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Arthur Prelle Wardrobe MalfunctionsPicture this: you’re out of town, on vacation, getting dressed for a nice dinner. While buttoning up your shirt, you look down and realize that one of the buttons has fallen off. What to do? Luckily, wardrobe issues like this are easily fixable, even if you’re not skilled at sewing or repair.

Be prepared

If you’re traveling, especially for an extended period of time, I strongly recommend carrying a sewing kit. Such kits are widely available. You can find them at craft stores, supermarkets, or superstores like Walmart. They’re often small enough to slip into a pocket, so it’s no hassle to pack one.

Although it varies widely, sewing kits usually contain some small spools of thread, a couple needles and maybe some pins, and miniature sewing scissors. Sometimes they also contain things such as velcro or elastic. I’ve never had a need for velcro or elastic on the road (although I suppose that could vary depending on what you’re packing) but I do like to add a handful of buttons. Most of my shirts have similar, if not identical, buttons, so if I lose one I can look to my sewing kit for a reasonable substitute.

Threading a needle

This is the easiest sewing repair you can do. First, thread the needle. Cut the thread and push one end of the thread through the hole at the thicker end of the needle. It may take a few tries, but if you’re really struggling, sometimes it helps to trim the end of the thread, or wet it slightly to make it stiffer. Once you’ve gotten it through, tie the two ends of the thread together, forming a loop.

Sewing a button

Find the exact spot where the button on your shirt had been attached. Usually there are a few telltale wisps of thread to give the location away. Otherwise, button your shirt and use the location of the empty button hole to figure it out. Match the button up to this spot and begin sewing from the inside of the shirt, so that the needle goes first through the fabric and then through one of the eyes of the button.

Once the thread is pulled about halfway through, thread the needle back through another buttonhole and secure the thread by putting the needle through the loop. Pull taut. Continue sewing until the button is firmly attached. Then, tie the thread as well as you can and cut off the loose ends.

Repairing a hole

There are two types of hole repair you might have to do. Small rips can be fixed simply by sewing them closed. Thread the needle and secure the thread in the same way you did while sewing on the button. Then, carefully stitch the fabric on either side of the rip together.

With larger holes, you may have to patch them. You can purchase iron-on repair patches at your nearest craft store. Most hotel rooms have an iron you can use for this purpose.