Basics + Techniques | Sewing

Mending Holes in Jeans

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Somewhere along the way you are going to rip or tear a favorite garment. And, if you live in Newfoundland sometimes Mending Holes in Jeans {or any type of garment} becomes a necessary skill.

Mending Holes in Jeans Pin

When we were in Newfoundland   Mr. B asked me if I could fix a tear in his favorite pair of Eddie Bauer cargo pants. For most of us, getting a tear in a pair on pants would mean ordering a new pair of pants and moving on. However, if you live in a very small town on the absolute edge of North America, that might not be possible.

Here’s what we have. A weak spot in the fabric gave way to a tear which pulled away from a very well-sewn seam. This type of tearing happens all of the time on seams with double stitching. The seam holds, but the fabric gives way and makes a tear.


That means there is no fabric that I can pull into the seam. Since I lack any sort of magical fabric-cloning skills and I have no fabric fairy dust, I am forced to take other measures. What this repair needs is an old fashioned patch. However, notice the location of the tear. Some sort of cute, stand-out fabric patch is going to be ~ well, let’s just say it ~ vulgar. This repair requires fabric that is a perfect match. I am going to have to rob a piece of fabric from somewhere on these pants in order to create a patch.

The last thing I want to do is cut a patch that is too small. First, I measure the size of the tear. That way I can look for places like pockets and hems to find enough fabric for this patch.

measuring hole

I have decided to try robbing from the underside of the pocket flap. There is just enough fabric on the inside to make a decent patch. Another option would’ve been to take fabric from the back of the pocket. Even after repairing this it still would’ve left a weak spot in the pocket. Since phones and wallets are likely to be in the pocket, I didn’t want to weaken it in any way. The pocket flap seemed like the best option.

measuring patch
drawing patch

I measured, marked, and cut out the patch. I had hoped to get 2″ x 2″, but had to settle for 2″ x 1.5″. Notice the brass snap. Trying to avoid getting close to the snap was also a huge challenge.

cutting patch

Cutting out a patch meant I now had two areas to repair. For the inside of the pocket flap I decided to use one of those iron-on patches. I cut it slightly larger than the patch because it was going to only get ironed on and straight stitched down.

cutting second patch

Next, I positioned the patch over the newly made hole and pinned it in place. It’s really hard to tell, but the iron-on patch barely covers the opening.

pinning patch to pocket

Next, I ironed the pocket flap patch according to the package directions.

ironing on patch

Most of the iron-on patches really don’t require any additional stitching. However, they have a tendency to pull away and I wanted to make the pocket flap not look so much like a repair job, so I went with a straight stitch hoping to make it look like there was some sort of tag on the other side. With these types of repairs, you can only do so much, but it is always worth the effort to try and make the repair look as good as possible.

The biggest challenge here was that darn brass snap. I had to rip out my stitches here and there in order to get the patch stitched down.

sewing pocket patch
finished pocket patch
inside finished pocket patch

On to the real reason these pants need mending. The challenge here is making the patch look natural while still making it strong enough to hold together until the next time Mr. B is able to buy a new pair of pants. I originally thought about adding a woven interfacing to this patch, but I felt like the patch might be too stiff and look unnatural. The idea here is try and make it as natural as possible.

I pinned the patch to the pants. Keep in mind this is a small area next to a heavy seam and my matching fabric patch is pretty small. There was some adjusting in order to get it on there. In most cases I would trim away the frayed fabric. However, this is such a delicate patch I decided to keep it and sew into it, hoping it would help with the fabric blending.

pin patch to hole

You know there is no such thing as a thread color called Son-in-LawFaded Loden Cargo Pants. Who knew that finding thread would be the biggest challenge here. Think about it, if the thread is too dark or too light, the patch will look ridiculous.

Sometimes I think the Thread Fairies plant magical thread spools in my thread box. How I had a spool of matching thread is beyond me, but there it was nestled amongst a sea of teal, emerald, and mint green threads. A perfect match.

I put my Open Toe Foot on the machine in order to see exactly where I was stitching. I used a fairly open zigzag stitch and made sure I caught both fabrics.

sewing patch

I tried to keep the repair as subtle as possible. This is the result. I trimmed away some of the frayed threads.

finished patch

It’s still a little noticeable, but better than a hole. And, once Mr. B has on a t-shirt and sweater it will be hardly noticeable. Plus, knowing how remote things are in Newfoundland, I suspect lots and lots of folks have to patch and repair their clothes.

mended jeans

I’ve created a Pinable image for those of you who like to pin things.

Mending Holes in Jeans Pin

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  1. Wow-I wish I learned this about a year ago. My boys always seem to come to me with repairs like this and I did not know what to do. Most of the time I would just trash them. No more now!!! Thanks for sharing!

