growing a minimalist wardrobe: make a sewing kit.

October 4, 2016

growing a minimalist wardrobe: make a sewing kit

Way back when in January, I wrote about a New Year’s resolution to get better about mending (and minding) my clothes. I haven’t needed to make any huge repairs since then, but there have been buttons re-sewn, tiny holes mended, stains treated and—acknowledging my own lack of expertise—pants taken to the tailor to be hemmed.

For repairs I can make at home, I’ve always stashed a small supply of sewing notions (to use a favorite word) in an old tin that belonged to my Aunt Ruth. About the size of the plastic boxes of needle and thread and folded paper measure tapes that you can find at drug stores and or fancy hotel bathrooms, the box has stashed a mess of threads and needles since I was in college. When I recently realized I was out of everything except the red thread that’s been untouched since I first put it in there ten years ago (and a small tangle of blue embroidery thread that I can’t remember buying at all), I decided to do a little makeover.growing a minimalist wardrobe: make a sewing kit

In case it inspires a similar project for you, here’s a list of what I put back into my sewing kit:

Tiny scissors: Not a necessity, but super convenient for one-stop sewing. Bonus, these tiny embroidery scissors have such small points that they can function like seam rippers should the task at hand be taking an itchy tag out of a toddler’s sweater (as it’s sometimes been). 

Black, white, and navy thread: These were the three thread colors that seemed most important for repairs made in my personal wardrobe, but choose whatever makes the most sense for you. I bought three large spools and have them stashed in the cloth bag I keep in our linen closet filled with other strings and ribbons, but I wound smaller portions of each around a small tag for keeping in the box. (I’m not an expert, but if you’re after beautiful threads, Gutermann’s have been highly recommended to me.)

Enough needles to last me: At the risk of sounding terribly irresponsible, needles have a way of escaping from me. I restocked what I had with a few additional needles in various sizes. I stick my needles through a small piece of felted wool in my best effort to keep my box tidy. (I got my replacements at a local craft store, but if you don’t already have a place to keep them, this set comes in a handy case.)growing a minimalist wardrobe: make a sewing kit

Nota bene: My only regret is that I went it alone when I made my box. Forgive me my inner Girl Scout, but I have vivid memories of making personal First Aid Kits with my Girl Scout troop in elementary school and this project would be the perfect candidate for something to make with a group of people. If you have it in you, gather a few friends together to put together one of these kits and divvy up the thread and needles between you. growing a minimalist wardrobe: make a sewing kit

Other things: 

+ If you’d rather one-stop shopping, this Rapid Repair Kit has everything you might need in one package.

+ In the spirit of fixing what you already have, Karen Templer of Fringe Supply Co. has been stirring up a lot of great conversation with her Slow Fashion October project. Head over to her site to see what’s up and follow along with the hashtag #SlowFashionOctober.

+ For some of beautiful mending inspiration, check out the work of Katrina Rodabaugh.

+ If you’re into trying your hand at more than just mending, these are some of my favorite places bookmarked for a day when I have a sewing machine to play with:

+ Wiksten

+ Grainline Studio

+ PurlSoho

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  • Reply Jess October 4, 2016 at 10:54 am

    Lovely to see your take on a mending kit! I’m an admirer of your blog & book, and a sewing/knitting/handmade clothes enthusiast, so it’s great to see these thoughtful worlds collide. If you need a little more incentive to dip into the world of garment making, the newly launched TN Textile Mill fabric collection seems right up your alley:
    If you’re not ready to bring a sewing machine into your space, consider taking a class locally — many shops even offer studio rental time by the hour, or you could go the fully handstitched approach with an Alabama Chanin project.
    Ok, enough proselytizing from me 🙂

  • Reply Jessica October 4, 2016 at 12:10 pm

    If you do expand your sewing repertoire, you can’t go wrong with Merchant & Mills’ notions. I have the sewing box and positively love it. Excellent products AND beautiful packaging makes a girl swoon 😉

  • Reply Carmella October 4, 2016 at 12:45 pm

    Love this one, Erin. Another good source for indie patterns is Sew Liberated. Meg has several I’ve got earmarked.

  • Reply shannon October 4, 2016 at 1:30 pm

    Oh I love Purl Soho!! Thanks for linking to them. I made a few tutorials of theirs to give as Christmas presents last year, and they were all hits 🙂

  • Reply Kari.M October 4, 2016 at 2:00 pm

    I just recently downsized my mending kit, after realizing I wasn’t using most of the stuff in there. I bought that gorgeous Merchant & Mills Rapid Repair Kit you linked to and put that, plus several Gutermann spools of thread in the colours that match our clothes, into an old wooden cigar box we have. It’s perfect.

  • Reply Joan October 4, 2016 at 2:12 pm

    A tiny scissors is a necessity . It is so handy to have a kit like this to grab when needed.

  • Reply Sarah October 4, 2016 at 6:06 pm

    My well-loved only Blockshop scarf tore ever so slightly at a work event last night in the zipper of my bag – your mending link is giving me hope for it.

    • Reply Erin Boyle October 4, 2016 at 8:32 pm

      Oh no! Good luck!

  • Reply Jeska October 5, 2016 at 5:20 am

    Perfect little kit! 🙂

  • Reply Geraldine October 9, 2016 at 5:13 pm

    Cannot recomment Merchant & Mills enough, also check their beautifully simple patterns


  • Reply monica b March 19, 2017 at 12:18 am

    This was actually a wonderfully helpful exercise. It was a little microcosm of some of my macro difficulties with moving my life along towards less. I really don’t ever use all of these colors of thread spools I have, and yet I horde them because they’re perfectly good, I may use them one day, etcetera. I edited to the max, per your suggestions, and am left with a lovely little donation for someone whose life can accommodate it.

  • Reply E June 17, 2020 at 5:03 pm

    I love the thread card you made! I would love to make my own. Where did you get these cute little cards with the rivet?

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE June 18, 2020 at 8:03 am

      I’ve had a little collection of these for years; not sure where I got them originally!


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