Hints to Help You Make Do and Mend

Hints To Help You Make Do and Mend, the artyologist

October is Slow Fashion and Fair Trade month, and although I haven’t taken part until now, I didn’t want to let the month pass without contributing my voice to the discussion going on around the internet. When I originally planned¬†to write this post, I thought that this week’s prompt was “long worn”. Apparently I got my weeks mixed up though, as this week’s prompt is actually “handmade”. Oops. Well, I guess this post will not only be long worn, but long overdue as well. ūüėČ The term “long worn” refers to the clothes that are already in existence, here on our planet, and how we can make the most of them. I thought that this would be a great time to share some of the garment care¬†tips that I have picked up over the years, that will help to increase the longevity of your clothing, as well as including a few tips from the reprinted copy of Make Do and Mend that I purchased last year while in England. (I’d been wanting to get my hands on one for ages!)

Taking care of the clothes that you already own is a great first step to creating a conscious wardrobe, and there are so many simple things you can do to increase the life of your clothing. It is really only in the last 10-20 years that our society has drifted into a more “throwaway” attitude towards what we wear. Mending, altering, maintaining and preserving your clothing is actually a rather “vintage” way of looking at your closet, which is evidenced by the ingenuity of people during the Great Depression, and the rationing years¬†of the Second World War (which is when the pamphlet Make Do and Mend was published). So, without further ado, here are some helpful hints for caring for your clothes, and some excerpts from the book Make Do and Mend. (excerpts are indicated by “italics“)


  • Wearing scarves when you wear a coat keeps the collar off of your neck, to keep it clean longer. Instead of having to continually wash¬†your coat, you can simply wash the scarf instead.
  • Wearing slips, undershirts and underarm shields can help to keep your clothes cleaner for longer. We tend to wash our clothes more than is actually necessary, and constant washing shortens the life of your clothing. By extending the period of time between washes, you can significantly increase the life of your¬†garment. By keeping your skin away from direct contact with garments, especially delicate ones, they don’t soil so quickly. Just make sure to remove the shields before putting away your garments
  • It is best to wear clothes in turn, as a rest does them good. Shoes too are better for not being worn day after day.” This gives them a rest, and a chance to completely dry out. It is also better for your feet, as it prevents them from rubbing too much in one spot etc.
  • “Always change into old things, if you can, in the house, and give the clothes you have just taken off an airing before putting them away.”¬†

Hints to Help You Make Do and Mend, the artyologist, essential tools


  • If you are going to be storing a garment for any length of time, such as off season coats, it is nice to cover them with a garment bag, so they don’t collect dust and dirt while in storage. That way, when it comes time to wear them again, you won’t need to clean them first.
  • Hang delicate garments on padded hangers to protect the shoulders¬†from stretching out of shape. “A hanger that is too narrow will ruin the shape of the shoulder and may even make a hole.”¬†It is also a good practice to store clothing off of hangers, as hanging garments¬†long-term can distort them.
  • “Do up all fastenings before hanging clothes. This helps them to keep their shape. And see that the shoulders are even on the hangers and not falling off one side.”
  • “Put away clothes in the condition in which you will want to wear them when you take them out again. Make quite sure they are absolutely clean; dirt attracts clothes’ moths.” (And who wants to wash clothes first thing when you take them out again?)


  • Deal with stains and spills right away. Taking a few moments to wash out a stain as soon after it happens as possible, is much better than waiting until you do laundry¬†only to find that¬†the stain won’t wash out.
  • If a garment is not dirty enough to need a washing, you can deodorize by using vodka. This is a practice that is still used today in theatre costumes (according to my friend who is an actress). For a garment such as a blazer or a delicate item, which is not easily washed, simply turn the garment inside out, spritz the inside (especially the underarms) with vodka, and then leave¬†until dry. This neutralizes any odours, and keeps your garments smelling fresh without having to constantly wash them. (I suppose you could use rum instead of vodka, but then you might smell like a pirate! ūüôā Don’t worry, the vodka leaves¬†no scent, so you won’t smell like alcohol.)
  • Washing your clothes in a delicate, cold wash, is easier on them than hot water. Also, air drying your clothes, rather than putting them through the dryer, extends their life. This is especially true for knits (such as t-shirts, sweaters, or jeans with Lycra in them.) Dryers are extremely hard on stretch fabrics.
  • It is better to hand wash your sweaters, so they don’t stretch out of shape. Use a gentle soap, rinse, and then lay them flat to dry. By hand washing your knits, you will help to avoid the dreaded¬†pilled sweater! Putting your sweaters through the washing machine, even on a delicate cycle, leads to pilling. Although you can fix (some) pilling, it is easier to just avoid it in the first place.

