A student wearing a Kansas City Chiefs sweatshirt stretched out his left arm showing a hole in the sleeve and asked the two young women sitting behind a sewing machine: Could they fix it?
Alison Riddle said “of course,” and quickly threaded the sewing machine with red thread to match the sweatshirt.
Five minutes later the student put his sweatshirt back on, looked in the place where the hole used to be, said “looks good,” thanked them, and went on his way.
Every Friday, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., a few college students set up the Fix-it Friday booth in the Nebraska Union waiting for projects to come to them. The service is completely free.
“So we take any textile items like bags, clothes, shoes – really anything we can stick a needle through–and fix it for free. It’s a way that we can divert waste from going to the landfill,” Hannah Hidalgo said.
They can fix anything from holes in shirts to missing buttons. They’ve even repaired a quilt.
Fix-it Friday started at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln two years ago when members of Sustain UNL proposed it to the Association of Students at the University of Nebraska as a Green Fund project and they approved it. The Green Fund gives grants to student-run projects that want to improve environmental sustainability on campus.
“A lot of college students, if they have a hole in their shirt or a hole in their backpack, they’ll end up buying a new shirt or backpack because they don’t know how to fix it,” Hidalgo said. “And so we’re a nice resource for people to just walk by and see us and be like, ‘Oh yeah, there’s this thing I need done.’ Saves some money, saves the landfill waste.”
They try to do the repairs quickly, but it depends on what needs mending.
“Sometimes you’ll get in big projects with several holes that’ll take like half an hour or so,” Riddle said. “It really just kind of varies.”
There are currently four women who help out with Fix-it Friday, but they are always trying to recruit more people. All you need is a will to learn how to sew.
“You don’t have to be a seamstress or have sewn much before. I think the other two girls in the group haven’t really sewn much other than just home DIY, like fixing a button or a hole,” Hidalgo said. “So yeah, pretty minimal skills are needed, which is nice because then people can join if they want to.”
Riddle and Hidalgo said they get more of a steady flow of projects later on in the semester once people become more aware of them, and even as the weather changes and people realize their clothes for the next season need repaired.
The two joked that even though the service is free, they do love food.
“Fries as payment are welcome anytime,” Hidalgo said. “Just bring your stuff.”