Mending jeans doesn’t have to be a chore with these fast and easy hand-sewing techniques to repair holes, tears, and wear.
I hate to throw away clothes.
Sometimes I will use clothes I don’t wear very often to make something completely new. But other times you already have the perfect garment and it inevitably gets worn out.
Whenever I find the perfect pair of jeans that fit just right and are super comfortable it seems like they wear out in no time, especially in the crotch area.
This problem seems to affect just about everyone who wears jeans. My husband and I both have old jeans with damage to the inner thigh. This is one of the most common places jeans get damaged. It is also a tricky area to repair.
Using a couple of simple hand sewing techniques I repaired both pairs of jeans quickly and easily with just a few items.
Let me show you how!
Mending torn jeans
I grabbed my husband’s jeans first to fix. Overall, his jeans are still in great shape. The only damage was a tear right next to the seam in the crotch.
Because this was a clean line and the fabric was still strong on either side, this was an easy fix with just one sewing technique.
What you’ll need
All you need to fix a straight tear or cut is a needle and thread. The closer the thread is to the color of your main fabric, the less noticeable the final repair will be.
I had some cotton thread very nearly the color of the pair of jeans I was repairing that worked perfectly.
The sewing technique
There are a lot of different stitches you can use to sew a hole shut. The whip stitch or slip stitch are very common choices.
There is a different stitch that is my personal favorite for fixing clean cuts and tears in fabric when you want to join two edges together neatly. The stitches are visible with this technique, but it doesn’t distort the fabric as much as other repair methods.
I have looked all over and cannot find a name for this stitch. I personally refer to it as a Frankenstein stitch since it looks like the stitches Dr. Frankenstein used when sewing together his monster. If you know the actual name of this stitch, please let me know in the comments below!
This stitch makes a figure eight through the gap in the fabric to pull the edges together without changing the shape of the fabric. Because it encases the raw edges it also prevents further fraying.
To make this stitch, the needle will go down through the tear from one side, then back up through the fabric.
Then the needle changes direction and goes back down through the tear from the other direction and back up through the other side of the fabric.
This is repeated through the full length of the tear.
Sewing the jeans
If there are a lot of loose threads around the hole you will be mending, go ahead and trim those off before you start to sew.
Using a doubled-up length of thread I threaded the needle with the two loose ends. This creates a loop at the other end of the thread that can be used to anchor the stitches at the beginning without a knot.
Note: if you are using a thick thread don’t worry about doubling it up.
With the end of the thread secure use the Frankenstein stitch to close the tear. The needle should go through the tear with every stitch.
At the end of the row of stitches, I did a few back stitches right on top of each other to secure the other end. Since I was right on top of the seam with multiple fabric layers I used the needle to bury the end of the thread in this seam then trimmed it.
If you don’t have a place to hide the end of your thread, you can run it under the stitches you sewed before trimming.
The tear is gone!
Although this isn’t a totally invisible stitch, the final result is secure and barely noticeable.
This method of mending jeans is incredibly fast. Even if this is your first time sewing this stitch, you could fix a tear in under an hour.
Mending jeans with crotch holes and wear
My own jeans were up next. These had a lot more all-over wear than the first pair of jeans. Both inner thighs were worn thin and threadbare. There were several holes starting to form as well.
Because the fabric was weak these jeans would need some sort of patching to be able to keep wearing them.
I wanted to patch these quickly, without adding too much extra bulk or stitching that would be uncomfortable to wear.
What you’ll need
The repairs for this pair of jeans need a few more materials than before.
You will of course still need a needle and sewing thread. The closer the color of your thread is to the color of the jeans the more invisible the repair will be.
You will also need a piece of fabric to make your patches. I used some leftover quilting cotton from making my husband’s DnD dice bag.
If you want to make matching patches, some paper for pattern making can be useful, but not required.
The first step to patching your jeans is to make patches. If you are repairing one hole, or reinforcing a worn-out part of your pants, you can just go ahead and cut out whatever shape you need to cover that particular area directly from your fabric.
Since I needed to repair both sides of the crotch on these jeans I decided to cut out matching teardrop shapes.
Note: Whatever shape you choose make sure the edges will reach a part of the original garment that is not worn so you have sturdy fabric to sew onto.
Using a piece of folded paper I sketched out half of the shape I wanted with the folded edge in the middle of the shape. After cutting out the shape (using craft scissors, not fabric scissors) with the paper still folded, I had a perfectly symmetrical pattern piece.
I used this pattern to cut out two patches for my jeans.
The sewing technique – herringbone stitch
The stitch I chose to use to attach my patches is the herringbone stitch. This stitch is great for holding fabric flat, keeping edges from fraying, and is barely visible from the outside.
To sew the herringbone stitch start by making a small stitch going right to left. This stitch should be just below the center of the stitch line.
Then make a second small stitch to the right of the first, above the center of the stitch line. You should have a diagonal line going across the stitch line.
Note: The direction you work the needle is opposite of the direction the stitch moves.
Continue making stitches on alternating sides of the stitch line to create a zigzag stitch with a small loop at each point. Most of the thread will show on the side of the work you are sewing from, the back side will only show small stitches.
Pin the patch in place
I placed the first patch on the inside of the jeans over the whole area that needed to be patched with the right side of the fabric facing down. Then I carefully pinned the patch down, keeping it as flat as possible to the jeans.
At first, I only used a couple of pins in the middle and around the edge. To get access to the part of the leg where I wanted to sew a patch I had to scrunch up the fabric a lot. This caused the fabric to move around. I ended up adding a lot more pins to keep everything secure.
Note: I do not recommend trying on your jeans when they are full of pins.
Sew around the patch
Using doubled-over thread secured the same way as the first pair of jeans I used the herringbone stitch all the way around the edge of the patch. I was careful to keep the two layers of fabric as flat as possible so the patch would lay nicely in the end.
Secure the middle
After the edges of the patch were secure I went across the middle of the patch with the herringbone stitch. Since this patch crosses the large seam on the inside of the thigh, I worked this herringbone stitch over that seam for extra strength. Securing the middle of the patch will keep the two layers of fabric from separating and bunching while I wear my jeans.
I thought about adding more stitching in the middle of the patch to help secure it even more, but the fabric is so thin in places I didn’t think stitches in that area would last long.
I repeated this same process to patch the other side of the jeans.
Ready to wear!
From the outside, the repair work is nearly invisible. The thread I was using matched the color of the jeans. If you use thread that doesn’t match the stitching will be more visible.
As these jeans wear out more, the fabric I used to patch the inside will show more and more. I picked a contrasting fabric just for fun. If you don’t want the patch to be noticeable, make matching denim patches instead.
Try it out!
These techniques for mending jeans are a great way to save your favorite jeans, but they can also be used to repair other items.
My husband is a cook and is constantly damaging his work aprons. I have repaired his favorite one with the same Frankenstein stitch I used to fix his jeans.
Patches can be used anywhere you have fabric worn thin. My method is great for reinforcing without too much visible mending. It’s great for clothing, but you can also use it for household textiles like tablecloths.
The next time you are about to throw away your favorite pair of jeans I hope you give these mending techniques a try!
If you want to see more sewing projects, click here.
What is your go-to mending technique? Let me know in the comments below!