Patch 101

Craft & Design Yarncraft

March Mending Month
Patching is a great way to extend the life of an item of clothing that had a run-in with a nail or is simply getting a little worn out. While a really great piece of fabric or store-bought patch can rescue something headed for the scrap pile, sometimes you want a little more subtlety. In this how-to, I’ll show you how to repair two types of holes from the back: a tear and a worn-out hole. (Funnily enough, I noticed that all of my husband’s pants in need of repair have tears, and all of mine are worn through. Read into that what you will about how we spend our leisure time!)

Repairing a Hole in Torn Fabric
Start with a tear!

Cut a sturdy piece of complementary cloth about ¼"–½" larger than the tear on all sides. I used pinking shears since the patch will be hidden on the inside of the pants, but if you want to be extra conscientious, cut the patch a little larger and fold the edges of the patch under. Turn the pants inside out and pin in place.

Sew the patch to the pants. I used a sewing machine here, but this can of course be done by hand. (This may even be preferable if the tear is in the middle of the pant leg as maneuvering can be tricky on a machine!)

Carefully stitch the tear to the patch fabric behind it. If the tear has a tendency to gape, you may want to pin it shut before you sew in order to keep it as unobtrusive as possible. I used a simple whipstitch here to keep the edges of the corduroy from fraying, but you could also do a running stitch. Snip off the hanging threads when you’re done.

Here’s the finished patch from the back.

And here it is again from the front. It’s not completely invisible, of course, but it will keep the tear from worsening and doesn’t jump out at you.

Repairing a Hole in Worn Fabric
This hole started out as worn fabric rather than a tear. Because the fabric around it is also worn, I’ll need a much larger patch to prevent further damage.

Hold the pants up to the light; if you can see a lot of light shining through, it may not be worth patching them. (Don’t cry! Maybe you can repurpose the fabric for something else. Or patch away in the hopes that you can get a few more wears out of a treasured item.) Here you can see that the fabric is worn, but not hopelessly so.

Cut a patch from sturdy fabric that’s a little bit larger than the most worn part of the fabric. If you have another pair of jeans you can cut the patch from, that’s ideal; I used some canvas, as it’s a similar weight. Turn your pants inside out and pin in place; then sew on the patch.

To support the worn fabric, you’ll want to sew the hole to the backing patch fabric. Since there was no way to really disguise this hole, I figured I’d use some red thread for a little color. You can hand-sew this or even darn it to the patch behind. I did a quick zigzag stitch on my sewing machine. Depending on how thin the fabric you’re patching is, you may wish to sew over the entire patch; since this item was in pretty good shape, I mostly just concentrated on the torn bit.
This technique is a great way to prevent holes from happening in the first place! If a favorite pair of pants is getting thin, sew on a patch and you’ll extend their life quite a bit.

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