On The Mend

Firefighter uniforms stay in shape with a little extra sewing attention

Courtesy Tymtoi

It’s pretty much a given that firefighters make the best cooks. Some of these men and women really know their way around a kitchen and how to feed hungry coworkers. But could they manage figuring out how to operate the best sewing machine or hand-sew a hem?


Firefighters are in a job where maintaining equipment is critical to success. How many hours are dedicated to ensuring the truck runs without issues or the hoses stay in top condition? As much as those items are essential to battling fires, so are your uniforms and protective clothing. Are you prepared to make sure they are in proper condition? If you’re brave enough to tackle roaring flames, then you should be gutsy enough to try your hand at sewing.


First, some basics: Obviously a sewing machine will allow you to do more heavy-duty stitching, and might be required for extensive repairs. However, there are many mending activities that can be accomplished by hand with a needle and thread. When hand sewing, make sure to knot the thread; after guiding the thread through the needle’s eye, even up both ends then, with them together, form a circle, slip the ends through and pull tight. If the material is thick, then repeat this step a few times to have a large enough knot.


Replacing a button

Hold the button in place while pushing the needle from the backside of the material through one of the buttonholes. Cross over the button to another hole and push the needle down through. Do this as many times as needed with each set of buttonholes until the button is tightly secured. When finished, slip the needle under some of the stitches you created on the backside of the material, pull through almost all the way, then slip the needle through the loop that’s created. This will knot the thread and keep everything in place.


If the fabric under the button is ripped, fix this before fixing the button. The easiest way is to use an iron-on patch and follow directions on the package.


Fixing a fallen hem

The secret to repairing a pant leg hem is to first pin the hem in place. Sew stitches about 1 cm apart and keep them loose to prevent puckering. The stitch should be hardly visible on the outside of the pants. For a no-stitch quick fix, try a hemming web that will fuse the hem in place (follow package instructions).


Securing a seam

A busted seam really is pretty simple to repair. Again, pin it in place before taking a needle and thread to it. However, for your repair to last, start sewing slightly before the tear, going over or reinforcing the still-intact seam. The same applies for the other end of the tear.


Knowing how to fix minor clothing mishaps doesn’t require the experienced hand of a professional seamstress. With a little know-how and a willingness to put in the effort, you can keep your work clothes in great shape.