my mother bought me for my 30th birthday from It’s a base model but at this point it’s all I need.

  3. Teartaye says:

    Been reading for a while, and I’m enjoying this immensely!

    Button tutorial:
    I know you’re not supposed to be on the computer for very long everyday, but the entire account is a gold mine for this kind of stuff.. They put out shows (I think they’re weekly, not sure) on various DIY clothing techniques, mostly sewing with lots of “make that old t-shirt into something new and cool” type of ideas. Plus most of the shows are clearly labeled (make a hoodie! Learn to crochet!) and have “quickies” like the button one above.

  4. xandara says:

    The biggest lightbulb moment for me, learning how to sew on a button, was to put a thicker needle between the button and the fabric you’re sewing it to, and sew around that. Otherwise you’ll sew the button straight onto the fabric and it’ll have no give for the fabric it needs to slip onto… if that makes sense! 🙂

  5. Hellcat13 says:

    I’ll tell you what I do:

    Pile everything that needs to be sewed into a corner.
    Throw it in a bag.
    Bring it to your mom’s and beg her to do it.

    Yeah, I’ll admit it…I’m all thumbs. I need a blood transfusion just to sew on a button. It’s safer to ask my mom 🙂

  6. Hellcat13 says:


  7. DIane says:

    Here is a good site to learn to darn socks.. lots of close up photos.. Buttons are easy.. up through one hold and back down through the other.. it just takes a little practice. .. be brave.. give it a try.. you can always cut the thread and start over again!

  8. Rachel says:

    You can find a huge amount of how-to sewing books at thrift stores!

  9. Elka says:

    I grew up sewing as well, but a lot of my friends have picked it up very quickly. It just requires a little bit of logic and taking your time! You can find a good sewing machine on Craigslist for under $100. Go to a community class to learn the basics. I am constantly inspired by Amy Butler and Lotta Jansdotter, and their books are very easy to understand and full of gorgeous patterns.

  10. Victoria says: is a really good site for sewing basics and modifying existing clothes (a green option instead of getting rid of things and getting new ones!)

  11. SP says:

    Come over some afternoon and I will show you how its done. Man you city kids.

  12. I know this post is old, but I thought I’d add my two cents. If you are replacing buttons, first make sure to buy buttons that are about the same size as the originals so that the scale will look right on the garment and that will fit into and hold in the holes that were created without slipping out. is a great resource for finding out how to sew or repair most types of clothing and other hand crafts. Just go to their “how to sew” section; you can always post a specific question…like how can I darn socks? and get feedback from people in the know. If you are willing to invest in a sewing machine, look for a sturdy metal one and have it checked out by a sewing machine repair shop to get back into good working order. I’ve had new, easily portable ones with fancy stitches, but time and again I go back to my old black simple-stitch $20 estate sale Necchi and White machines built in the 1950’s to last a lifetime.

  13. I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Keep up the good work. Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

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