Have you ever stumbled upon the perfect find at your local thrift store, only to take it home and realize it was broken? Or maybe that beautiful quilt your grandma made now has a few holes and tears? Well, don’t despair: ReUSE has a great network of repair volunteers around Minnesota ready to help restore your well-loved and soon-to-be-loved items. The Fix-It Clinics in both Hennepin and Dakota County offer fantastic opportunities to repair your items for free, while teaching valuable skills and keeping items out of the trash!
For this blog, we connected with a few Fix-It volunteers and asked: what’s your most memorable fix-it story? Here’s what we heard:
“At our very first Fix-It Clinic in Sept 2012, a guy came in with an antique radio. He and his girlfriend had been browsing antique stores, and this radio was playing a song they loved, so they bought it. A little while later she dropped the radio and it stopped working. For her birthday, he wanted to fix it. All the volunteers ate up the story and were eager to help. They dug in and ended up fixing the problem with the spring from a ballpoint pen. He left happy. Just before her birthday, he tested the radio, and it wasn’t working. Because he participated in the repair, he opened the radio back up, found a loose wire, reattached it and the radio worked. She was thrilled to have the radio working again for her birthday! They later got married and the radio was at their reception!”
“A couple of years ago, a gentleman came in with a sewing machine which hadn't been used in several years and he couldn't get to work. It was a not long until Halloween and he wanted to use it to sew costumes for children. It would turn over by hand with great resistance. I did a 'clean and lubrication' which isn't very hard and usually cures such machines.
Well, this helped a little but it had resistance to moving at some points in its rotation. I began to think there was a bad gear or some such, which I can't fix without a replacement for the broken part. I persisted with little more lubrication on moving parts and more attempts to get it to work using the foot pedal. Finally it began to run smoothly. The fellow who brought it in was overjoyed and began to jump with joy.
You get paid for doing this in ways better than money."
I grew up helping my Dad with lots of projects around the house, including restoring antique furniture. One of my favorite fixes is to make a wobbly wooden chair sturdy again by gluing the joints. Once all of the joints are glued and in the correct position, use a piece of laundry line or other rope (even a jump rope would do) as a clamp for the joints. Wrap the rope around the outside of the chair legs and knot it. Place a wooden spoon or long screwdriver or any other sturdy item perpendicular to the rope and begin turning it to tighten the rope. Be careful as you twist because the wooden spoon will have a tendency to “unwind”. When the rope is snug and provides the right tension needed to hold the joints in place, secure the spoon and wipe of any glue that oozed out. Once the glue is dry (usually overnight), carefully unwind the spoon and rope and your chair will be as good as new and you won’t have to purchase any expensive clamps or grow a third arm to hold everything in place! This technique can be used on just about anything that’s difficult to clamp, providing you’re able to get a rope around it.
I love to look for vintage quilts at flea markets. Sometimes they have been damaged or the fabric has simply worn out. To repair a hole in a quilt top without taking the whole thing apart, consider adding a piece of fabric under the hole and hand sewing around it to secure the patch. This type of fix should work on just about any type of hole, whether created by a tear or if the fabric has disintegrated. For quilts that are more damaged, use a mesh like fabric such as tulle to reinforce the area and then secure a patch.”
If you have a story you’d like to share, send it our way! We’d love to add it to this post or include a longer story as a separate blog. Happy fixing!