  2. That was a good idea to leave the original frayed threads on there! After the pants have been through the wash a few times anything that’s still showing can carefully be trimmed away. And the pocket flap patch stitching just looks like there’s a piece of Velcro under there!! I couldn’t tell you how many times I have spent the gas money looking and looking for the right color thread only to come home empty-handed and then find it in my own stash! I guess it’s a universal thing! Thanks for the tutorial – there’s still always stuff to still be learned.

  3. Until recently, I’d never seen a tear like this one. It really shouldn’t be a fatigue point. Unfortunately, The boys aren’t wearing their pants as high as they should (even the ones who don’t have their boxers hanging out of the top!) and I am having to deal with the same problem for my son who has to squat down for work…he is constantly tearing the crotch of his work pants. Threw away the first pair as a lost cause, but refused to do it again, so I figured out something similar. I even reinforced with denim on the inside. My other son, who doesn’t live at home any longer, keeps destroying his jeans doing the same, but won’t being them to be repaired. It seems like such a waste.

  4. I appreciate the information about sourcing a matching patch from the garment. This is something I’ve never thought of! I will be subscribing to your e-mail updates. I don’t know much about garment or household sewing, but it’s always a good time to learn!

  5. Excellent tutorial! If your thread match is close enough you can also duplicate the diagonal weave of the fabric with some careful back and forth straight stitching. I’ve been doing this with blue jean repairs for awhile now and if the thread is a good match the diagonal stitching makes the original repair disappear into the fabric. Try it on denim or khaki scraps to nail the technique. It’s totally worth it!

  6. I am so happy I found this repair tutorial! That is the exact place my son constantly tears his pants out. All he wears is this type of cargo pants or shorts and I have tried other ways, but was never successful. Also, as I made a resolution over 3 years ago to only buy my own clothing from thrift stores, I am always on the look out on ways to expand and lengthen the use of houshold members clothes. Thank you!

  7. Great! I do this type of repair all the time with my children (grown children) and they don’t seem to mind that it looks like a patch. They don’t want to give up the favorite, broken in, pair of jeans. I do try to keep the thread and patching fabric matching the garment as much as possible. I swear, my son had me do so many patches on the seat of one of his pair of jeans that I finally just took them and then threw them away. I was embarrassed to be seen with him wearing that patched pair.

  8. I have been repairing clothing for many years. I remember as a teenager fixing my older brother’s jeans, I accidentally sewed the tip of the front pocket into the crotch seam that I’d repaired. He wore them that way all day at work and then brought them to me saying, “These just don’t feel right anymore!!” I had sewed and resewed the seam so many times for a strong repair I wound up cutting off the pocket and sewing it closed. But in all these years (35+) I’ve never thought to “rob” matching material from the clothing itself! Thanks for the tip!!

  9. Something that I do with the patch that I am going to use on the rip/tear, etc. is that I serge around all edges before I use the patch. That eliminates any raveling of the patch on the inside of the garment. I, too, have a son that rips out his pants at the crotch when he squats down so I am familiar with this kind of repair work.

  10. I am so glad I found this! My husband just ripped an almost new pair of jeans at work recently and we thought they were a lost cause as it ripped where the fabirc separated next to the seam from just below the zipper into the crotch. We new there was no way to fix the seam and it be durable and weren’t sure how to go about patching it in a non-obvious way that would not make them uncomfortable to wear. This should do wonderfully! Thank you so much for posting it!

    1. I’m glad this tutorial helped. It seems like such a waste to toss something that can be repaired.

      1. Thanks for the suggestion. I’m okay with the material for the patches (I just use pieces of jeans that are too worn to repair). My problem is with trying to sew them in place using my sewing machine. I want zigzag stitching to make them secure and tough enough for a very active little boy. The only way I know of to do it is to wiggle my way into the pant leg from above, the way my mother used to. I keep thinking someone will invent a small sewing machine to do this, but the mending machines I’ve seen are not recommended for heavy fabrics (and they’re not small enough anyway). I use iron-on adhesive to hold the patch in place while I stitch inside the leg. Not easy but it gets the job done.

        Thanks again for answering!!

        1. Turn the trouser leg inside out. Unpick the middle of the inside leg seam (easy with a seam ripper) so that you can access the patch with your machine. This should be a simple straight seam that is super easy to sew up after you have mended the hole. If it has been overlocked you can zig zag the edges of the fabric too.

  11. I take the torn jeans to a place such as the Salvation Army if I don`t have extra fabric. ( places such as this often have jeans that are too ragged to sell and will give away the pants for free ), I search the jeans for a closely colored faded spot and use it for patching.

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