Wednesday, November 28, 2012

When A Pinterest Pin Makes You Over Think

I love Pinterest, you probably love Pinterest, I think we all may love Pinterest. For the most part, it only serves as a digital scrapbook of all the sewing ideas we have, or the recipes we want to make, or tutorials teaching you how to make a your own space ship from some pipe cleaners, an empty 2 liter bottle, and some white vinegar. However, being the over analyzer and general over thinker that I am, I can't just let a pin be a pin. Oh no! A pin must make me ponder the deep questions of the universe, or in this case what we have come to expect of the clothing industry and why mending skills are not seen as necessary anymore.

If I haven't lost you yet, I welcome you, fellow over thinkers of the world to a pin inspired group think tank, also known as the comments section. It all started innocently enough, I was scrolling through Pinterest when a saw a pin, originally credited to a Real Simple magazine article. Real Simple suggested that their readers apply clean nail polish over the buttons of their clothing in order to stop the button threads from unraveling. Who comes up with this stuff?

This now brings me to my next point. Have we as a society come to expect, and accept, that most RTW clothing is so shoddily made that we have to apply nail polish to our clothing in order to keep it from falling apart? Go into any department store and I guarantee you will find an abundance of clothing with buttons where loose threads abound. It is not a random thing to buy a new garment and have the button fall off. This seems to be a pretty common occurrence. Why do we, as consumers, accept shoddy workmanship so easily? Do we want a bargain so badly we are willing to slap some nail polish on our newest Forever 21 outfit in order for it to stay together for a few wears?

Personally, I think it is a combination of two things. First, we as a consumer society have a desire for clothing to be a cheap and disposable resource. If you're only wearing an outfit a handful of times, who cares if it takes some nail polish to hold it together? Secondly, I think we have a generation of consumers who don't know what quality is. When less than stellar workmanship abounds, we tend to slowly accept that as the norm.  Had I not become interested in vintage and sewing, I too would have no idea how well clothing could be made.

This brings me to my last point. Why would anyone think that applying nail polish to a button would be a better solution than simply sewing the button back on? Is it laziness? Sewing a button on requires minimal effort, and a needle and thread are not expensive or hard to acquire tools. Mending is simply not a skill that many people view as important or necessary for a self sufficient lifestyle. If clothing is seen as a disposable resource, I can understand why someone wouldn't feel that sewing a button back on was worth their time or attention.

So, readers and fellow over analyzers, what is your take on this? Would you ever slather a  button with a dollop of clean nail polish or do you find that idea to be absurd?


  1. I have used nail polish on other things but not on new rtw clothes! While I don't love sewing on buttons, it's not hard at all! I've found that I much prefer to go bargin hunting at a pricier store rather than pick up a few things regular price at a cheaper store now that I sew.

    I had a fun shopping day at the mall with my stepmom this weekend and (aside from me think a lot of the stuff was just ugly) everything felt icky and polyester-y. :( I didn't end up buying much but I did realize how much sewing has made me a fabric snob!

  2. Interesting point.

    I too, have seen that pin, but I never thought of it in this way. Have you noticed how many people who find out when you sew, state with pride "oh I can't even sew on a button". This pin is for them. If I had a dollar for every time I've heard that, I'd own a top of the line Bernina. 8-)

  3. I agree with Elle, it's almost a point of pride for some people that they can't do a simple domestic task like sewing on a button or cooking their own food. At the restaurant I work at we have to have collars that button down, which is often hard to find on women's dress shirts. A friend (who sews) offered a new girl some buttons to fix it and she responded with a head flip and a proud "oh, I don't sew!!!" I guess I don't understand an attitude of not wanting to be self-sufficient.

  4. I have a cardigan from target that came with a little baggie that included an extra button AND extra matching thread. Many other garments have included extra buttons, but this was the first time they were thoughtful enough to include the thread. Too bad they didn't also include a needle! and probably a thimble too, so that i can't sue if i hurt myself… he he. but, none of the buttons have fallen off!

    but no, i would not put nail polish on all of my buttons, that's just too much. it's not that hard to back on a button.

  5. Besides the fact that I really don't care to add unnecessary toxins to my clothes, (let's not discuss the teenage years of repairing runs in nylons, k?), adding nail polish to secure a poorly sewn button definitely falls in the realm of the absurd to me.

    It just seems lazy to me.

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  7. This was funny to read because of all the valid points you made. I have tried on a shirt in a store and the button fell off as I was taking it off! It couldn't even survive the dressing room. BAD quality.
    While I can understand that someone who has never picked up a needle can have a hard time holding a tiny button in place and trying to sew it exactly in the right spot; avoiding it by slapping some polish on your shirt is silly. (Even if you are only going wear it a few times)