May 6

Rips & Tears

One of the most common repairs in clothing is rips and tears, especially in pant seats. This one was a little different, as it was to the front of a leg on some coveralls, but the procedure is the same.

Achieving a patch that hides well can take a bit of practice, but these instructions should help you achieve it much more quickly, especially if you follow the lines of threads in the garment.


Tear in coveralls
Iron tear flat


Choosing Patching fabric:

I keep a bin of cut offs from hemming jobs and choose the closest in color or color tone, stretch, etc. The right color or tone insures the best blending to the eye of old and new fabric. The beige fabric in the above repair was chosen on purpose for visibility.

Choosing the Right Thread:

To ensure the best blending, choose a color similar to the garment and one shade darker.

Securing the Patch:

Using a water soluble glue (same solid stick used in kid’s crafts), glue the patch to the back side of the garment. Whether the patch is first secured with straight stitching or zig-zag is determined by the type of fabric. For fabric with little or no stretch, use a straight stitch, but for jeans, knits – anything with stretch – use a zig zag stitch, otherwise the repair will either tear or stitches will break when the clothing is put to use. Stitch around the tear about a 1/2 inch  away, then another line of stitching close to the tear.


Back with supporting fabric
Back with supporting fabric


Glue patch down with water soluble glue
Glue patch down with water soluble glue


Filling In:

Once the patch has been secured, examine the direction of the threads in the garment and follow those lines as as you straight stitch forwards and backwards. How much you fill in determined by the garment’s fabric and the look you want to achieve. Some blend in easily, while others require more effort. A fabric that has variations in color, like many denims, will fill in easier than a solid tone. You can also purchase threads that have different tones of the same color within the spool (variegated) which help tremendously in blending.


Stitch around the tear to secure patch and fill in the area (if warranted)
Stitch around the tear to secure patch and fill in the area (if warranted)

The picture immediately above shows the repair in various stages of filling in. The left area is almost completely filled in, while the right area showing the tan backing fabric has simply been stitched around. The latter would be the typical minimal repair, while a full fill in (left) is more expensive, but can be done is such a way to make the repair almost unnoticeable.

I say to fill in the area – if warranted – as each client’s needs are different, and so is the piece of clothing. These coveralls didn’t warrant the extra labour involved in filling in the repair, as the customer wanted it fixed as inexpensively as possible. However, I chose to do a more elaborate repair, and only charge the client for a basic repair, in order to have some pictures for this tutorial.

Another example:

The repair on these jeans is a bit different as the client simply wants the hole filled in while showing a contrasting backing fabric, and keeping the frayed edges of the holes. The procedure was very simple: glue garment to patch and zig-zag around.

Viewable patches
Viewable patches
repaired tear
Patched with contrasting fabric and zig-zagged around

Please let me know if anything is unclear, or if there are other tutorials you’d like to see. I’d also love to hear  your sewing stories, how my tutorials help, or any other comments you have to offer. :)

Happy mending!

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Posted May 6, 2014 by Angela Trenholm in category "Clothing Care & Repair

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