Hints to Help You Make Do and Mend, the artyologist, tools for mending


  • Fix places where seams or hems have come undone, or buttons are loose. It is so much easier to fix right away, than waiting until¬†it turns into a much bigger problem. “Watch for thin places, especially in the elbows of dresses, seams of trousers, heels of socks and stockings. Reinforce a thin spot with a light patch on the inside. Choose material that is strong but rather lighter in weight than the original material. Scraps of net darned lightly inside thin heels of stockings make an excellent repair. If you have to patch or darn and have no matching material or thread, sacrifice a collar, belt or pocket if it is merely ornamental, or unravel a thread from the seam. You could unravel the pocket of a knitted garment to provide thread for a darn, and a patch made from a matching belt may save a frock from the bits and pieces bag. You can replace the belt with one of contrasting colour.”
  • “Always carry a needle and cotton and mending silk with you- this will¬†save many¬†a ladder in stockings or prevent the loss of buttons; your friends will thank you too. How many times have you heard someone say, “Has anyone got a needle and cotton?”
  • Take care of the pills on your knits with a sweater shaver. Nothing looks nastier, and cheaper, than a pilled sweater! It is amazing what a shaver can do for making things look fresh. One of the winter coats I got from a coworker came to me in terrible condition (it looked as though she had thrown it through the wash) and I wasn’t sure if it could be saved, but I used a sweater comb, and now the wool looks brand new!
  • Keeping your leather shoes and purses polished, and hydrated with a conditioner of some sort, will keep them from cracking and drying out. Also, they just look nicer. And, of course, if your shoes are past the point where you can do anything with them, take them to the cobbler. Those people work magic! I have had many a pair that I thought were gonners, and they have brought them back to life.

So, there are my tips and tricks for keeping your wardrobe spic-and-span! Would you like to hear more tips from the Make Do and Mend pamphlet? And do you have any garment care tips of your own? Do share!

How to Create a Modern 1920’s Makeup Look

Lipstick:  Mary Kay, True Dimensions (I was not happy with this product either, and have since returned the lipstick.)
One other note: I was not sponsored in any way for the making of this post (although that would have been nice!) These are all products I have purchased myself, and use daily ūüôā Except for the ones that I didn’t like. ūüôĀ -Nicole

Helping the Cangiano’s

help the cangiano's

Sometimes you just hear things that make your heart hurt.

This past Saturday, I heard the terrible news that one of my friends, Jessica (of the blog Chronically Vintage, whom I have guest posted for before) lost her home and all of it’s contents in¬†a fire last Thursday. They were only able to get out with a purse, their phones, the clothes on their backs, and their dog (sadly, their cat perished in the fire). I can’t even imagine the hurt that they must be feeling now. Even though we can tell ourselves, “It’s just stuff”, in reality it is so much more than “just stuff”. It is a lifetime that you have been building, and has suddenly been taken away from you. I know that it will be tremendously difficult time for them, as they face rebuilding their lives.

I know that many of my fellow vintage readers will have heard of the news already, but in case you haven’t, I wanted to let all of my readers¬†know so we can keep the Cangiano’s in our prayers, and in our thoughts. There is a facebook page, and a youcaring page set up, in the event that you would like to help¬†them in some way too. Let’s help the Cangiano’s rebuild!

Favourite Internet Finds Friday (How’s That for Alliteration?)

Favourite Internet Finds Friday, the artyologist

For your reading pleasure. . .

As much as I love the past, I would definitely not want to live in any era other than this one. For many reasons, but I would say the main reason is the internet. I could not live without the internet. Well, OK I guess I could. . . but I wouldn’t want to! I love seeing what other people are writing about on the internet, so I thought I would share some of my favourite internet finds¬†I’ve read lately! I hope you enjoy!

  • This article from a while back made me sad, as it details how little has actually been done to improve worker safety in Bangladesh after the 2013 factory collapse, but it has renewed my commitment to doing my part and not slacking in my commitment to fair trade fashion!
  • On that note, this article by the same blog, has some good tips on how to start shopping consciously. Little steps is the key to making it manageable.
  • Emileigh from Flashback Summer has been sharing some excerpts of an interview with Christian Dior in a vintage¬†issue of “Women’s Home Companion”. The articles are an excellent peek into the fashion of the era, and also offer invaluable advice about dressing for short ladies, large¬†ladies, tall ladies and dressing within your budget. She has a couple more posts planned in the next weeks, as it is a six part series. I can’t wait to read the rest of them!
  • Did you know that it is Fair Trade Month, and Slow Fashion October? I must have been living under a rock, as I didn’t know that, until it was already October. . . and really, this sort of thing is right up my alley! Anyways, I found out about it now, and while I still haven’t participated (yet!), it is so encouraging to see so many other people thinking about slow fashion, and how to make it a part of their lives. I’ll probably get around to posting something on instagram one of these days too . . . Are you participating in the official “Slow Fashion” event?
  • These lovely outfits by fellow bloggers, Jessica of Chronically Vintage, Devinne of Mox and Socks, and Nora of Nora Finds are really putting me in the mood for Fall. Which is good, considering that it is Fall. And in fact, now that we have snow here, in good ol’ Alberta. I should be dressing for Winter I guess, rather than Fall. Time for the wool coats. . .
  • I have been listening to the¬†soundtrack of “Far from the Madding Crowd” on repeat since sometime in. . . July? (Whenever it was that I watched the movie). It seriously never gets old. If you go and listen to it, you will have it on repeat too. . . don’t say I didn’t warn you!

