Skip to main content Skip to help / support
Thread, Fabric, Buttons and Pin Cushion

One thing I didn’t need as I rushed to get dressed for work was the horrible ripping sound as I shoved my arm too quickly into my sweater. Not only would I need to find another outfit (and be actually late) but I’d have to say goodbye to my favorite sweater – or would I?

Just because something’s ripped, I reasoned, doesn’t mean it can’t be fixed. And what I discovered was that not only could I fix my unfortunate clothing, but that visible repairs can be quite fashionable. These four techniques make patching clothes an artful experiment rather than a chore.

The Rip: Sweater elbows

The Fix: Needle felting

One key to repair is to be sure that the hole underneath is slightly mended to avoid further tearing. For needle felting, you’ll need a mat, wool roving, a needle felting tool , a wool sweater, and an iron for the final touches. You can get creative with your repairs by choosing to felt in patterns or shapes. This tutorial featuring a heart-shaped patch is especially helpful.

The Rip: Jean knees

The Fix: The under patch

Because everybody—especially kids!—deals with ripped jeans, the under patch is a common repair. You can take it to the next level with a great fabric pattern or color. To patch the jeans hole, just cut a piece of strong fabric larger than the hole and reinforce it with twill. Turn the jeans inside-out and use a non-toxic adhesive iron-on to attach the fabric patch to the inside of the knee. You can reinforce with a few stitches from the outside.

The Rip: Jacket lining

The Fix: Color burst

Choose a color block to make a statement – like a purple patch on a pink lining, or bright turquoise on a muted brown. Then just fold in the edges of the patch for reinforcement and hand stitch with a matching thread. You can use a funky shape (or a few, if you want to expand your repair into full-on embellishment) for extra pop.

The Rip: Knit sleeve or body

The Fix: Simple stitch in color

Knits demand sturdy patches and the absence of irons. So grab a thick fabric, cut a patch that is larger than the hole (which you’ve already stitched slightly to keep it from growing) and use a simple stitch with a contrasting color thread to visibly line the patch’s border.

What simple, visible repairs do you favor for fashion?

Seventh Generation Block Logo

On a mission to create a more healthy, sustainable, and equitable world for the next seven generations and beyond.