Sunday, May 13, 2018

Household Hacks: Summer wardrobe edition

Summer is icumen in, it would appear. In the past week or so, we've had a couple of days that got up close to 90 degrees, and I started pulling some of my summer garments out of storage. Unfortunately, in the process, I discovered that a couple of them were worn out, which threw me face to face with that age-old ecofrugal dilemma: repair or replace?

The first problem popped up on the first day I ventured out in sandals. My current summertime solution to the shoe conundrum is a pair of sturdy Columbia sandals in a "big kids" size 5. Because boys' and girls' shoes are both the same size and width, this shoe fits just fine on my wider foot; it's a bit long, perhaps, but the adjustable straps allow me to keep it snug. And as a bonus, kids' shoes are usually a bit cheaper than those designed for adults, so I was able to pick these up for only $30 or so at Famous Footwear.

After being worn nearly every day for the better part of two summers, the soles of these sandals were seriously worn down. In the middle of the ball of the foot, especially, there was a spot where the rubber was nearly worn through. I'd noticed last summer that they were starting to wear and tried to patch them with Sugru (the stuff we used to repair our old toilet brush), but it didn't stay put. So when I first put them on this summer and found I could nearly feel the pavement through them, I thought they were probably done for. Given that I'd worn them regularly through two summers, you could hardly say I hadn't gotten my money's worth out of them, but I was still disgruntled at the thought of having to shop for a new pair. I'd originally bought these at Famous Footwear, but the selection there is ever-changing, and I couldn't be sure of finding them.

So I decided to have one more go at patching them, this time using a product that's more or less designed for the purpose: Shoe Goo. Unfortunately, I didn't think to take a "before" picture of them, but even in this "after" picture of the repair job, you can see the wavy texture of the worn patches. What's not clear from the picture is how well they'll hold up. I've used Shoe Goo on worn shoes before and managed to get another couple of months of wear that way, but it eventually gets dirty and peels off. So it's not clear whether this fix will be enough to keep this pair of shoes going through the summer, but at least it will save me from having to hunt for new ones in a hurry.

I also ran into difficulties the first really warm night of the year, when I switched to my summer sleeping attire—an old tank top and a pair of men's boxers. I've had these for a few years now, and the waistband elastic, as you can see here, is almost completely kaput.

What I'd normally do in this situation is add a drawstring, as I did with these shorts three years ago. However, the way this waistband is designed makes that technique impractical. It's all one solid piece of elastic, so there's nothing to slip the drawstring through.

Now, these are actually cheap enough that buying a new pair would be no big deal. But the idea of tossing out the old ones just irked me. The fabric was all still perfectly good; it was only the elastic that was worn. It seemed like throwing them away just for that would be a blot on my ecofrugal escutcheon.

So I did a little experimenting and eventually found that if I could just wrap them a little tighter in the front and secure them somehow, I should be able to get them to stay put. So I folded over a big flap of fabric in the front, stitched it together, and attached a button...

...and cut a small buttonhole through the waistband opposite.

The finished result isn't exactly elegant, but it should be enough to keep them from falling off, which is all that really matters for night wear.

So with those two quick fixes, I should be more or less set for summertime. I don't know how well either of them will hold up, but even if I end up having to buy new sandals or sleep shorts before the summer is out, at least I'll know I didn't give up without a fight.

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