Man Made DIY


02651

Aug 27, 2013

The DIY Tailor: An Easy Way to Fix Holes in Your Jeans and Other Garments

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There are two basic principles to the ManMade approach to style and dress: fit is everything, and buy high-quality, universal items that will last. In order to help you hold on to those investment items, and make sure they suit you as best they can, ManMade is happy to present our latest series: The DIY Tailor. This summer and fall, professional tailor and alteration specialist Danni Trester will teach us some basic sewing principles and easy DIY repairs that every guy should know. 

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It happens. To to all of us.  Suddenly your favorite pair of jeans, that you've worn in just perfectly, gets a blow out and you're absolutely gutted. But Have no fear!  You can give new life to old friends with this pictorial guide on how to repair holes! 

This technique can be applied to any garment, fabric, or hole size.  It's no magic bullet - the stitching will be visible and it won't look like new.  But if you match your thread and fabric correctly, you can camouflage and reinforce the damaged area to give the garment longevity.  

1) Gather your supplies.  For this task you'll need:

  • matching thread
  • scrap fabric
  • lightweight fusible 
  • scissors (or a pinking shears if you have one)
  • sewing machine that can also sew in reverse (some really old machines can't),
  • Iron and ironing board. 

If you're not sure what fusible is, it's a lightweight non-woven webbing that when ironed between fabric, holds two pieces together.  This will be used to hold your scrap fabric to the back of your hole so you can stitch it. 

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2) To make things a little easier, and to be sure you don’t cut into any other part of the garment, put the item of clothing around an ironing board.

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3) Cut off the frayed edges of the fabric so you have a clean edge.  This will make it easier for the scrap fabric you’re stitching on to blend in to the rest of the garment. 

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All cleaned up:

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4) Turn the garment inside out and lay back onto the board.  Cut your scrap fabric large enough to cover the damaged area and a little extra to extend into an unworn part.  You may find you’ve got a pretty large piece if the fabric around the hole is also worn.  You should reinforce any weakened areas too because if you don’t, they’ll be the next to get a hole. 

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5) Tear off little bits of your fusible to make a ring around the hole.  Be careful not to get any over the edge, or you’ll see it on the outside.

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6) Center your scrap over the hole, careful not to get too much on one side or the other.

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7) Once your fabric is centered, iron the backside of the scrap.  Use the steam setting, and hold it for a few seconds to make sure the fusible adheres.

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8) Once you’re fused, it should look something like this:

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Now let’s sew!

9) Set up your machine with a matching thread.  A lot of times with jeans, or worn fabric, you may need a lighter color for the more worn areas, and a darker color for the less worn.  If you have a limited selection of thread, or you’re not very particular, the same color for all is fine.  But if you’re really trying to make it blend in, you can change the color part of the way through. For this demo, I am starting with a lighter color and switching to a darker.

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10) Change your stitch length to a shorter length.  Not too short that you’re sewing in one spot, but not so large that it can easily be worn loose.  Turn your garment inside out.  Starting on the outside of the hole, sew forward until you’re on the inside of the hole, on the scrap fabric.  Hold your reverse button and stitch back to the point where you started.  Repeat this action, going back and forth.  As you’re sewing slightly pull the fabric to the side so that as you are sewing forward and backward, it’ll start to form a zig zag (NOTE: I don’t mean to use the zig zag stitch on your machine.  You’ll be using the regular straight stitch, but the back and forth motion will create a zig zag shape).  Go around the entirety of the hole, pivoting at the corners.

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11) Once you’ve gone all the way around, stitch around the perimeter of the hole to tack down any loose fibers.  You can do little back and forth sewing here too, just don’t pull the fabric to make the zig zag.

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12) Now that I’ve stitched the lighter color, I’m switching to the dark to stitch the less worn areas.

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Pivoting at the corner:

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13) Once you’ve stitched everything, turn your garment over and snip the extra threads off the front and back.  Note the stitching pattern: zig zag around the perimeter, tighter stitching around the edge of the hole.

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14) If the scrap fabric didn’t get totally stitched down, trim off the excess fabric so that it doesn’t curl up as the garment is washed and worn.  A good way to keep the fabric from unraveling is cutting the scrap with a pinking shears.  If you don’t have one of these, a scissors will work fine, you just will have more fraying of the scrap fabric on the inside.

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A pinking shears:

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23) While your garment is inside out, press the fabric to smooth out the stitching. 

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24) Turn the garment right side out and press the outside of the area. 

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Clip any extra threads that may have come loose as you were working.

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Close up of the stitching:

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You did it!

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Danni Trester is a textile designer that's been daylighting as a tailor for the last seven years.  In addition to alterations, she designs and produces accessories which she sells at indie craft shows across the Midwest. 
Etsy shop: www.innad.etsy.com 

 

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If you do this via handstiching, it's going to take you a really long time.  The important thing about using a machine is that you get lots of little stitches which combines the two fabrics and provides stability.  If you try to hand sew it, it won't hold up as well or look as nice as if you did it with a machine.  But work with what you have. 

I meant do as well??
What if you do not have a sewing machine? Will hand stitching dobas well?
But I can't sew......
This is fantastic !! Thank you for saving my very loved, worn in jeans!! I was just about to throw them out, but now I can fix them up and keep on enjoying for a while longer. Thank you !!!!!

Hey Bonnie, you're right, you can use the inside side of denim.  I do that as well.  Whatever you can do to match the color best, go for it!

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This is a great tutorial. I have found (I know it is not the correct way to do but it works for me) I use a patch as close to color as possible and place the wrong side out to the front. It matches much closer when you are finished, especially on faded or stone washed fabric. Not a critisiam just an idea.Thanks for the great tutorial. 

Thank you for your reply.

Hey guys, thanks for your responses.  To answer your questions - yes, you can use zig zag stitching.  Any stitching will work.  However, in my experience doing this for over 7 years, zig zag doesn't hold up as well.  When you use a zig zag sititch, the stitch tends to be longer.  As a result, you're more likely to snag the thread or wear it down and the repair won't last as long.  Also zig zag stitching will be more visible and obvious than a straight stitch.


Yes, you can use an iron on patch.  But again, it won't last as long/camouflage the hole.  There are lots of different ways to repair things.  But this is the way I've found to be the least noticeable/last the longest. 

Keep on thinking!

Lot of people on here doing a whole lot of criticizing.  This is a valuable post where he shows you an excellent way to patch a hole. If you want loose threads and frays, then keep them, but don't be discouraging to someone who took the time, FOR FREE, to show the internet how to patch something in a very professional and clean manner. SAY THANK YOU or shut UP. Damn, people! Be grateful instead of criticizing!!

Wouldn't it have been just as effective, and simpler, to have bought iron-on patches? They come in different shades of denim blue - cut, iron on, cool, done. I've done this with my son's & husband's jeans for ages. My son didn't appreciate the patches as much as the holes (kids!!) so I'd leave raveled fabric strands to 'hide' the patch and press 'em in place. =)

Is there any reason not to use a zig zag stitch if your machine has the stitch?  Thanks

@Dana - I agree with Danni. A hole in the crotch or thigh flatters no one...and nobody is paying for that. 

Hey Dana, This is actually a pretty big hole, and in an inconvenient spot.  Getting holes in the crotch is not necessarily a good thing. 

You're goiung through way too much trouble for such a small fray... People pay over $30 dollars for denim with frasys in them.

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