Sweaters for Cents

by Van in Alabama

Every year I buy my family of five - children, hubby, and me - our sweaters for winter for peanuts. I learned these tricks from my Portuguese/Scottish grandmother. People throw out sweaters for a variety of reasons. Very few of them cannot be made to look like new with a little work. Here's how:

Some folks throw away sweaters because of lost buttons. These are the easiest to fix. I long ago bought fabric button makers in various sizes (these are not expensive). I make buttons out of matching material and sew them on while I watch the tube (the material can come from your own giveaway/ throw away clothes). You can also buy a set of buttons to sew on.

Some sweaters become stretched out looking. You can hand sew the seams on the arms, you can gather in the neck hole and sew it firm, you can sew side seams to take out the stretched look.

Some sweaters have one or two small holes. You can sew these on the inside of the sweater with matching yarn (works best on tweed look).

Some sweaters are stained, soak in mild detergent for a week, then spot scrub the stain. Keep soaking as long as needed. Wool and acrylic eventually release most stubborn stains in the presence of detergent. Our grandma's rarely threw stained garments out. They just soaked and soaked. My grandmother said they would use urine (try ammonia instead) or vinegar for soaking if a stain was very resistant. They might also dye it a darker color. They used to make a natural green dye by boiling leaves in a mixture of water and alcohol, then boiling the pot down to a syrupy green liquid. The chlorophyll will dye anything a dark green. But, you can also purchase synthetic dyes cheaply.

Some sweaters look all pulled and full of fluff pills. Use a piece of rough sandpaper tacked to a board to recondition them. Spray them with water first, then scrub off the pulls and fluff pills with the sand paper. Be careful not to pull too hard. Gentle consistent pressure is all that is needed. Move into finer grained sandpaper for finer sweaters.

Some people throw out sweaters because they shrink. These are the best kind to buy. They are pre-shrunk. You don't need to do a thing as long as they fit.

Some people throw out sweaters due to a thin patch. If the patch is in a good spot, you can add an applique or elbow patches.

We wear the best in designer sweaters (shop frequently to find these at thrifts and garage sales), and pay about $1.50 each.

"My Story" is a regular feature of The Dollar Stretcher. If you have a story that could help save time or money please send it to "My Story" to gary@stretcher.com.

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