Mending a Hole in Blue Jeans

retrochick.JPGMichele says:

I’m going to be honest: I’m not the most creative person.  The first post that I wrote about sewing was inspired by a conveniently timed rip in a pillow.  I gulped when I realized that Home Eccers are interested in learning more mending techniques.  As a childless housewife whose husband spends his days behind a desk, I simply don’t have much mending to do beyond a fallen hem or dropped button.  (Lest you think I don’t have the repair skills to tackle tougher projects, I feel compelled to mention that my husband spent his undergraduate years doing manual labor, while I spent those years mending the constantly torn clothes that resulted.)

All of that to say: I got to the point where I was actively considering buying torn trousers at a thrift store.  Not excited by the idea of spending money on torn clothes, I decided to do one more look through my long forgotten drawer of blue jeans—and it was there that I found the answer to my problem.

While I haven’t worn trousers in the past couple of years, I used to wear jeans every day.  Since I only loved a few of my pairs of jeans, those few pairs got more than a little torn up, and I chose not to do anything about the holes.  (Give me a break.  They were stylish then!)  Given the fact that ratty jeans are most decidedly not stylish, I wouldn’t wear them out of the house if you paid me.  So, I figured now would be the perfect time to teach you how to mend a hole in a pair of jeans.

Before we get started, I have a couple of warnings.  First, the instructions are written based on the assumption that you’ve read the Home Ec 101 post How to Repair an Unraveled Seam, so if you haven’t, read it before you continue.  Second, this technique is best used on smaller holes.  In my experience, it doesn’t work as well on large knee holes and, unfortunately, it is not a miracle cure.  Your jeans are torn and will never look new again.  I’m sorry.  🙁  It’s just one of those facts of life.  Don’t worry, though!  Once you see the results, your old favorite jeans may just become your new favorite jeans.

Home Eccers, thread your needles, and let’s get mendin’!

What You’ll Need:

  • one pair of holey jeans
  • one pair of jeans you don’t mind cutting up (or a half yard of denim)
  • pinking shears (not optional)
  • sewing scissors
  • straight pins
  • a fine tipped, large eyed needle
  • thread, matching or contrasting

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Step 1: Measure the hole that needs to be patched, plus an inch on each side.  Use your pinking shears to cut an appropriately sized patch out of your scrap jeans.  Be sure to save the scrap jeans for future repairs!  Lay the patch over the hole to double check the size.

Step 2: Take the jeans you’re mending, turn them inside out, then lay them flat on a large, flat surface (may I recommend a clean floor?)  Place the patch wrong side up over the hole on the jeans.  Making sure neither the jeans nor patch are wrinkled, carefully place pins around the edges of the patch.  Make sure you don’t poke your pin through both layers of the jeans!  Being careful not to poke your fingers with the pins, turn the jeans right side out.

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Step 3: To make your thread strong enough to patch jeans, measure out an arm’s length of thread four times over.  Carefully line up all four ends of the threads and lick them before twisting the end of the threads together to make something like embroidery floss.  Thread and knot your needle as you learned in steps 4, 5, and 6 the last sewing post.  Once you’re done, you should have “thread” that’s eight strands thick.  If you can’t manage to get all four threads into the eye of your needle, you can use three or two strands of thread, but please don’t use just one!

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Step 4: As we did in step 7 of our last project, start your stitching from the wrong side of the jeans to hide the knot.  Be sure to keep your stitches about a half an inch away from the tear to allow for future unraveling.  If you’re not a handy freehand sewer, feel free to use a regular ol’ piece of chalk (or a pencil) to draw a guideline around the hole. Don’t worry, it will easily wash out.

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Straight stitch around the hole (on top of your guideline, if you’re using one).  If, during your sewing, you find that the fabric between your stitches looks puckered or bunched, gently pull on the fabric to loosen the stitches.  Be sure to check for puckering often; the sooner you fix it, the easier it will be.

