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Simple repairs save clothing

Sometimes it pays to repair things, like this wool sweater that had a torn sleeve.
Sometimes it pays to repair things, like this wool sweater that had a torn sleeve.
Michael Zajakowski, MCT

Just one fatal flaw — a ripped lining, an outdated shoulder pad — can banish once-loved garments to the back of closets, where they languish, left for dead, for years. Sometimes decades.

There's a reason you held onto that special something. And you can rekindle the flame.

It's time to apply the reduce, reuse, recycle mantra to your wardrobe. It might require a few dollars and a few minutes for a few small repairs.

But once that lost treasure returns to your arms, you'll wonder why you waited so long. — Wendy Donahue

Holey sweater

Fixer-upper: A dove-gray merino wool sweater with a jewel-neck and long sleeves. A half-inch hole near the wrist developed — nudged along by my wristwatch band.

Work order: Mend the hole and coax another few years of wear out of this classic sweater.

Contractor: Without A Trace Inc., Chicago.

Materials: A needle — yarn for the repair was pulled from a seam, I was told.

Results: Beautiful. The site of the repair is undetectable to the naked eye.

Price: $40.

Time to repair: A little more than two weeks, sweater season being especially busy.

Repair vs. repurchase: To replace the sweater with a similar model from a department store would have been $80 to $90. — Judy Hevrdejs

Leaky coat lining

Fixer-upper: A lightweight down jacket with soft jersey lining that leaked tiny feathers onto clothing beneath — particularly detrimental for knits and dark colors.

Work order: Need old lining removed and replaced with one less prone to feather leakage.

Contractor: New S.O.S. Cleaners, Chicago.

Materials: Standard nylon cloth for new lining.

Results: No more stray feathers on my sweaters, and the kind folks at S.O.S. put in a slightly thicker lining than average to ensure this, and for extra warmth. They also charged me $30 less than the over-the-phone quote of $80 once they saw the actual work at hand. That's refreshingly straightforward.

Price: $50.

Time to repair: Three business days.

Repair vs. repurchase: The jacket was $298 retail, so the repair saved me about $250! — Fauzia Arain

Torn Ugg boots

Fixer-upper: My Ugg Adirondack boots. This style is designed for snowy, wet conditions — with waterproof leather and a Vibram sole. But the top of the boot is made with the familiar soft sheepskin found on most Uggs. After four years of tugging the boots on without fully unlacing them, the sheepskin had torn on the back of one boot and was wearing thin on the other.

Work order: The boots needed to be patched. I called the Ugg store to see if the company provided any repair services. A salesperson directed me to a local shoe-repair shop that specializes in Uggs and other high-end shoes.

Contractor: Dearborn Shoe Repair, Chicago.

Materials: Soft leather patches, one larger one on the torn boot, a smaller one to reinforce the worn spot on the other.

Results: The boots are fixed, and the patches appear to be sewn on well. Unfortunately, the new-leather color of the patch is darker than the faded-leather color of the boots, so the patches do not blend in. However, the work was done on the back of the boot, on a spot that is typically folded over for a more stylish look. If the boots are unfolded, it's probably because the weather is nasty, and the patches will make the boots look more rugged.

Price: $55.

Time to repair: One week. The boot-repair specialist is on-site and is available for consultations; in the high boot-repair season — once the first slushy puddles appear — expect that his work will be in demand.

Repair vs. repurchase: The boots were a gift in 2005 and retail for about $250. The $55 repair cost will keep me warm and dry — and thus happy — for several more seasons. Well worth the cost. — Lara Weber

Faulty wiring on earrings

Fixer-upper: My favorite vintage earrings. I hadn't worn them in years because the silver plating on the wires had worn away, exposing a metal that irritated my skin.

Work order: Repair. I wanted the wires replaced.

Contractor: Harrison Jewelers Inc., Oak Park, Ill.

Materials: The mystery-metal wires were replaced with sterling silver wires.

Results: They look beautiful.

Price: $24.

Time to repair: If the shop has the parts in stock, two to three days. Otherwise, about a week.

Repair vs. repurchase: They can't be replaced — I forgot where I got them, and I've looked in vain for something similar. I figure I'd have to pay about $60 for anything that would serve the same day-to-evening function, particularly given my need for silver or gold wires. (Most metals irritate my ears.) — Nara Schoenberg

Outdated sport coat

Fixer-upper: A seriously dated men's sport coat with over-padded shoulders.

Work order: The fabric is in great shape, but this 15- or 20-year-old jacket needs to be nipped and tucked into the present, focusing on the shoulders and waist, with the addition of a button to narrow the lapels.

Contractor: Tailor's Touch, Chicago.

Materials: Scissors, needle, thread.

Results: Gone is the embarrassing '80s-era look that relegated this jacket to the back of the closet for years on the slim hope that it could one day be saved.

Price: $120.

Time to repair: One to two weeks.

Repair vs. repurchase: $180, at least. A new sport coat would cost upward of $300, but it probably would not be as distinctive as this Missoni Uomo with its nubby, rough silk fabric shot through with subtle hints of gold, blue and green. — Joe Gray

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.