Basic Clothing Tear Repair
You find your favorite shirt has a hole in it. What now? During shelter-in-place you may not get the chance to go to a store to buy new clothes, and with financial instability it might not be an option. Luckily, there is a time-tested fix for fabric wear-and-tear: hand sewing! All you need is a needle and thread for most repairs, but if you want to try a few other methods with some extra materials- like patches- we’ll cover that too.
Before starting, be sure to choose the correct thread and needle. The color of your thread typically should match the color of the garment you are patching up, unless you want to go for a more unique contrasting look. As for the needle, thicker, heavier fabrics such as denim, leather, and layered-fabric will require a thicker needle with a sharper end to ensure that they can be pierced. When you have lighter fabrics such as silk and nylon, you want to go with a thinner needle so it does not damage the quality of the fabric. Choosing the right needle is also important to determine how much effort is needed when pushing the needle. In cases where you are working with heavier, thicker fabrics, using the wrong needle can result in the needle bending or overall just breaking on you.
Step One: Assess the Damage
How large is the hole? How long is the tear? What type of fabric is the garment? What color is the thread? Where is the damage located? All these factors play a part in how you approach repair. Take note of the details so you can handle the situation as best as possible.
Step Two: Using the Right Approach
Due to the many different types of fabrics out there, some methods work better than others on certain fabrics. For example, hand sewing tends to work best with lighter fabrics such as nylon and silk while patches work best for thicker fabrics like canvas and leather.
Step Three: Get to work
After you have assessed the damage and chosen the right approach, choose one our methods listed below and get to work!
General hand sewing for small holes
- Thread your needle with enough thread to cover the hole. To thread your needle, simply pass the thread through the eye of the needle and then tie the two loose ends together.
- Flip your garment inside out.
- Pinch the two ends of the hole together and use your needle to latch onto the fibers of the fabrics. Pass the needle with the thread completely through the first pass and keep working at connecting the two ends of the fabrics until the hole is completely gone. Then, create a loop as if you were going to thread the garment one last time and pass your needle through the loop. Snip off the thread from the needle.
- You should be good to go!
Handling split seams
- Split seams tend to be easier to repair than patching up tiny holes found in a shirt or sweatshirt. In case you are wondering, a split seam is where two fabrics of the garment stitch together.
- Once you identify that it is a split seam, flip the garment inside out. Then, iron the split seam to remove any wrinkles so that you do not stitch a fold in the fabric and create more work for yourself.
- Identify where the seam line is. Then, thread the needle as you would normally when hand sewing (measure the thread and tie a knot at the end as you typically would when hand sewing). Sew along the seam line so that you patch the hole/split seam. Overlap the original seam line a few times to really build a foundation for your thread.
- Work your way up and and go from one side of the garment to the other side of the garment. When you approach the torn fabric, also ensure the needle goes straight across from side to side.
- Once you have sewn the two sides of the garment together to end the hole, do a couple more stitches on the original seam. Then, when you approach the end of the thread, create a loop and push your needle through it. Tighten the thread as much as you can and then snip any excess thread off.
Patching holes using fusible bonding web
- As a precautionary note before beginning, be aware that using this method will result in the leftover of a stabilizer showing on the inside of your garment.
- Iron the garment when it is flipped inside out to flatten it out as much as possible.
- Cut a small square of fusible bonding web, a little over what will be needed to cover the area where the hole is.
- An optional, but beneficial, step is to keep parchment paper under the garment and fusible bonding web. This will keep the adhesiveness of the fusible bonding web from leaving any residue on an ironing board or surface underneath where the garment lies.
- Iron over the fusible bonding web.
- Then, flip the garment rightside up so that the part that would be showing when you wear it showing.
- Press the two small ends of the fabric from where the hole is together so that they connect. Try to get them as close together as possible without creating too much wrinkle.
Patching holes using an iron-on patch
- As a precautionary note before beginning, this method tends to work as a better solution when you have average to heavier fabrics. It will require you to have a patch ready to spare.
- Take your iron-on patch and place it over the hole.
- Place enough heat so that the patch binds to the fabric.
- An optional, but recommended, step is to sew around the edges of the patch using a color that is similar to the patch, unless you do not mind a unique, contrasting look. You will likely need a heavy needle for this.
- Thread your needle and follow the shape of the iron on patch, making sure to stick as close to the edges as possible. Also, this will help you in seeing areas where you might have to pass over the patch again to have it fully adhere.
Using mending glue for fabrics
- This method is typically recommended for tiny holes made in knit fabrics
- Flip your garment inside out.
- Apply a small dab of mending glue on the areas around the fabric.
- Flip the garment rightside up and begin to press the ends of the fabric together without distorting the shape of the garment.
- Let the glue adhere and from there that is essentially everything you have to do! The ends of the fabric should attach onto one another.