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Posts from the ‘How-To Manuals’ Category


How to Sew a Button

You just never know. There are those times when you’re getting ready to go out and you notice that your shirt/pair of pants/jacket is missing a button. My mom was a Brownie Pack Leader and she taught me basic sewing from the time I was old enough to know not to put the needle in my mouth [six years old]. I’m now rather deft with ye olde needle and thread and this skill has served me well. It will benefit you too.

  1. Choose a button if you don’t have the original. Look inside the clothing for the extra that manufacturers sometimes include, or buy one that matches the size and color of the other buttons.
  1. Choose thread that either matches the thread color used on the other buttons, the color of the button or the color of the material.
  1. Cut a piece of thread about 1/2 yard long [approximately finger to elbow] and thread the needle, feeding the thread through the eyehole. Doubling the thread [pulling it through the needle so that there is an equal length of thread extending from both sides] makes the task easier.
  1. Tie a knot at the end of the thread, where both ends of the thread meet. Tie another knot, so that the end is doubly secure. The thread should now be doubled and ready to sew.
  1. Place the button on top of the material where you intend to sew it into place.
  1. Place a pin or toothpick under the button across the button’s center and hold it there until the next stitch helps keep it in place. When the pin is withdrawn later, it will allow the slack necessary to create a “shank” so that there will be space between behind the button for the material that will need to go there when the garment is buttoned.
  1. From under the material, push the needle up through the material and one of the holes on the button. Pull all the way through until the knot is anchored against the material. Not – Bring the needle up through the first hole [for a 2-hole button] or a new hole [for a 4-hole button] and pull the thread all the way through the fabric.
  1. Push the needle down through the next hole on the button and through the material.
  1. Repeat steps 7 and 8 three times, going up and down through the hole on the button and through the material, so that each hole is secured by multiple strands.
  1. Pull the thread out into the area between button and material, remove the pin and pull up the button a little.
  2. Wrap the thread six times around the thread between the button and the material to reinforce the shank you have created.
  3. Push the needle back down through the material.
  1. End with the needle on the material side and secure it with a knot. Double-knot this end.
  1. Cut off the excess.

For those Urbanites who are more visual learners, here’s a how-to video:


How to Unclog a Toilet

Live and Learn Urbanites. Never thought I’d ever do a post on this, however, it’s an issue that every man will encounter at some point during his life. For me, this point arrived today. After a failed call to the building maintenance fellow, I decided to take matters into my own hands. Literally. I called my dad to double-check that my common sense approach was indeed correct then popped down to Canadian Tire to grab a plunger. I returned adequately armed for battle.

1ne  Don’t freak out.

2wo  Ensure that the water level is below the rim. If not, you have scoop some out until it gets to a regular toilet-water level – enough to cover the plunger. FYI chemical clog removers won’t be of much use.

3hree  Place some old towels [that you will hopefully toss after] on the floor around the toilet. No matter how careful you are, some water will likely splash onto the floor.

4our  Grab the toilet plunger, usually black with a collar, not to be confused with a sink plunger, typically red without collar [see image], insert it into the bowl and plunge the device up and down vigorously and repeatedly with firm strokes.

5ive  After a number of hearty plunges, push down forcefully on the plunger and then remove it from the bowl. The water should drain normally. If the water drains slowly, or not at all, start the process over again. Once the toilet appears to be unclogged, flush it to make sure that the water drains normally.

6ix  Breathe a sigh of relief.


Proper Shoe Care

There is a science surrounding the wearing and treatment of shoes. Case in point you should never wear a pair of dress shoes two days in a row or more than three times in a week, in order to protect the integrity of the leather and longevity of the shoe. The shoe formula stipulates that each man should have a minimum of three pairs of shoes in his wardrobe (comprising two of your favourite colour – black or brown, and one of the other). Below is a comprehensive guide to the caring of a good pair of shoes.

  • Polish & Conditioning – The cardinal rule is to treat your shoes as you would your own skin (but then again there are guys who don’t even moisturize). With a soft cloth place a dime-sized amount of conditioner and work into the leather, this cleans and restores the natural suppleness. Follow by dressing the heel (solely for leather soles), which alleviates the distressed look in the sole. Follow by applying polish and buff with a horsehair brush or soft cloth to restore the shoes’ lustre.
  • Shoe Trees – Don’t scoff at these cedar inserts, as they are useful in releasing the moisture (perspiration) within the leather, assist in eliminating deep creasing, maintain the shape of the shoe, promote an even wear on the sole and prevent the toe from curling (after all you’re not Aladdin).
  • Specialty Shoes – Suede, nubuck & patent leather create a style territory from which many men refrain. Truth is, shoes from these materials are not more difficult to care for. The difference between suede and nubuck is the finish (suede has visible hairs and nubuck is coarse). To clean suede take a wire brush and go against the grain to expel dust and dirt, then along the grain to restore. Nubuck is simpler, get a rubber-bristle brush and brush back and forth. For patent leather you may go with a specialised cleaner or simply use a soft cloth to remove smudges.

So You Think You Can Pack?

