Jeans are tough, but they don’t last forever. If you have a hole from where the fabric has worn or a tear in your kid’s jeans, you don’t have to throw them away.
You can save money and minimise waste by making repairs yourself – it’s easy once you know how. We show you how to fix your ripped jeans to give them a whole new lease of life.
How to fix ripped jeans: repairing tears
Stitching a tear
This is the method to use if you have a small rip in your jeans, and just requires a needle and thread.
1. Snip off any long, frayed edges (you want a nice, tidy tear to work with).
2. Turn your jeans inside out.
3. Pinch the tear together so the torn edges are on the inside; this will help make the repair look more discreet.
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5. Take a needle and thread and sew the two edges of the tear together (keep the stitches as narrowly spaced as possible).
6. Trim off any excess material and thread.
7. Turn your jeans in the right way and then iron the area back into shape – this will also help seal the repair.
Darning a tear
You can also darn smaller rips. The mend will probably be noticeable but think of it as a design feature, adding a boho look to your jeans. If you want to keep the darning to a minimum, start repairs as soon as you notice a tear (don’t wait for it to get too big).
Decide whether you want the thread to be the same colour as your jeans, or something totally different to bring out the contrast. Remember to thread your needle with more thread than you think you’ll need (you don’t want to run out half way through the job).
Turn the jeans inside out and darn from the back.
Begin sewing at least a centimeter before the hole starts. You want to make a series of stitches that go straight over the rip, checking that you are going beyond the hole on the other side. Pull so the tread is taunt but not overly tight so that it bunches the fabric. (When you begin, it’s always wise just to make sure that you’re not inadvertently sewing through to the other side of the jeans – you don’t want to stitch them shut!)
Then cross the other way, weaving the needle between the perpendicular stitches so as to form a kind of net or web (go under the first stitch then over the next, repeating the pattern).
To finish off, weave through a few more times, or you can tie a knot with the last stitch.
How to fix ripped jeans: repairing holes
This is how to repair ripped jeans with a patch and a sewing machine, which is generally the case when the damage is too large to simply sew up. You can find denim repair kits that include a number of different-coloured patches in shops and online. (Tip: rather throw away your old jeans, keep them so you not only have a ready source of patches at hand, you’ll also save some money.)
What you’ll need
Depending on the method you are using, you’ll need a combination of these materials and tools:
Thread: choose a colour that matches your jeans as closely as possible (unless you want a deliberate contrast).
Fabric scissors for cutting thread and patches to size.
Iron-on fusible (webbing material that works like a glue when subjected to heat).
A denim swatch to match your jeans, or logo patch if going down that route. It’s always a good idea to measure the size of the hole so your patch is the right size (it will need to be bigger than the actual tear – see below).
A sewing machine, or needle if hand sewing (you can get ones that are specifically for use on denim). Top tip: have more than one needle on hand if undertaking a sizable repair as denim can dull needles in no time.
An iron and ironing board.
You may also need thick cardboard or heat-proof material that you can cut to size.
Method 1: Stitch on a denim patch using a sewing machine
Use this method if you want to hide the hole as best as possible.
1. Using the scissors, cut away fraying threads and trim the edges of the hole (cut spare threads back as much as possible as they will get in the way).
2. Turn your jeans inside out (that way the stitching will be less visible).
3. Cut the patch of denim to size. The patch needs to overlap the edges of the hole and any surrounding denim that looks as though it also might go by at least 2cm. This gives you plenty of room to work with and also helps to reinforce any weaker areas around the hole.
4. Place your jeans onto a flat, heat resistant surface, such as an ironing board.
5. Slide the jeans onto an ironing board as though it is wearing them – the idea is to separate the two sides of fabric so you can work on the top one without affecting the bottom one.
If the repair is on the leg or other part that is too small or awkward to fit the ironing board, cut a thick piece of cardboard and tuck it in the trouser leg under the hole.
6. Cut small pieces of fusible webbing (around half a centimeter in width) and line the edges of the hole, so they surround the opening. This will create a frame that makes the repair more sturdy, helping to fix the patch in place.
7. Lay your denim patch right side down over the hole and fusible.
8. Iron over the patch – keep the steam setting turned off and use a medium heat (or other setting recommended by the fusible manufacturer on the label).
9. Allow the patch and jeans to cool so it sets into place.
10. Now it’s time to sew. Stitch over the edges of the hole, using a sewing machine with a zigzag pattern that covers both the jeans and the patch. Go slow, or risk breaking the needle.
11. Ensure you go over the same areas more than once, overlapping previous stitches to prevent the thread from coming loose. We recommend overlapping the same area at least three times.
12. Trim any loose edges to neaten up your work. Now your jeans are ready to wear again!
Method 2: Hand stitch a logo patch
An alternative to trying to hide the hole is to make a feature out of it by using a distinctive patch that has a logo or pattern on it.
1. Using the scissors, cut away fraying threads and trim the edges of the hole.
2. Turn your jeans inside out.
3. Make sure your patch is big enough to cover the hole with room to spare.
4. Place the patch so it is on the outside (or face) of the jeans and then hand sew from inside the jean (that way the stitches won’t show).
5. Finish off by turning the jeans the right way in and ironing over the patch to ensure it’s flat and properly embedded.
How to fix ripped jeans: repairing seams
If you’ve a tear in the actual seam of your jeans you’ll need some basic sewing skills to mend it. (Meanwhile, if the zip on your jeans has gone, follow our guide on how to mend a broken zip.)
1. Try to match your mending thread to that of the seam on your jeans so that it won’t show (it may be denim, but often it can be black, white or gold).
2. Hand sew the tear, holding the edges together as tightly as possible. Match the stitching pattern on your jeans if you can. (Remember, the seam is usually thicker than the rest of the jeans, so bring a sturdy needle.)
3. Once done, use your scissors to cut off any stray threads.
4. Iron the seam to flatten out and to help seal the repair.
Can you fix ripped jeans without sewing?
If you don’t trust your sewing skills (or don’t want to deal with the hassle) you can buy fabric patches that simply iron on. As outlined above, remove any loose threads and turn your jeans inside out. Then position the patch over the hole and use a hot iron to seal into place (follow the patch manufacturer’s guide for exact timings). Nice and simple, but remember that an ironed patch probably won’t last as long as one that has been stitched on.
You can also buy special fabric glue that can be used to stick on a patch. Apply the glue to the edges of the patch, and then very carefully place that in position over the hole. (Make sure your jeans are inside out before you do this.) Leave to set for an hour or two (check the glue manufacturer’s directions for extract instructions and timings).
How do you make ripped jeans look new again?
You probably can’t make your jeans look like they are new, but you can fix them so that the repair barely shows – they will be wearable, if not totally immaculate. Washing jeans correctly will help keep them in tip top condition and looking newer for longer. Check out our guide on how to wash jeans for more.)
If your jeans get loose, out of shape or feel baggy, follow our step-by-step guide on how to shrink jeans.