How-To: Add Flair to Your Pants with Patches

Craft & Design

March Mending Month

Here’s an embarrassing story that should in no way deter from you using this easy fix to extend the life of your clothes. Several years ago I used a small purple flower to patch a hole in a pair of my favorite pants. The tear was at the spot where your upper thigh meets your buttocks. OK, on the butt; I think I sat down on a nail or something.

Anyway, fast-forward a few years. I now have an almost 2-year-old to whom we’re teaching sign language. The “sign” for flower is unfortunately made by scrunching up your nose and sniffing. Arlo learned this sign quite easily and showed his mastery of it by following me around sniffing loudly and sometimes pointing at my behind whenever I wore my patched pants. Imagine walking around in Safeway with a toddler following behind you at butt level, pointing and sniffing. Years later, the entire family sniffs and points whenever I wear any pants with a patch on them. Hilarious. Nonetheless, I do not waiver in my love of the well-placed patch. Patches make cheap (and small) souvenirs, and I often use cloth flowers and stars I find in the scrapbook section.

On a recent family trip, Arlo picked out a couple of patches as souvenirs. Then a fabulous Girl Scout badge emblazoned with Maker Faire showed up at the office, and I knew it was time to repair the knees in some torn jeans. Such an easy way to get that thrill of accomplishment while saving money and personalizing your clothes!

  1. Heat your iron to cotton setting. Grab an old hand towel or dust rag to help with the process.
  2. Put your patch, face side down, inside the piece of clothing, which is turned inside out. Center the patch under the hole you want to cover, so that you’re looking at the sticky backside of the patch through the hole or tear.
  3. insideout.jpg

  4. Lay the towel over the hole, making sure to cover the entire area of the patch. Press the hot iron onto the towel, but don’t move it side to side. Pick up and press down the hot iron repeatedly for about 5 minutes. Some people recommend ironing the patch in this way for up to 15 minutes, but I don’t have the patience, and 5 minutes seems to work.
  5. ironingpatch.jpg

  6. Turn the pants right side out and do the same on this side — cover the patch with a towel and iron for 5 minutes. Take care to focus on the edges and corners to really push them down.
  7. Pick up the towel and check to see that your patch is attached to your pants. If it looks secure, you’re done. If not, stitch a few small stitches at strategic spots around the patch for added security. I’ve done this at the tips of a 5-point star and at the 4 corners of a square souvenir patch, and it’s always held up nicely.
  8. sewingcorners.jpg

  9. If, after several washes, the edges of the patch starts to curl up, you can repeat the ironing process and then add some strategic stitches.
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Sometimes helpful editor and digital media director at MAKE and CRAFT.

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