So, have you found any good reads lately? And, could you easily live without the internet? Or is it a mainstay in your day to day life?

The Dress That Didn’t Get Away

The Dress That Didn't Get Away- The Artyologist, 1920's style gingham dress

Do you ever get rid of things and then later regret it? (Do I ever ask redundant questions?)¬†Ok, seriously, I am sure that 99.9% of the population has at some point in their life gotten rid of something and then regretted it afterwards. I personally have done this so many times in my life that I have lost count. My family can attest to this, as I am a menace when I get into a cleaning and de-cluttering frenzy! Cleaning and de-cluttering is great for my well being at the time, but a little while later, (sometimes as quickly as the minute I drop it off at the thrift store) I start to think about those things I parted with a little too hastily. Perhaps this is a clue into how attached I am to my things (which is not a good thing). The best article¬†I ever read¬†on Apartment Therapy talked about the concept of an “outbox”. Have you heard of it before? The concept is that you can place anything¬†in the outbox while its¬†“fate is being decided”. Once you have left it in the outbox for at least one week you can either decide to: take the item back out and keep it, leave it in for another week if you are undecided, or simply get rid of it. This was a huge help to me, as I can then think about the results of my¬†organizing¬†before I commit to them¬†permanently.

The Dress That Didn't Get Away- the artyologist, 1920's style gingham dress

This gingham dress was a very fortunate result of not getting rid of something. I picked this dress up at a second hand shop a few years ago. It is from the 1970’s (I think), as the style is slightly reminiscent of that era, and the fabric is a poly/cotton blend (as gingham’s usually are. To this I ask- why? Why are all gingham fabrics poly/cotton??? But I digress. . . ) However, even though this dress is not very old, it masquerades wonderfully as the 1920’s! The 1920’s is not an era I find myself gravitating to very often, as I just don’t have the figure for the drop waist style. (Though I absolutely love the fashions from the era, and have mentioned several times before¬†how much I want to bring more of the 1920’s into my wardrobe!) This dress is the perfect solution because, even though it has a drop waist, it also has a tie belt, which brings the silhouette in just enough to be flattering, while¬†remaining¬†very 1920’s in style. I also love the fact that it is a large gingham, as you can never go wrong with gingham in my book! The simple, pleated style of the dress, and the casual fabric really makes me think that this is the sort of thing¬†that a sportswoman of the 20’s would wear, paired with some thick stockings and a knitted vest (jumper if you are in the UK), to go play golf.

So, why did I (attempt) to get rid of this dress when it is practically perfect in every way? Well, here¬†is the strangest¬†thing- it got a black grease stain right on the front, in one of the white squares, that¬†was very noticeable. I wore it a lot to my old job in a flooring store, where I didn’t mind if it got damaged more than it already was, but after a while I just got tired of wearing a dress with such a noticeable stain. So, I decided to take it out of my closet. However, I didn’t get rid of it completely, but packed it in with my costumes, as it is such a perfect 1920’s style dress. I had kind of forgotten about it, but then a couple of¬†weeks ago, decided to go and dig it out, as I kind of missed it, and I thought I could just overlook the stain. As I started pressing the pleats back into shape I searched . . . and searched . . . and searched, but I could not find the stain. It actually faded and disappeared over the span of the last year! I did finally find a small, pale mark, where the original stain was, but you can barely make it out even if you look for it.

So there. That was a happy story for you, on why you should not always get rid of things, but instead pack them away for a year, and then take them out again and love them all over again!

Outfit Details:

Gingham dress: Thrifted Vintage

Shoes: Earthies, from a few years ago

Cardigan: Kersch

Scarf: Thrifted

Ring: Bauxo

Earrings: Vintage, from my Mom

Purse:¬†Can’t remember!

Cloche Hat: Andre Canadian Hat

The Dress That Didn't Get Away- The Artyologist, 1920's gingham and cloche hat

The Dress That Didn't Get Away- the artyologist

As my sister and I were taking these photos, a flock of cranes flew overhead!

The Dress That Didn't Get Away- the artyologist, 1920's gingham

The Dress That Didn't Get Away- the artyologist, gingham dress 1920's style

The gingham Dress That Didn't Get Away- the artyologist, vintage modern mix

The Dress That Didn't Get Away- the artyologist

These earrings, from my mom, are the craziest. If you look closely, you’ll see that one earring is the¬†cutout, and the other is the area around it, so they are artfully mismatched!

The Dress That Didn't Get Away- the artyologist, oxford shoes

The Dress That Didn't Get Away- the artyologist, 1920's style cloche

The Gingham Dress That Didn't Get Away- the artyologist