From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

How to Patch the Knees of Jeans

Repair a hole in fabric


If you have the time to do it, a neat patch on a damaged garment returns it to useful service, saves you money and gives you a nice glow of pride in your handwork.

Here are the basics of repairing a worn out knee with a patch that is hemmed on both sides. These same ten steps can be used to patch a hole in virtually any fabric item.

1. Following the threads in the denim, cut off the frazzled edges so that the hole is square or rectangular in shape.

2. From an old pair of jeans, cut a patch that is one inch larger on all sides than the hole you are repairing. The edges of the patch should follow the threads in the cloth. Cut a 1/4-inch square out of each corner of the patch.

3. Put the patch inside the jeans leg and center it beneath the hole. Be sure the right side of the fabric is showing through the hole. Pin it securely.

4. Baste the patch in place, running the stitches about 3/4 inch from the edge of the hole.

5. From the right side of the knee, make a 1/4-inch diagonal cut in each of the four corners of the hole. (See image below.)



6. On each side of the hole, fold the fabric to the inside. Baste the folded edge to the patch.

7. Turn the jeans inside out. Remove the basting stitches from the outside edge of the patch.

8. Fold the edge of the patch under on all four sides. Baste the folded edges to the jeans. (See image below.)



9. Press the patch smoothly, lifting the iron up and down rather than sliding it across the fabric.

10. Stitch the edges down on both sides by hand with a hemming stitch, or sew around all edges with your sewing machine. Remove all basting stitches.

When my children were young, I bought a lot of their jeans at garage sales. Often I found jeans that were in excellent condition except for holes in the knees. I bought them for a small price and patched them. It was a good way to save a lot of money.

14 comments:

GarthTrekker said...

This would have been a lot better than what I got when I was little - my mom just ironed on patches! lol - Lyn

ptg said...

I used the iron-on patches and they always fell off after a few washings. I'm going to keep these directions.

One fellow I knew simply wore his work pants backwards to get a second pair of 'knees' to wear out.

Genevieve said...

I hope those work pants were nice and roomy so that guy could still move around!

I was never pleased with the look or feel of iron-on patches, but I admit it's been a long time since I've tried any. Maybe they've improved.

Anonymous said...

My wife used this today to patch my jeans and it worked great. It is a bit of work for sure but the end product was excellent.

Genevieve said...

It is quite a bit of basting and sewing, but the patch will be durable and your wife's handwork saved the cost of a new pair of jeans. Well done.

Anonymous said...

hey loved your stuff.Money for jeans not being an issue I would like to know what you would suggest for maximum comfort and a dash of style. I'd love to preserve the worn in feeling of my old jeans.

Genevieve said...

I don't have any recommendations except that a good fit is essential for comfort. If the jeans fit right, they'll be comfortable even when new.

Kim Hruba said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for keeping this post up! It is exactly what I was looking for! I posted a blog entry today and sited your website for this most-invaluable information!

Thanks again!

Genevieve said...

Hi, Kim. I'm glad the instructions were useful and I hope the patches turn out well.

Anonymous said...

Hi!
Thank you for this article.
What do you suggest for a no-knowledge/no sewing/newbie mother of preschooler?
I'm drowning in a sea of hole-in-the-knee jeans. My little guy loves his denim but.....sigh!

Genevieve said...

Well, I suppose there are iron-on patches that might do.

However, I encourage you to get a few basic sewing items and try sewing on a patch.

Everyone who sews at all (either by hand or with a machine) starts as a beginner. You can't learn without trying!

Sewing is not an inborn talent -- it's a skill that you learn through practice and study. Your first attempts will not be perfect, but you will improve if you persevere.

A fabric store will have an extra-sturdy thread that is especially for patching jeans. A spool will probably cost about $2 to $3. and you won't have to buy it again for a long time.

You will also need some needles. Tell the clerk what you are going to do and ask for advice to get a needle that is just right for a knee-patching job.

You don't want a huge needle because it would be hard to push it through the fabric. You need a smallish, sharp needle, so it will go through the heavy fabric easily. This type of needle is often called a "sharp" or a "quilting needle". A "sharp" for applique is a good choice, because you will be appliqueing a patch!

For heavier denim, use a larger size of sharp. But don't worry overly. Most any sharp needle will do, as long as you can get the thread through its eye.

You might want to get a thimble to wear on one finger to help push the needle through if you hit a tough spot.

You'll also need a pair of scissors that is sharp enough to cut cloth. Never, ever, allow anyone to cut anything but cloth or thread with them.

Two helpful hints -- keep the thread fairly short-- about 2 feet long is enough. That will eliminate a lot of tangles. And cut the thread at a diagonal, rather than straight across, to make it easier to thread the needle.

Everyone who sews (either by hand or with a machine) had to learn sometime. You can do it!

Charlie Kroelinger said...

Wow! What a lovely bit of encouragement and information right here at the end! :) Thank you so very much from a newbie sewer ;)

Anonymous said...

I printed this and put it on the wall in front of my machine, because it makes the loveliest patch for elbows as well as knees, and other places that wear and tear in a man's working clothes. Well, I'm back to print it again because the first copy has worn out. Patches have become embellishments, instead of an embarrassments, thanks to you.

Genevieve Netz said...

I'm so happy that you've been using this method with success. Thanks for letting me know that it has worked for you!

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CONTENTMENT: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry, live simply, expect little, give much, sing often, pray always, forget self, think of others and their feelings, fill your heart with love, scatter sunshine. These are the tried links in the golden chain of contentment.
(Author unknown)

IT IS STILL BEST to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasure; and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.
(Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1867-1957)

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