Patching & Repairing Clothing
Berkeley Parents Network >
Household Management >
Patching & Repairing Clothing
Hi BPN Community,
I'm slowly trying to extricate my home and family from
monstrous clutter that is completely overwhelming. I'm
making progress which is great. One place I'm stuck though
and I wonder in anyone has any advice. Being on the end of
a long line of family hand-me-downs, I have a big mountain
of boys pants of all types (20ish pairs of jeans, sweat
pants, khakis, etc.)that have holes in them. I've tried
patching jeans with those iron-on patches to varying levels
of success. Are there such patches for other types of
pants, like sweat pants? If not, has anybody had success
with a non-labor intensive way of ''patching'' pants? If
not, should I give them to someone who would take the time
to patch them? Throw them away? Compost them? Any
suggestions would be much appreciated.
Need help with pants!
My boys tear the knees out of sweatpants constantly. I've
had pretty good luck cutting up a pair of sweats and using
it to patch other sweats (I cut a big rectangle and sew it
on seam-to-seam, so it looks more like a reinforced knee and
less like a patch). Sometimes I just hem them above the
hole and turn them into shorts. I've also chopped up old
sweats and turned them into other things - rags, a pillow
for the cat, patches on other items, etc. They don't wear
jeans, so I don't have much advice there - but patching them
with pieces cut from other old jeans would probably work
better than the iron-ons. Worn-out jeans can also be cut up
and re-purposed - I just saw a cool pillow today made with
strips of faded denim sewn together.
I congratulate your efforts to patch the pants. But if you
decide not to, there are places that recycle textiles. I
tried hard to find such a place without success, but both
Ace Hardware and CVS at Rose and Shattuck have bins for
taking used clothes and shoes. The sign on the bin doesn't
say explicitly that it recycles textiles in their lowest
form (i.e., turn clothes into textile fibers) but that could
be implied from their wording. I have deposited lots of
worn blue jeans in them. If anyone on this list has more
information about what this organization does, I'd be happy
to hear of it.
My husband and I disagree on whether it is still acceptable
to patch our seven year olds jeans with holes in the knees.
I think no one does this anymore because jeans are more or
less disposable/recyclable/donatable. My husband thinks
patches are still worth the trouble of ironing on. What do
We patch! Sometimes...
I get what you're saying because by the time jeans are torn chances are
they're almost too short to save, and plenty of ripped jeans have been
thrown out/turned to rags at our place.
But I've also patched a couple of pairs that tore ''early'' and my son loved
them. Did one pair with iron-on patches (for the tear) plus iron-on flames.
Hand-sewed another pair with old back pockets from a totally destroyed
pair jeans over the knees of the less beaten-up jeans. The hand-sewing
was a bit nuts but I just did a side or two over a week or so while
watching TV/listening to the radio. And my son (6.5) really likes them.
That said, it's still a bit of work. Is your husband planning on doing the
Call me cheap, but I do patch my son's jeans. He seems to
go through the knees very quickly and I can double (even
triple with repatching) their life if I patch them. I do
use the iron-on patches, but sometimes I can find some
other fun appliques that act as great patches.
We patch unless there is no more growing room. we also buy
used as much as possible. the environmental foot-print of
buying new all the time is just too high.
I still patch my own jeans if they are a pair I love and
want to keep around. To do this I use either an iron-on
patch or I sew on a similar (or contrasting, if you are
bold) fabric around the affected area. Of course, this now
brings the jeans down to ''wear around the house'' status. If
they've reached the point where they are worn with holes
they aren't suitable for public anymore. Eventually things
get beyond repair (or my knowledge and ability to repair
them) and when I hit that point, then I get rid of them.
Personally, I believe that it is just wasteful to throw
things away/give them away when you could use part of them
for something else or fix them. I have purchased
jeans/sweaters/shirts at stores before with minor holes in
them and shirts with buttons missing and repaired them
myself for a good deal.
I also darn socks (yes, even the white ones) even though I
know to buy a pack of 8 for $6. It just seems wasteful to me
to throw away things that you can extent the life of...
Please patch the jeans. It only takes a few minutes to do
and is much better than more landfill (recycling jeans is
very rare. Torn items that are donated are usually discarded.)
Just because things are so cheap now due to foreign labor,
it would be so great if people did not think of so many
things as disposable.
Thank you for asking the question.
I occasionally patch, but I find that the iron-on patches
come loose after 1-2 washes and need to be ironed on
again. Since I'm not a big fan of ironing, especially when
it comes to kids' jeans, I also watch for Old Navy's $10
jean sale (they just had one right after Christmas) and
stock up. That way, I don't feel bad about getting rid of
the jeans when they get holes in the knees. I save
patching for more expensive pants.
Yes, I patch my son's pants and jeans. If I didn't, we would
be buying pants all the time.
Patch them! Why create more waste and expense needlessly? I
have patched both my son's pants for several years (usually
by machine sewing, but iron-on works too) and found it very
worthwhile. No one ever looked askance at our patches, and
we live in a fairly affluent area. I was proud to model
resourcefulness, utility, and thrift.
p.s. if you sew, it works nicely to save a pair of outgrown
jeans and use them to cut future denim patches, that match.
Also, if you patch on the inside of the leg, (depending on
scratchiness and type of fabric) the patch is much less visible.
I do attempt to patch my son's torn pant knees--sometimes he
tears through them after only a few wearings, and because he
is so skinny, it's hard to find pants that fit him well.
However, I have found that the iron-on patches only extend
the lifetime of the pants a bit--usually, the pants soon
tear next to the patches. I've even tried preemptively
ironing on patches to the inside of the knee on new pants,
and that didn't help much either (and didn't look great,
since the fabric kind of puckered over the patch).