My friend Olga is an ex flight attendant and her packing skills are, in a word, impressive. With baggage fees being what they are nowadays [a total rip-off] I refuse to check luggage unless totally necessary. And by necessary I mean when I get caught by airport [LAX] security with a bag that’s two inches too long for carry-on *rolls eyes*. Here are two videos that show how to pack like a flight attendant pro.


How to Tie a Bow Tie

I can’t recall the number of times that I’ve been asked to tie a bow tie for another fellow. One of the most sartorial men I know, Robert Kennedy from Harry Rosen on Bloor Street taught me how. However, I find that the video below is one of the best that I’ve come across. If vids aren’t your thing check out the illustration. Feel free to print it and keep it in your chest of drawers [or wherever you stash your bow ties].



How to Pack a Moving Truck

So you’re moving. Collectively, everyone feels the same way about moving. Ugh. You pull out that abacus that you bought on Etsy [see it was a great buy] and after sliding some beads back and forth decide to forego hiring a moving company and finally cash in on those favours that your buddies owe you. After making a few calls, you quickly realize who your real friends are. See friend, there’s a big difference between being optimistic and naïve. Anyway, you finally get a few friends to help you with this tiring and time-consuming task just for the free pizza and beer. Awesome! However before you get excited there are a few important steps that you have to follow.

Booking the truck

  • Book your truck 45-60 days in advance. Listen to me, I have moved six times. Also, it’s best to move on a weekday – rental rates can be cheaper & the chances of availability better.
  • The booking agent can assist you in determining what size truck you need depending upon the number of rooms in your apartment/condo/house. Also never forget to ask if there are any discounts [e.g. Student, CAA/AAA, military etc.]
  • If you don’t have a driver’s license, like me, but are having a friend drive the truck, please ask if the person whose credit card is being used has to be the driver. This simple question can save you from a massive clusterf*ck. If they won’t allow you [the non-driver] to book the truck, you now have another favour to ask.
  • Book the truck for an early pick-up. 9am or 10am. Trust me.

Get time [a day or two] off work

  • Even if you move over the weekend, get a day or two off. You need it, not just to recuperate, but also to unpack and have a semblance of normality. Do you really want to be screaming at the universe on Monday morning when you can’t find a matching pair of socks? Or any underwear? Yeesh!

Moving Day

  • Greet your buddy [the driver], with a coffee and a bagel/croissant. Go pick up the truck on-time.
  • Ensure that she/he has her/his driver’s license [and that it’s not expired]. Trust me.
  • En route from the truck rental company, call the rest of your friends who will be helping you move and ensure that they haven’t forgotten and are on their way.

 Put your mattresses in the truck first.

  • Stand the mattress(es) against the walls of the truck and secure them with the ties if the truck has them. This keeps the mattress(es) out of the way and provides a cushioning on the side of the truck to cushion other belongings.
  • You can also tie box springs and other bed parts to the sides of the truck.

 Load the largest and heaviest items first.

  • The majority of the weight should be in the front of the truck, so the back-end of the truck doesn’t drag while you drive.
  • Start with large household appliances such refrigerators, ovens, washers and dryers.
  • Next, load large pieces of furniture, such as sofas, living room chairs and entertainment units.

Tuck smaller pieces and packed boxes in around and under the furniture on the truck to make good use of your space and to prevent items from shifting in transport.

Cover appliances and furniture for protection as you are loading them.

  • You can rent furniture pads from most moving truck rental companies.
  • If you plan ahead, you probably have a lot of things that you need to move with you anyway that would make great protective pads in the truck. When packing your house, leave all blankets, sheets, towels and other linens unboxed and use them when packing.

Stack your packed boxes in the back of the truck carefully.

  • Choose boxes of similar size and strength so you can stack them on top of each other.
  • Place the heaviest and largest boxes on the bottom.
  • Place only lightweight boxes in the truck above shoulder level.

Put your rugs on the moving truck last.

  • You can use them to cushion your possessions from the top and from each other, but you want them to be easy to unpack first when you arrive at your new home. That way you can put them down before moving your furniture in.

When you get to the new place

  • Unpack the truck systematically; be careful not to scuff the walls.
  • Order pizza and grab a few cold drinks. No beer for the driver 😦

Returning the truck

  • Upon renting, they will inspect the truck and see where the gas marker is. Take note of all the materials/items that came with the truck and where the gas marker was.
  • A number of trucks from rental companies are diesel only. Not every gas station sells diesel. Ensure to Google Map a station that sells diesel close to the truck rental drop-off point.
  • Ensure to fill the truck back to where the marker was upon pick-up. If you rented moving equipment, such as pads or dollies make sure that these are in the truck.

General Tips

  • Use the space inside of furniture by packing small items inside drawers and other storage areas. Put the items into the furniture after you have it on the truck if packing it first makes it too heavy to carry. Then, position the furniture with the drawers and doors facing the wall of the truck to prevent them from opening during the move.
  • If your moving truck has a small cubby above the cab, use that space for delicate items that don’t get packed in advance, such as televisions and computers.
  • If you rent a truck that is larger than you need and you do not fill the truck completely, you can minimize moving and jostling by leaving the empty space at the back of the truck and keeping the height of your packing low and even.
  • Distribute the weight evenly on both sides of the truck. Do not put too many heavy items on one side of the other.
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