Angie's List: Give old clothes, shoes, furniture new life - and save money over buying new

Save money - fix old shoes, clothes, furniture

TAMPA - Did you replace your favorite pair of shoes because the soles had worn out? Tossed out a skirt because the zipper broke? Bought a new couch because the cushions sank? "Everyone wants to stretch a dollar these days," said Angie's List founder, Angie Hicks. "Instead of giving up on the outfit... consider getting it altered or getting your shoes repaired and you can really make your money go along way."

Making your old items new again is a lot less expensive than buying new. "Often, people overlook the fact that they can take their shoes to the shoe repair company and they can work miracles. So if you enjoy nice shoes but don't want to blow your budget, consider investing in a pair of nice shoes, but take care of them and they can last you for years versus other shoes that you might have been turning over every season," said Hicks.

A talented cobbler can dye the lavender shoes you wore for your friend's wedding and stretch a pair of shoes that suddenly feel too tight. A qualified shoe repair professional can also replace worn heels/soles, repair straps, and buff scratches and worn looking leather. Just like anything else – regular maintenance and cleaning of your shoes is going to help them last longer. Think of your shoes as part of your outfit, you wash your clothes regularly, so your shoes should be washed about once a week as well.

Angie's List Tips: Taking care of your shoes

  • Re-soling shoes is probably the most common requested shoe repair – and it is pretty inexpensive.  New soles for women's shoes run about $10 for the pair, for men re-soling costs about $20 for the pair.
  • Shoe repair can also alleviate a variety of physical problems. Worn heels will change your gait. When you are not walking properly, your feet, ankles, knees, hips and back can all suffer.
  • Use cream to polish and protect leather. If you do not take these steps, the leather will dry out, crack and fall apart.
  • Get to know your local shoe repair stop and take your shoes in on a regular basis to repair wear and tear. This will keep your shoes lasting even longer.
  • As long as the uppers of the shoe are in good shape, most shoes can always be repaired. When you get into repairing a tear in the leather or stitching, you're looking at a more costly repair, so it may be a good idea to just get a new pair of shoes.
  • If the cost of repair is more than half the price of what a new pair of shoes would cost, you should consider replacing it.
  • Don't stack your shoes on top of one another. Protect your shoes by keeping them in the boxes or on a rack.

Clothing alterations can make a big difference in your overall appearance. If you've gained or lost weight, a tailor can make adjustments that will create a custom fit and salvage your wardrobe for a fraction of the cost of buying new garments. Whether you need a pair of pants hemmed, a zipper repaired or a suit of clothing made to fit, consider the services of a highly rated seamstress or tailor. Alteration experts provide a range of services. The most common reason to visit an alteration shop is to have hems and sleeves adjusted on skirts, dresses, jeans, slacks, shirts, blouses and blazers. Other popular services include mending and resizing garments. Mending services include repairing holes and tears and replacing broken zippers. Size changes can be achieved through adjusting or adding darts to blouses, dresses and blazers. Seams can be taken in or let out to improve fit. The waistlines of pants, skirts and dresses can also be adjusted.

Angie's List Tips: Working with a tailor

  • To test a tailor's service and skill, start with a small job. Simple alterations include replacing a button or a zipper or shortening hemlines.
  • Ask about prices. Do they charge a flat-rate? For hemming regular pants, more stores tell us they charge $8 to $10.
  • There are limits to what even a skilled tailor can do with clothing. Many times a tailor is limited by proportion, especially with a jacket or pair of pants. Pockets and seams can become skewed if a garment is taken in by two or more inches. Also, a large hole in clothing may not be able to be repaired without a visible fix.

A professional furniture upholsterer can give your old furniture new life. A re-upholsterer can often save a damaged piece of furniture by seamlessly, and sometimes creatively, making a repair. Often, a couch or chair cushion just needs to be re-stuffed. If a piece of furniture has a hard wood frame, and coil springs you'll often come out ahead, price wise, to reupholster the piece than to buy a new piece of the same quality.

"The key here," Hicks said, "is how you reinvent your sofa without spending a ton of money. If the sofa itself is in good condition and it's comfortable this is a great alternative. Also, if you're looking for something even less expensive putting a slip cover over your sofa can be a way to give it a whole new look while still being able to get a few more years out of it." Re-upholsterers typically

offer hundreds of fabric types, colors and patterns to choose from. Companies either have a showroom where you can view the fabric samples and others will come to your home.

The cost varies on every piece and is a reflection of the labor needs (time required) to do the job and the cost of the material selected. But be prepared: quality reupholstering can get expensive, so you want to be sure your original furniture is solid, structurally sound or that the sentimental value is worth the investment. Reupholstering a sofa, for example, can run between $700 and $1,200 depending on its size, the type of fabric, and foam and padding needed if the cushions need replaced. Larger chairs can cost around $500, while smaller chairs typically run less than $200.

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