Clothes made from stretch material have more merits than you’ve fingers to count. Comfortable, adaptable, and easy-to-wear, they’re a wardrobe staple for most of us. Unfortunately, when a stretch material rips, tears, or frays, it can be a pain to fix. A plain darning job that would work wonders on a non-stretch material simply doesn’t cut the mustard when it comes to stretchy fabrics.
Bad news over, on to the good news. While repairing a hole in stretch fabric requires a different approach to the one you’d normally use, it’s not an impossible task. As we’ll soon see, a hole can be repaired and concealed in just a few short steps... all you need is a little know-how and a few tricks of the trade. (Related topic: how to resize bikini bottoms)
If you’ve noticed a sudden, unwelcome development in your favorite piece of spandex clothing, don’t panic. Despite being made of stern stuff, spandex can, and does, occasionally tear. Before you consign it to the scrap heap, why not try a repair instead? Providing there’s still more material than there is hole, you should be able to get things looking ship-shape and shiny in no time.
The best and easiest way to fix a hole in spandex is with this easy sew-on patch method.
What You’ll Need
Take the spare spandex material and cut out a patch that’s around ¼ inch bigger in diameter than the hole. Place the patch over the hole and pin in place.
Use a zig-zag stitch to sew the patch in place. If the hole is large, sew around the parameter of the patch several times to prevent it from fraying. If the hole is small, you can run over the whole thing several times from different directions. Cut away any excess spandex to finish.
Tip: If you have an old, unwanted spandex garment going spare, salvage it for the repair. Otherwise, you’ll need to invest in a small sample of spandex of the same type and color as the garment itself.
Sewing elastic material is no easy business. More often than not, a small hole in a swimsuit spells the end of its useful life. But before you consign your swimmers to the trash can, take a second to consider whether they can be saved. Unless they’re more hole than material, the answer is usually a very big “yes”.
What You’ll Need
Take the old swimsuit/ fabric and cut out a patch about 1 inch in diameter bigger than the hole.
Flip the swimsuit to be repaired inside out and spread a thin ring of fabric adhesive around the hole. Fix the patch to the adhesive and leave to dry as per the instructions on the adhesive.
Finish the repair by darning around the edges of the patch.
Tip: If you’ve got an old swimsuit going spare, put the material to good use with this easy step by step process (if you haven’t, you might need to consider buying a small sample of fabric instead).
Whoever decided to add spandex to jeans was clearly something of a genius. Comfortable, soft and with just the right amount of “give”, stretchy jeans are a wardrobe basic for most of us, and for very good reason.
Great though they are, stretchy jeans have got one downfall: durability. Compared to jeans made from 100% cotton twill weave denim, stretchy jeans tend to wear out much more quickly in the spots that experience the most friction (with the inner thigh being one of the most common areas).
Fortunately, you don’t have to throw your old favorites away as soon as the denim starts to “ripen”. While fixing a hole in stretch jeans with a simple darning job is rarely successful, there’s another way to extend their life: patching.
In the world of patching, like generally goes with like (silk with silk, wool with wool, cotton with cotton). You’d have assumed, then, that when it comes to patching stretch denim jeans, you’ll need to make the patch from denim with a similar amount of stretch as the jeans themselves. As it turns out, this isn’t strictly true. If the hole to be mended is in an area that receives a lot of wear (the inner thigh, knees, seat, etc.), a non-stretch denim (which comes with that extra bit of durability that stretch denim sometimes lacks) can work just as well, providing you use the right type of stitch (more on which coming up).
First up, let’s take a look at how to repair a hole with stretchy denim. If you have any leftover denim from making alterations to the busted pair of jeans, this is ideal. Otherwise, source out denim in a similar color and with a similar stretch to the busted pair.
What You’ll Need
Step 1 – Make the Patch
Cut out a piece of denim large and wide enough to cover the hole. Pin the patch around the perimeter.
Step 2 – Thread the Needle
Double thread a needle (if you find this difficult, coating the thread with beeswax first will make it a breeze). Push the needle through the patch from back to front (don’t push the needle through the jeans on the first stitch as the knot will end up rubbing against your skin).
Step 3 – Sew the Patch
Using a simple whip stitch, sew around the full perimeter of the patch about 1/8 inches from the edge, using small, neat stitches spaced 1/8 inches (or less) apart. On the final stitch, pull the needle out between the patch and jeans and knot the two sides of thread together several times to secure.