So, in conclusion, I think patching your kids' pants is
perfectly acceptable and will not lead to social ostracism;
however, it's not as helpful as you'd hope.
My kid has razor knees
I have 3 boys and I used to do patches back in the day when
I was a stay-at-home mom. Sure, why not patch them if you
have the time? One of my sons couldn't stand the texture of
a heavier patch, so it doesn't work for all kids. OTOH even
if your son won't wear patched pants, somebody else can get
some use out of them. Otherwise, they are just rags, and
denim doesn't make a good cleaning rag!
If you do patch, buy the heavy-duty iron-on patches that are
meant for jeans. Turn the pants inside out, and iron the
patches to the wrong side. Do both knees even if only one is
torn -- the other knee is not far behind, and anyway the
pants will look lopsided if you do only one. You can
machine-stitch around the edge of the patches to keep them
from curling up, which also makes the patch look more like
reinforcement than patch.
And then there is always the ''cut-offs'' option, although
they usually come out looking dorky even if you hem them,
since long pants are cut differently through the thigh than
short pants. My kids drew the line at cut-offs so I stopped
My current option, now that I am no longer a stay-at-home
mom with time to sew, is this: My local drycleaners does
repairs for not very much money. I've had them repair rips
in my husband's pants' belt loops and shirt pockets, and
they come out looking great. So, you might inquire at your
neighborhood cleaners how much they charge for a repair. It
might be cheaper than you think.
used to sew
I mend my son's torn jeans and patch the torn knees. I
don't subscribe to the notion that pants that are fine in
all other respects should be discarded - donated or
otherwise - just because they have a torn knee. I can't
afford to buy new jeans for my child every time he puts a
hole in them.
I patched my son's jeans whenever he wore a hole in them and he loved it! I hand
sewed them using patches made from his dad's old jeans and trousers. If you
use red or bright blue thread it makes it more fun too.
If you have the time to patch, it sounds like a great idea. We swap clothes
with friends but no one would ever swap torn clothes. If you don't want it
for your kids, your friends wouldn't want them either. And families in need
would prefer you not give them torn clothes either. So either throw them
away, cut them up for other purposes or patch them! Imagine how a kid
might feel knowing his family is in need and he receives torn clothing from
Fix it or recycle it
I guess it depends on what you care about. If it's that you
are sensitive to your child being different and you can
afford to buy new jeans, go buy new jeans. If it would help
more to save money than it would to have your child possibly
look different than others' children, patch his jeans. I
used to patch my clothes, jeans included before I had my
son. Now we both wear the holey jean look because of lack of
time to do things like patches. But I could care less what
other people are doing or what they think about how I dress
myself or my child.
patch if I had time to
I spent hours ironing on and then stitching by hand some
patches on my son's jeans (you can't just iron them on
because the child can easily rip them off).
It was not worth it. I'd rather just spend the 7 dollars at
target for new jeans.
It is really up to you, but I thought it was a waste of
time. You can use them for cleaning rags or other projects,
so you don't have to throw them away...
There are some very fashionable & expensive built-in
patched jeans that you can buy from places like Boden. I'd
say, if you're up for it, you should do it. I wouldn't put
one of those rectangle iron-on stiff patches-those were
awful even back in the old days--but if you can be
artistic/creative about it (eg turn it into a sort of
applique, patch with a nice color and decently
comfortable/soft fabric, put in a silhouette shape of
something the kid would like, like stars, hearts,
butterflies for girls, dinos, trucks, planes for boys),
you should do it!
I did not see the original post, but I had to laugh at the responses because
had a totally different take than I did. I don't patch, but I also don't buy
my son just wears the pants with the holes, I'm afraid. I buy double knees
still puts a hole in the first knee usually first day out in them. He swears
I think he does it on purpose. Then he works on getting through the second
layer. These are expensive pants for a fussy boy and so I just say
send him to school in them. Thank god for public school, I guess -- I never
thought it was odd to wear pants with holes until this advice column!
do try to save one good pair for holidays and the like.
Your ideas about patching were helpful but no way my kid would wear patched
pants -- he WANTS the holes.
Yes! I patch! Chinos rip really quickly, and we wore through
his favorite jeans pretty quickly. BUT, the patches come off
really quickly, so this is only a stop-gap measure!
One of the many snap buttons on a very nice baby jeans came off
after the first washing (before my daughter had even worn them
once!). Since it was a gift from overseas, no chance of
complaining/returning the item to the manufacturer.
How do I best fix it/get a similar snap button in place?
Tried to get the old snap button back in place, but the
little ''legs'' are bent, and the fabric in that area is 4 layers
thick, which is a challenge for probably any technique.
There are 8 in a row and they should look roughly the same (dark
blue-black ring on the outside), so taking a sew-on snap instead
also would look odd.
New ones probably are inserted with a special tool/machine and
come in larger quantiy sets, I assume...
Any advice? A store/alteration place that could help
I don't know if this will be useful for your situation, but one
time the snap came off of a 2nd hand Baby Bjorn carrier I had.
I took it to a shoe repair place and with a couple of dollars
and 5 minutes, it was repaired.
You can buy a kit for snaps in the notions department of any
fabric store or larger drugstore. They are under five dollars
and come with the little tool used for pressing a new barbed
side into the fabric. It's quite easy when you follow the
You can buy snap repair tool kits in many fabric shops or even in
Longs Drug (@ 51st/Broadway). Or for about the same amount of
money, take it to a shoe repair shop.
this page was last updated: Jun 10, 2014
BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are transitioning to a new website during
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2015 Berkeley Parents Network