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Make Do and Mend: Patching a Knee

I have been thinking of writing a series of posts on mending for a while.  Last year, I wrote about how to mend jeans with a rip in the rear… that really rolls off the tongue…. which was practical, but not at all stylish.

For those mending projects I don’t have a clue on- such as darning a sock or mending a sweater, I want to find an expert who will show me (and you) how.  If you think a series like this would be useful to you, let me know what mending jobs trouble you…

For the first in my series of Make Do and Mend, I was inspired by a friend:

Last spring, Amy of Diary of a Quilter shared a tutorial on how to mend a torn out knee.  I asked Amy if I could show her technique, which is cute as well as practical.  Amy told me that her daughter’s mended jeans are still going strong, the patch is perfectly in place, and they are one of her favorite pair.

Here’s how to mend a hole in the knee:

You’re going to need jeans with a hole in the knee, of course.

Iron on patches are widely available.  I picked these up a my local Walmart.  If you’ve ever used these before, you’ll find out the hard way, that they don’t stay on long when you just iron them on.

That’s OK.  This technique will make them much more permanent and stylish too.

You can use just about anything as a template.  But today, I am using cookie cutters.  They have simple lines, and are the perfect size.  You can also find many templates online too.  I found a skull template on Martha Stewart that I am modifying to mend my son’s jeans.

I traced around the butterfly on the back side of my patch using a Sharpie.  This may shock a few of you, but I tried pencil, and a Mark B Gone pen and they just didn’t show up.  The Sharpie worked great, I was just careful to cut inside the line of black.  You could use a white fabric marking pencil, but I couldn’t find mine.  -Do what you can with what you have, I guess.

I also cut out a flower for a different pair.  This one I embellished with another fabric too.

I had a scrap of fabric with a perfect flower.I used a small bit of Wonder Under on the back side of my chosen flower.  Iron it on.

Then cut around the flower.  The Wonder Under isn’t strictly necessary for a piece this small.  It’s peace of mind that it won’t fall off.  Peel off the paper backing…

DON’T try to iron it onto your patch yet!  Your patch will get sticky on the back, and be stuck to your ironing board.  (No, I didn’t do that… but I wouldn’t put it past me.)

Stitch your embellishment onto your cut patch using a blanket stitch or a zigzag.

Now you can iron the whole thing over the hole in your jeans.

Just as Amy suggests, I rolled the jeans up, to make the sewing easier.  Also just like Amy, I used a heavier weight- DMC thread, a heavy needle…

and a thimble to stitch around the flower.  I kept my needle working from the top as shown.  It’s a little tough to sew through the denims, but not too bad.And the jeans are done.  This patch is as cute as can be.  Because it’s been stitched, it’s not going to fall off anytime soon.

My daughters think they look super cool… and won’t feel embarrassed to wear clothes that have been mended.

Mending is good for your pocket book… and environmental, too.

So Make Do and Mend!  It’s a good thing, Martha.

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19 Responses to “Make Do and Mend: Patching a Knee”

  • Maria McClure:

    Very sweet! I once did something similar, but added 2 extra “patches” in a random spots so it wouldn’t look mended. Not much extra work to convince a 4 year old fashion diva that it was cute.

  • Cute! We recently inherited a hand-me-down Land’s End play dress with some staining on the front. We used the same idea to cover the stains with cute fabric flowers!

  • I like the idea of using the cookie cutter. I wouldn’t know how to do the stitching around the appliqué. It’d probably look worse than the whole. ;)

    I just wish there was “cute” way to mend wholes on the inner thigh. :(

  • Lea-Ann White:

    Stress tears! If you are still taking suggestions for mending tutorials, I could sure use one for stress tears of the inner thighs and crotch. I tried using the darning/patch method & it didn’t work – tried stitching it closed and it didn’t work… is there a great technique out there or what?? Thanks for this tute! Very cute!

  • Vikki:

    I think it’s a great idea. You never know when you might need it.
    I am new to your site am really enjoying it.
    Thank you!

  • What would you do for a knee that is torn all the way across the front, from side seam to side seam? ALL my jeans are like that right now and I desperately need to mend them before cold weather descends upon us.

  • Shaun:

    I’ve mended many jeans but they never looked this cute! Thanks for another great idea/post!!

  • Anne:

    That’s such a pretty way to patch a knee! I linked to your tutorial on Craft Gossip Sewing:


  • Michelle:

    I am a new follower and am so excited about learning about mending! This blog is sooo practical – I take notes! What about mending little holes in t shirts? Do they occur in anyone else’s house?

  • That is so cute! Thanks so much for the how-to, I’ll be linking to this.

  • Dene:

    What a brilliant idea! My daughter has grown so fast that she normally doesn’t stay in a size long enough to wear out the knees, but she’s beginning to become a bit more “rough and tumble”– this is a great way to extend the life of her clothes. Thanks so much for sharing.

  • erin:

    Great Idea I just finished patching my own Jeans (I always wear out my left knee) I added a few extra steps to help keep the knee from ripping again. I will be posting a tutorial on my blog shortly and linking back to yours. thank you for the great idea I love my Jeans and to think I was going to cut them up to use for other projects.

  • Jo:

    Thanks for posting this idea. I have been teaching my teen-aged daughters to sew and mend, and all three of us like this idea. The homework load is a bit heavy for them, especially the oldest, currently, but maybe during fall break we can use this idea and post photos of our attempts.

  • Lori:

    I love this! My mending issue is that I like to wear hoodies at work (where it is always freezing) and I sit at a desk staring at a computer all day. My elbows must be really pointy, because I wear holes at the elbows all the time. I’m constantly going out to buy more hoodies. It would be nice to just be able to mend these holes and continue to wear the ones I have. Does anyone else have this problem? I’ve gone through about 5 or 6 of these by now.

  • Great idea! Love the look.

  • Did you ever do your son’s jeans with the skull patch? Would love to see how those came out!

  • Lu:

    Too funny! I am fixing to repair pants for a young man that is all man! Haha, when he was 6 & under I could put decorations but think he is a bit old for that now even around the barn! It just tickled my funny bone! I was just trying to find a simpler way than what I have been doing. Thanks, anyway.

  • Ann:

    My son loved it when I would patch his jeans with an animal shape–turtles worked well, or you could use any silhouette of an animal that doesn’t have a lot of detail.

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