Some Saturday mid-way through the second half of last year I found myself in the Salvos in Collingwood. I’ll often have a quick look through the coats on the odd chance of actually finding something nice that also fits me (it seems most male op-shop donators are 5′ tall and 3′ wide), and this day was one of my luckier ones. I spotted a nice grey mid-length coat—just what I was looking for. I tried it on and it seemed to fit nicely! But then I noticed it was actually not all that clean, to the point of it being a little bit gross. I was ready to give it a pass, but Zara confirmed it looked quite good on me and that it should come up nicely after a little dry-cleaning. Plus it was only $15.25. So I bought it.

After getting it home I tried it on again, and that’s when I noticed that the lining in the sleeves was completely gone. As in, it wasn’t there at all. I’m not sure what the previous owner had done with it or why, but the only theory I could come up with was that their arms were too buff to fit into the sleeves, so they removed the lining to make space. I do not suffer from this affliction and was quite sad that my new coat was so damaged.

Zara helpfully pointed out that it wouldn’t be overly difficult to repair and, as luck would have it, we already had some material that would be suitable. So I set about getting Zara to show me how to measure up the sleeves and cut out the pattern.

Quite a few months then passed, then we decided to start this whole making/mending thing and my coat seemed like the perfect project for me to tackle first. I pulled it out and realised I don’t really know anything about tailoring. Luckily I have Zara, who was kind enough to work out how to open up the lining, sew the new sleeve lining on to the original, and then put it all back together again.

I attempted to do as much as I was able, however I hadn’t used a sewing-machine since probably 2001, so Zara did do some of the trickier bits. As simple as I thought it was going to be, it took a considerable amount of brain power for me to keep track of where everything was supposed to be and which way out to sew things. My hand stitching certainly is nothing pretty, but I feel very satisfied with the finished product. To be able to wear something that could very easily been just another piece of landfill is very satisfying, and I feel that I possibly value my clothes that little bit more, which is surely a good thing.

All in all, I can say making relatively simple repairs to high-value clothing is certainly worth it. If you lack the skills yourself, you might be surprised how easy it is to find someone in your friend/family circles who can help, or there a plenty of tailors around who still do repairs and alterations. Definitely worth trying.