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How to repair your old clothes

Rips or tears don't mean the end of the line for your favourite clothes. Find out how to sew on a patch and begin mending clothes at home.


Rensning af tæpper

Ripped your favourite jeans? Snagged your snazzy new jumper?  Sliced your smartest shirt? All is not lost – this simple guide to mending clothes will show you how to repair your old clothes, how to sew on a patch by hand and make your old clothes look brand new – or maybe even better!

Small tears or rips along a seam won’t require a patch – it should be possible to simply sew them closed with a needle and thread. A patch will only be necessary for mending clothes with larger holes or rips.

How to Sew on a Patch:

  • Turn the ripped garment inside-out and trim any frayed edges.

  • Select the fabric you would like to use to make the patch. Patches for clothes don’t necessarily need to match the colour and/or pattern of the garment – sometimes a colourful patch can revitalise a tired pair of jeans or a plain t-shirt!

  • Using fabric scissors, cut a small square that roughly corresponds to the size of the hole. It doesn’t need to be perfect, but make sure it covers the gap – after all, that’s the main function of the patch.

  • Select a thread. The colour will depend on the garment you’re repairing, and whether you want the patch to stand out.

  • Cut a length of thread around 30cm in length. Again, it doesn’t need to be exact.

  • Slightly wet the end of the thread, then thread it through the eye of a needle. Tie a double or triple knot in the end you have passed through the eye of the needle.

  • For most patches, a simple running stitch should suffice. Make sure the knotted thread is on the inside of the garment, then pass the needle through both patch and the garment fabric. Pull tight but not tight enough to break the thread, then repeat, passing the needle back through both fabrics. Each stitch should be several millimetres in length. Repeat until you have sewn around the hole completely.

  • When the needle is on the inside of the fabric, cut the thread and tie a double knot.

  • Using fabric scissors, trim any patch excess.

  • Turn the garment the right way around, and voila! Perfectly patched, and ready to wear!

How to Patch Jeans

This section contains a little advice about patches for jeans. The above method will work as well for jeans as any other material, but it is worth considering that jeans are made of much tougher fabric – a larger needle may be required. With jeans, it’s best to iron patches immediately after they have been affixed to minimise creases. While iron on patches are available (using a kind of fabric glue), sew on patches are cheaper and tend to last a lot longer – so it is well worth learning how to sew on a patch!

A rip or hole doesn’t have to mean the end of the road for your favourite clothes. Whether you opt for a repair job or a fashion-conscious twist, the humble patch can help to keep your wardrobe looking sharp, smart and quirky!


Take extra care when using sharp objects like scissors or needles. Always store your sewing supplies in a safe place, out of reach of children.

Originally published