It’s going to happen every now and then – you’re going to come across a stain which, no matter how hard you and your dry cleaner both try, just won’t shift. That’s just how the cookie crumbles sometimes! I know that might seem like a strange thing to say after I’ve just published a book all about stain removal – I should be telling you that you’ll be never have to be bothered by a stain ever again, but the truth is that sometimes stains just don’t want to budge – especially if it’s taken you a while to get round to treating it. The tips and ideas in this blog post about covering and hiding stains on your clothes are taken directly from my new book, The Little Book of Stain Removal. The book is available in my online shop in both digital and physical form, and can be shipped anywhere around the world.
So, I thought it might be nice to give you some suggestions on what you can do to cover those marks that threaten to remind you of that ice cream you had in May 2017 for all of eternity. I’ve made sure to include methods that don’t involve any sewing too, for those of you who dread picking up a needle and thread!
Dye the whole garment – A great option for cottons and denim! You can either try and match the shade, or change the colour completely. There are loads of different dyes available, so you should be able to find one to suit your fabric – just make sure that whatever fabric you’re going to be dyeing is specifically mentioned on the packaging. If your garment is made of a fabric which is particularly delicate or special to you, consider getting it professionally dyed, or maybe give this method a miss. If you prefer, there are also loads of resources available about dyeing clothes with natural ingredients (like beetroot!). I’ve included a couple of those on the resources page, so be sure to check them out!
Refashioning – You can real let your inner designer out with this one. Depending on where the stain is, how large it is and how drastic you want to be, you could completely change the garment you’re working with into something entirely different. For example, If jeans have a big paint splodge somewhere below the knee, you (or a tailor) could cut them into shorts!
Repurpose it -If a stain really isn’t salvageable and you don’t want to have to put the effort into covering it up, just change up what you wear it for. Turn the paint-splodged jeans into your painting or gardening jeans – ones that you just throw on when you know you might get a bit messy. Tops could become nightwear, or if the stain is really bad/ big, cut the garment into rags that you can use for cleaning, or put it in a textile recycling bag.
LESS DRASTIC SOLUTIONS
Embroidery – adding some embroidery over a stain is a great way to both cover it up and add a little pizazz to an item of clothing. There are loads of great embroidery designs and ideas for you to be inspired by – just look at Pinterest and you’ll be brimming with them!
Beads/ sequins – This one’s nice and easy, but the finished product will still look great. I would recommend staying away from wooden beads though, because they tend be really difficult to wash. It’s worth remembering here that you might end up having to hand wash or dry clean a garment with delicate embroidery or beading!
Add a patch – If you’ve made the item of clothing yourself and, with it, have made up a mending kit of the spare fabrics, buttons and whatnot (see the ‘mending kit tutorial and blog post over on clothingcareco.com if you want to make mending kits for your future makes), you can add a patch of the same fabric over the stain to make it a bit less noticeable. Alernatively, you could go all out and add a patch made of a completely different fabric. Choose one that compliments the garment’s colours, or go all out clash if you prefer! Again, it might be worth adding a couple of patches to the non-stained areas too, to make it look more like a design feature and less like you’re just trying to cover up that stain.
THE MINIMUM/ NO-SEW COVER UPS
Add an iron on patch – there are loads of these available to order online, and they’re not too expensive! These look great on jeans, jackets and t-shirts. It might be worth just adding a couple of reinforcing stitches around the edge of the patch to make sure that it won’t fall off.
Stick on studs – these a little bit less likely to be permanent, but if it’s a garment that needs to be dry cleaned anyway they’re a great idea, and can be really inexpensive! Do make sure that you’re buying the studs which are designed for clothing though, not for nails.
Fabric paint – If you feel that you’re more of a natural with a paintbrush than a needle, give this a go! There are lots of fabric painting tutorials online with plenty of tips and ideas. Make sure that the paint you buy is for fabric, or that you mix it with a suitable fabric medium, otherwise you won’t end up with the best of effects.