The nonprofit Reuse Minnesota is putting on free clothing repair and reuse education events in Stevens Square-Loring Heights in December and throughout 2024. The events are funded through a grant from the State of Minnesota that covers: clothing repair and reuse education, fix-it clinics for clothing repair, repairing clothing to be resold at Old School by Steeple People, and a community needs assessment.

Reuse Minnesota communications assistant Carolyn Wieland said that the project’s overall goal is to repair and repurpose textiles as well as to educate people on how to do the same. Reusing clothing instead of buying new is cheaper and better for the planet.

“We live in a world where you can replace anything in a moment's notice, you can order something, go to a store and buy something and it's so easy,” Wieland said. “It saves you money when you can fix things yourself.”

The first event, which happened on Nov. 27, was a clothing reuse education class at Old School by Steeple People to learn how to turn old textiles into reusable gift wrapping. The staff at Reuse Education set up sewing machines and provided materials for participants to learn the craft. Participants took home the finished products at the end of class.

Most Reuse Minnesota mending classes will be held at Old School by Steeple People at 1901 Nicollet Ave. Photo by Anna Koenning

There is a similar clothing repair education event at Old School, 1901 Nicollet Ave., on Dec. 19, this time to learn how to repair and replace broken zippers. Participants should bring an item with a broken zipper to learn how to fix it during the 1.5-hour class. Registration is required for the free event.

Reuse Minnesota will also host mend-it clinics for community members to bring clothing that needs mending like a shirt missing a button, a ripped seam or too-long pants for mending. Staff will mend the clothing and teach basic mending skills. A sewing machine will also be available for community members who know how to mend but don’t have access to a machine.

The first mending clinic will be at Old School on Jan. 7 from 1 - 4 p.m.

In addition to the events, Reuse Minnesota contractors will repair clothing that people donate to Old School. Thrift shops like Old School frequently receive donations of clothing with minor issues like missing buttons that are easily mendable. Reuse Minnesota sewists will mend donated clothing and return them to Old School to sell, extending the lifetime of the garment.

These events will continue throughout 2024 and most, if not all events, will be at Old School. Wieland said that they chose Old School for the events because of Stevens Square-Loring Heights’ density, diverse population and easy transit access.

Wieland had some reuse tips for the holiday season. In addition to making easy reusable gift wrapping to prevent the waste of disposable wrapping paper, people can use everyday objects like used oat containers for Christmas gifts. Another tip to give Christmas cards another life is to cut out the holiday-themed shapes from last year’s cards to write “to” and “from” tags for gifts. Reuse Minnesota also has a gift guide for sustainable gift ideas.

All Reuse Minnesota events are free. Check the Reuse Minnesota calendar to keep tabs on the events, and Southwest Voices will include them in the weekly events calendar. Online registration is required for the education-based events and fix-it clinics are on a drop-in basis. Wieland recommended that people get on the waitlist if an event is full, because people drop out at the last minute.