Oct 13, 2016

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

created at: 08/27/2013

Hey ManMakers! We're spending this week in the workshop creating some new projects, and so, in addition to new content and cool inspiration, we'll be sharing some classics from ManMade's all-time greatest hits.


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. 

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:

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 tailor with over 10 years experience.  She is currently located in Rochester, MN.  In addition to alterations, she is a designer and shoemaker. 

Website: www.trestertailor.com
Etsy shop: www.innad.etsy.com 



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embdigitizing on Sep 23, 2017:

Your article contains all the necessary elements which makes the article interesting.

Milena on Aug 27, 2017:

Hi! I found your ideas for jeans repairs very useful. :) How can I do the stitches manually, by hand? Thank you.

Kate @ OneBagger on Jun 08, 2017:

I've had a few small holes in merino garments before. They happen if your washing machine is too harsh, the shirt snags on something, or if little crawlies can get to the shirt where you are storing them.
I usually just darn the hole with a needle and thread. Since the t-shirts are knit (as opposed to woven), this is pretty much your only option. The first time I did it, it looked pretty awkward, but now that I've done it two or three times, the mend is virtually undetectable.
Kate @ onebagger.com

Dimple on Jan 24, 2017:

this is actually very nice,
but please let me know how may i repair my jeans because my jean burn near around zip and whole size is like mid figure.

Denise Robinson on Dec 19, 2016:

I liked how the jeans looked after the repair was done. I will be trying it on my jeans and I hope mind look this good.

Design Craft on Oct 07, 2016:


Proper darning

Misty on Jul 25, 2016:

Thank you. I have been looking for something like this for a very long time!!

Gayla on Jun 28, 2016:

This is last year, let me say I have 15 levi's that are my hubby work pants ,you just showed me how to do what he wants. SEW E Z THX,

DAWNYZ on Apr 13, 2016:

Amazing tutoria! Sadly we've lost the art of making clothing of any kinda last longer. I got lucky and was taught but this is great for those learning. Love your method to fix denim. Have a wonderful day

Stefania on Mar 13, 2016:

Very helpful!  Thank you very much.  I've successfully used this methodology.  I feel very accomplished!  One note, I don't know if anyone else noticed but the link supplied for the "lightweight fusible" sends you to the Amazon page for the wrong type of fusible.  It links to fusible interfacing which is one-sided and what we need here is either fusible web/adhesive.  This is confusing enough for newbie seamstresses.

Donna on Dec 31, 2015:

I make a very similar invisible repair. But rather than using the forward/reverse method shown here, I use the stretch stitch. It is quite similar to a zig zag stitch, but it makes three stitches up each zig and down each zag. I get the same look for much less effort.
Another helpful step is to make sure the weave of your patch lines up with the weave of your garment, so they have the same directionality of stretching.

Anonymous on Nov 12, 2015:

Is there a hack for patching blown out knees? How do you take into account your knee bending so that it doesn't rip or obliterate your jeans and patch?

GrammyGee on Oct 24, 2015:

Great tutorial! To answer the question about using a "zig zag" stitch instead of the stitch shown: if you hope to keep this patch job as un-noticeable as possible, use the stitch she describes in the tutorial, it's called a "darning stitch" by old sewing pros. If you use a zig-zag stitch on your machine, the result will look nothing like the patch in the tutorial. Feel free to try it out, but be sure to have a good seam ripper handy......it's not pretty....

Anonymous on Sep 29, 2015:

I apply Elmers glue around the hole and stick the fabric patch down before doing the sewing. The first trip through the wash will dissolve all of the glue.

MOHAN on Sep 05, 2015:




joan on Sep 03, 2015:

Do you have any tips for repairing pockets that are tearing away from the pants on top corners?

Anonymous on Aug 16, 2015:

Who the heck is Mary?

Lori on Jul 08, 2015:

Fantastic site!!!  Similiar but sooo much easier than the way I was taught (using straight pins instead of fusible)

Chas on Jul 07, 2015:

Mary, I am a man, and I have access to around thirty or more sewing machines! Not only can I sew and serge with my machines, I can time them and replace gears if necessary.

Stereotyping can fall flat on you!


Scotty Rebels on Jun 11, 2015:

Excellent site. Question : how about hand sewing my jeans?
Recently traded my sowing matchine set up in exchange for the services of lady who does re upholstery up the street. She is a ninja, and takes great care in correcting the abuse my leathers suffer at the hands of yours truly . A worthy trade when you consider the cost of having any leather jacket repaired elsewhere. plus, I never got around to fig. Out how to set up the needle so i could actually mend my clothes ( this cat barely made it through home ec. ; )
Any help would be much obliged