Pioneer times were tough, and we would never suggest life without modern plumbing, refrigeration, or electricity! But with the fast pace of modern life, some folks have decided to learn skills from bygone eras. This includes purchasing local products made closer to home with more care and quality materials, unhooking from technology, and embracing homesteading. In our Pioneer Life in the 21st Century series, we’ll help you embrace a few pioneer-like actions, create mindful moments, and perhaps save a few bucks, whether you live in an apartment in the city or a planned community in the suburbs.
We know well that the Pioneer Days didn’t consist of strip malls offering dirt cheap Clothing to encourage multiple outfits throughout the work week.
Unless you were from a wealthy family, most folks had one outfit they wore day in and day out, alongside a nicer outfit for church on Sunday. That is, if you could afford an extra set of nice threads.
In a time when clothing is cheaply made and tossed out with the garbage at the first sign of a Hole, we want to preserve our favorite closet pieces, and reduce our need to consume more clothing when it’s not necessary.
In the spirit of the Pioneers, we look to preserve our denim jeans, repair holes in our favorite skirts and shirts, and by doing so, add a little character along the way. Check out these tips for how to preserve clothing and make your closet last longer.
Revive Items with Dyeing
Cotton canvas sun hats, and faded jeans and cotton shirts, can be brought back to their original vibrancy by dyeing them. Before dyeing an old favorite piece of clothing, you need to make sure they are made from real pure fibers. Only cotton, hemp, linen, silk or wool will dye with excellent results.
There are synthetic and natural dyes on the market, and if you have access to an indigo vat, opt for that. The longevity in the quality of the dye will keep your garments beautifully blue for a long time, and revive old faded denim jeans especially.
Synthetic dyes can be splashed, dipped, or tie-dyed on for a funky effect.
There are a ton of ways you can patch a hole in your clothing while simultaneously adding a bit of character along the way. Consider purchasing an embroidered patch to cover a hole in the knee of your pants. They are especially cute on children’s clothing.
Another way to patch a hole is to get a piece of cotton, cut it much larger than your hole, and then using an iron, fold over the edges and create a temporary hem. Then you’ll want to get a needle and embroidery thread, and pin your patch to the back side of the hole in your garment. By turning your pants or shirt inside out, this will make it easier.
First hand stitch the outer edge of your patch onto your clothing. Then using small stitches, go across the patch with your stitches lining up close to one another. You can make an added creative addition by making little crosses with your stitches and making a stitch perpendicular to the original stitch. This method of mending is called “boro stitching” in Japan, and is practical with a great aesthetic.
Stained clothing is often a reason it heads straight to the garbage or donation pile. Try to revitalize your clothing, and use a little bit of extra elbow grease to make your clothes look new again.
Scrub underarm Stains with a mixture of equal parts lemon juice and water. You can also get rid of sweat stains on shirts by placing them into a saltwater soak. Pour 1/2 cup of salt into a large basin and add enough cold water to cover your clothes. Let them soak for two hours. Wash normally.
For blood stains, soak the item in a mixture of one quart of cold water and two tablespoons of salt before washing. You can also use a toothbrush to give it an extra firm scrub with the salt mix. Ice will also help to release the blood stains. Place item into a sink full of ice and cold water and allow to soak.
For oil stains rub white chalk on it as soon as you’re able, and wash regularly. Avoid putting the item into the dryer as it will just bake the oil stain if it remains.
Tailor Clothing that You Love
If you’ve lost weight, and your clothes don’t fit you as they used to, congratulations! But it doesn’t mean you need to toss your favorite pieces out.
If you’re an avid sewer, then you likely have the confidence to take in a few seams here and there to make your items of clothing fit better. If you’re not a sewer, then find a local tailor to help you take your items in.
You can often find tailoring services at your nearest dry cleaner. For just a few bucks, they can take in your measurements and make your clothing fit perfectly. Often times when our shirts, dresses and pants are correctly tailored, its more flattering on the figure.
What are your best practices for preserving those favorite items of clothing in your closet? Share with us and our readers!