How to: Mend your flimsy umbrella

I used to forget my umbrella all the time. I’d regret it, and buy the flimsy ones on the street, hoping that my $5 purchase would keep me dry. But New York is too windy for the easily breakable umbrella.

The most common problem I’ve found with using an umbrella in New York is that the fabric tends to come off of the spokes due to poor sewing. The threading cannot withstand the intense wind and thus, the fabric tears loose.

What to do? Here’s a quick solution with easy steps to repair your brolly, and get dry again:

Open your umbrella and flip it inside out. You will see that the umbrella has a stem and that the fabric is supported by a frame that resembles a metal octopus—but the fabric is supported by spokes instead of legs.

Examine each of the spokes and see where the fabric has detached from the spokes. Each of these problem areas can be fixed with strong string.

Take a liberal amount of string (make sure the color corresponds to your umbrella’s fabric color) and thread that through a sewing needle. When your needle is about halfway through the amount of string you’ll be using (most of the time you’ll use about five inches but some areas of the umbrella may need more string) take both ends of the string and tie them together.

Then examine the problem area. You’ll see that there is an eyelet or some sort of hole on the spoke, and you’ll be able to push the needle and thread through it. Grab the fabric in the problem area and sew your needle through the fabric and then through the designated eyelet again. Sew around this eyelet until you think your mend will be able to stand the next difficult gust of wind or rain. Repeat this process for each ripped part of the inside of the umbrella.

Sometimes the fabric comes off the end of a spoke and bunches up. To fix this, pull the fabric back to where it is supposed to be. The end of a spoke is actually the easiest part of the umbrella to sew back to the fabric. The eyelet is clearest and widest here and you can repeat the process detailed above.

If you’re having mechanical problems with the stem of your umbrella, or if you’re unable to get the button to work, that umbrella needs to be trashed.

You can also use the spoke-sewing method before your umbrella breaks as a preventative measure.

For umbrellas with large holes in the fabric, go to a fabric shop and purchase some water-resistant fabric to patch the hole. Then use durable string to sew a patch over the hole.

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