Step 4- Reinforce
Using a fast running stitch, sew all the way around the perimeter of the patch again. This will reinforce the patch and minimize any chance of the hole making a re-appearance. Finish by teeing off the thread and snipping the loose ends.
Tip: You might find it cheaper and easier to buy an inexpensive pair of jeans to use for the repair material than sourcing out a roll of fabric.
The art of patching jeans with non-stretch denim is very similar to the method used previously- with some small, but crucial, differences.
What You’ll Need
Step 1 – Make the Patch
Cut out a square piece of denim a little bigger in circumference than the hole. Fold the raw edges down and snip off the tips of the corners where they overlap (this will reduce their bulky appearance). Refold the edges and press with an iron to give a crisp edge. Pin the patch to the jeans to secure in place.
Tip: If you want the patch to be super-clean around the edges, you might want to use a different option to the “fold and press” method mentioned above. If you have a sewing machine, try sewing a zig-zag stitch on a short stitch to seal. If you’re happy for the patch to stand out, use a contrasting color thread. If you’d rather it blends into the background, choose a thread in a color that matches the patch. Make the stitch extra short if you want the patch to really stand out, and add a topstitching thread for a big ’n’ bold look.
Step 2 – Set Your Machine
Choosing the right stitch (and even more importantly, the right stitch length) to sew non-stretch denim onto stretch denim is crucial. Choose the wrong stitch and the denim won’t stretch and recover in the way it should. Set your machine to a very narrow zig-zag stitch set to a stitch length of about a 3 for the best results.
Tip: Don’t be tempted to use a denim or non-universal needle, as these can cut the jean’s stretch fibers. Use a universal or ballpoint needle only.
Step 3 – Sew
If you’re using a sewing machine, stitch all around the perimeter of the patch. If you’re sewing by hand, choose the smallest needle you have that’s still strong enough to push through two layers of denim and sew using a simple whip stitch.
Tip: A simple whip stitch is probably the easiest and most intuitive of all the stitches, using as it does a simple up, over, down, and back up motion. Even if you think you’ve never used it before, you probably have – it’s the type we’ll all use if we just grabbed a thread and started sewing without thinking about stitch types.
Step 4 – Reinforce
Use a fast running stitch to sew along the edges. Tie off the threads and snip any loose ends to finish.
Tip: This is an optional step, but it’s worth the extra effort for areas that see a lot of wear.
If you’re patching jeans, it’s tempting to skip the sewing and simply glue or fuse the patch in place with fusible bonding web. While this is a lot quicker and easier than sewing, resist the urge. Not only do glued or fused patches tend to peel off after enough washes, they simply don’t work on stretch denim. Unless you want your patch to end up with a puckered, ugly aesthetic, stick to sewing.
Leggings might be comfortable, practical, and warm, but they’re also incredibly prone to tears, holes, and fraying. Before you throw your holey leggings away with the trash, why not breathe some new life into them with an easy repair job?
Turn the leggings inside out to reveal the seams. Nine times out of ten, the hole will be on the inside seam. If this is the case, serge up from the bottom of one leg, along the crotch, and all the way down the other leg. As you’re simply following the original seam, you’ll only need to remove around a ¼ inch of the fabric from the inside to create a new seam and cover the hole.
To remove the serger tails hanging from the bottoms of the feet, knot the tails as close as possible to the edge of the fabric before threading the tail into a needle. Backstitch through the existing serger stitches by around an inch. Trim any remaining tail to finish.
Tip: Once you reach the holey or frayed part of the leggings, serge inward until you reach the unaffected material and then cut away the unwanted excess.
Set the sewing machine to either a zig-zag stitch or a triple straight stitch.
Starting about an inch before the ripped or frayed area, sew along the seam to about a ¼ inch beyond the worn area, before sewing back down to the seam.
Tip: Avoid using a regular straight stitch as they don’t have enough give to be used on stretchy fabrics, and will pop out as soon as the fabric stretches.
Cut a piece of thread measuring about 10 inches more than you think you’ll need. This will make sure you don’t run out of thread midway through the project. Run the thread through beeswax to make it easier to thread before tying off the end.
Turn the leggings inside out to expose the seams. If the hole is along the seam, use your fingers to pinch the fabric together and stitch along the original seam line.
Tip: Use a thin needle and a thread in the same color as the leggings for seamless results.
Repairing stretchy material might seem a challenge, but as we’ve learned, it’s one that’s easily mastered. Hopefully, you’ll take away enough hints and tips from today’s post to turn your next repair into a piece of cake. If you know of anyone else who stands to do the same, please feel free to share.