Here’s how to patch up that old pair of ripped jeans

Image of patched jeans
Elysa/Staff

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I don’t know about you, but I’m kind of over the whole ripped jeans style. I have a few pairs, but whenever I wear them, I always just feel sad about how cold my knees feel. When I sit, the little strings stretching across the hole cut into my skin. All around, ripped jeans are not great vibes. Now that I’ve exposed myself as a grandma, I feel totally comfortable saying that instead of throwing out my ripped jeans, I patched them with colorful fabric. While I didn’t go into this project with a concrete plan, it still turned out great. All I needed was some spare fabric and a sewing needle. Follow along on my pant-patching journey, and maybe try it yourself!

Fabric

First, I picked out the fabric I wanted to use. Luckily, I happened to have some super old quilting squares laying around. If you want, you could totally go to a fabric store and purchase some, but because you really don’t need a lot of material, it’s best to look in some other places first. If you have some fabric left over from a cropped shirt or a floral skirt that you really don’t wear anymore, this is a great way to repurpose that fabric. You can even use material from an old tablecloth or pillowcase. Whatever you choose to work with, cut out a chunk of the fabric to a size slightly bigger than the hole you want to cover.

Pants preparation

If you’re anything like me, you have multiple pairs of pants with rips on them (high school me really went off). You might have several ripped jeans to pick from, so it’s best to start with the simplest pair. Though I had a couple of contenders, I decided to go with a pair of jeans that just had two knee holes. To prepare the jeans, I cut away most of the white frayed parts, while still leaving a frayed edge. Feel free to leave more of the wispy strings if you’re going for a rugged style.

The sewing

To actually sew the patches on, I turned the pants inside out and placed the fabric over the hole that I wanted to cover. You could totally use a sewing machine if you have one, but I used a needle and some white thread. Making sure that the right side of the fabric will be facing outwards, I stitched the fabric to the hole, not worrying too much about making the neatest stitches. It’s okay if the thread is a bit visible — that’s just part of the thrifty style. However, if you are hand sewing, make sure to make your stitches small and tight enough that the pants will be able to go through the wash without falling apart. 

Almost finished

Now that you’ve done the actual sewing, turn the pants right side out and try them on to see how they look. It’s important to make sure you didn’t sew too tight, and that you can still bend your knees comfortably without ripping the stitches out. At this stage, you can cut away more of the white thread, or add some embroidery floss to really exaggerate the patched part of the jeans. Definitely give the patches a few tugs to make sure they’re secure, especially if you were sewing on frayed material. If you’re feeling really festive, you could sew extra patches around other parts of the pants with any leftover material. It could be fun to make patterned belt loops or any other creative ideas you might have.

That’s it! Now all that’s left to do is have yourself a little self-timer photoshoot in your jazzed-up pants. Seriously, this project was super easy and fun, and it costs nothing assuming you’re reusing old fabric. Try it out!

Contact Elysa Dombro at [email protected].