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When you get to the end do not reinforce your work as we did in step 9 of the seam repair; the dashed stitches look a lot nicer, in my opinion, and the “reinforced” thread makes one pass strong enough.  Turn your jeans inside out and knot your thread.  Remove the pins and put them away before you continue.  (Pins hurt when you step on them.  Ask how I know!)

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Step 5: Use your pinking shears to cut the excess off the patch.  Leave about a third of an inch to allow for any future fraying (though there shouldn’t be much, if any, thanks to the awesomeness that is pinking shears).

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Turn the jeans right side out and admire your work.  The hole shouldn’t fray beyond the stitching, and the contrasting thread gets a surprising number of compliments (and questions about where you found those unique jeans).  The repair may be obvious, but it will hold up until you decide to replace your jeans—and who knows?  That may not be until your jeans have turned into one big patch!

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Michele Newell is a housewife turned blogger turned Home Ec 101 contributor.  You can read her near daily ramblings at Dreams Unreal.



9 Comments

  1. Patty@homemakersdaily.com on April 17, 2013 at 12:04 pm

    Just shared this with my daughter. She’s been talking about repairing her jeans but wasn’t sure how.

    • Michele Newell on April 18, 2013 at 1:23 pm

      I hope that your daughter is able to save her jeans! I’m currently working on a post showing how to fix tears without using a patch, so ask her to consider checking back later if she doesn’t care for the patch method. 🙂

  2. Marianne on April 15, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    Thank you for the sewing posts. I’m looking forward to more.

  3. Marianne on April 15, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    Thanks so much for your sewing posts. I’m looking forward to more.

    • Michele Newell on April 15, 2013 at 6:33 pm

      I’m glad you’re enjoying! If you don’t mind my asking, is there anything in particular that you’d like to learn in the future? I’m always open to suggestions. 🙂

  4. Bev on April 12, 2013 at 8:58 am

    My son is an auto detailer and is always around chemicals so his jeans gets a lot of holes in them. Plus he wears them until they can’t be mended anymore. Some of his jeans have 12 or more patches on them! I used to sew patches on the inside but while visting JoAnne Fabrics one day I came across a Instant Fabric and Leather Adhesive for the repair of Indoor/Outdoor Items. It’s permanent, washproof and flexible. It’s called Tear Mender and there’s a drawing on the box of the man who ‘invented it’..Val “TheBish” Cismoski. This stuff really works!!! It makes mending jeans a snap and it does what it says it will do. I just cut a patch turn the jeans inside out and glue the patch down. It dries in a few minutes and stays flexible after washing and drying. It comes in a 2 oz. bottle and I’ve already done a few dozen patches with it – some holes even running across the width of the pant leg. I love this stuff!! Had to comment about it…not too many products do exactly what they say they’ll do.

    • Michele Newell on April 12, 2013 at 1:14 pm

      Eek! Forget the jeans, what about your poor son’s legs? 😉

      I’ve always imagined that fabric glues would be great for traveling or quick fixes, but I didn’t have much faith in them for “proper” repairs (says the woman who quadruples her thread). It’s good to know there’s at least one brand out there that works. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Holly on April 12, 2013 at 5:58 am

    After repairing, I sometimes disguise the repair (if in an appropriate place) with an embroidered patch. I got the idea years ago when my daughter was a young girl as she put a hole in her new bathing suit after one use. I repaired the hole and placed an embroidered teddy bear patch over it to disguise the repair that was in an obvious place. After that, did the same with whatever patch the children fancied whenever their clothes had to be repaired, if I could. Or a printed fabric to suit their tastes to make a pocket or patch over the repair. They ended up with ‘customised’ clothes (which were usually their favorites hence the holes) for the price of pennies of a patch or a piece of random fabric I had hanging around the house. ;o)

    • Michele Newell on April 12, 2013 at 6:50 am

      What a cute idea, Holly! My husband and I don’t have children yet, but after reading your comment, I’m already having visions of little appliqued jeans and/or jean skirts dancing in my head. I’m going to file that one away for using a few years down the line–just need to remember not to go purge-crazy on my big ol’ scrap box before then! 😉

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