How to Patch Stretchy Jeans




Introduction: How to Patch Stretchy Jeans

About: I work at instructables by day, and turn into a stitch witch by night. follow me on instagram @jessyratfink to see what i'm working on! ^_^

I have a love/hate relationship with stretchy jeans. I love them because they fit my body type loads better than standard denim jeans, but they also have a tendency to rip much easier. Last month my two favorite pairs of jeans (that I've hemmed, tailored and added extra buttons to for the perfect fit!) developed holes right under my butt and I was heartbroken. Mostly because I love the jeans, but also because shopping for new jeans is the worst thing ever.

Stretchy jeans are a little bit more tricky to patch - at first I tried iron on patches and trying to sew woven fabric into the inside but those solutions only lasted a couple days before I had a huge rip again.

But then I had the most genius idea: why not just buy a pair of clearance stretch jeans to make a custom patch?

I went to Target and bought a pair of the ugliest stretch denim capris that I'd ever seen and cannibalized them to make a patch. I sewed the patch on, put on the jeans, and did some squats and acrobatics and the patch didn't bust. SUCCESS!!

I've been wearing the jeans as much as possible for the last week or so just to make sure the patch wouldn't fail, and I'm happy to report IT TOTALLY WORKS! I am so so happy I finally figured it out.

Read on to find out how to patch your stretchy jeans! :D

Step 1: What You'll Need:

  • a pair of busted jeans
  • another pair of stretchy jeans in a similar color you can cut into patches OR excess denim from your current jeans
  • sewing needle
  • polyester or poly/cotton blend thread that matches the color of your jeans
  • pins
  • scissors

If you're a genius you probably hemmed your current busted jeans and saved the excess demin. I was a dummy and threw it away. Never again!

You can definitely do a better job than I did finding another pair of jeans that match the color of your current jeans. I have no patience for shopping and just didn't want any holes in my jeans. So the decision was entirely "Dark denim? Check! $12? AWWW YEAH I"M BUYING THESE LET'S LEAVE NOW PLEASE"

Make sure that the thread you use is polyester or a polyester blend. 100% cotton thread is more likely to break under loads of pressure. I like Gutermann thread, and Coats & Clark also makes a great all purpose thread that works well.

Step 2: Cut Out the Patch and Pin On

Have a look at the damage and cut out a patch to cover it. Check the direction your jeans stretch the most in, and try to get the patch to mirror that. (For example: if the jeans stretch vertically more than horizontally, cut the patch so that it mimics that.)

I haven't played much with the shapes, so feel free to use all straight edges like I did or curve them if you're feeling fancy.

Pin the patch excessively. This will keep it rigid and let you sew it on much easier.

You probably could use an adhesive like Fabri-Tac or Steam-a-Seam, but I skipped it because adhesives can make hand sewing much harder.

Step 3: General Tips for Sewing on the Patch

Double thread a needle so that the thread is almost as long as your arm. If you have beeswax lying around, coat the thread with it. It'll help keep it from getting too tangled while you sew. (Check out my "how to sew a seam" instructable for more info on beeswax!)

Insert the needle through the patch only from back to front, so the knot in the thread lays up against the back of the patch. Don't go through both the jeans and the patch - having the knot inside the jeans will be super uncomfortable. It might seem little now, but once it's been rubbing against your skin all day it will make you homicidal.

Anytime you need to make a knot, do it between the jeans and the patch to save yourself irritation later.

Step 4: Sew Around the Edges!

You want to sew this so you're catching the edges of the patch all the way around. I'm doing a bit of a whipstitch to secure it.

Try to keep your stitches nice and tiny - 1/8 inch from the edge of the patch and 1/8 inch spacing or smaller between the stitches. :)

Have a look at the photos above to see what it should look like!

Once you get to the end, bring the needle out between the patch and jeans and tie the two halves of the thread together several times. It should lay nicely under the patch if you tie the knots tight.

Step 5: Reinforce the Hole

This is optional, but I like to do it because it might just keep it from falling apart more AND it keeps the middle of the patch nice and tight against the jeans. Just do a fast running stitch all around the existing hole. :D

Thread your needle again and insert it between the jeans and patch so the knot lays between them and stitch from there.

Once you're done, tie everything off and snip all the loose ends.

BOOM. Nicely patched jeans. :D



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    17 Discussions

    I've got another idea: if you take your cotton t-shirt and add that as a patch on the inside of your jeans, to make it super comfy, then you could also add a denim patch on the outside for double reinforcement too! Off to patch some jeans!

    I just cut up an old t-shirt and put the patch on the inside, nice and soft. I use my machine and zigzag over the entire area. I figure that unless I am doing very fancy aerobics in public, no-one is going to see the patch there, so I don't even change the colour of the thread on the machine :)

    Oh, and Goodwill would be a place for even cheaper jeans in the right colour if you really want to patch on the outside. They would also have the more worn in appearance of the jeans you are repairing

    1 reply

    The t-shirt thing sounds perfect! I have maybe 3-4 pairs of jeans that have holes in them and at least 80 million old t-shirts lying around. Thanks for the tip!

    I patch jeans the same way you do but I pass the sewing machine all across the patch many times to make it stronger. It's a trick my grandmother told me and it works perfectly!

    7 replies

    Do you find that running the machine across the patch a bunch of times prevents the patch from stretching, or are you not patching stretchy jeans?

    I patch all sorts of jeans, stretchy and non stretchy. Doing so with stretchy jeans you might feel a slight tightness in the patched area. What I do, though, is to use a stretchy fabric as well, and it works pretty well.

    When you stitch across your patches in stretchy jeans using a sewing machine, do you use a particular type or length of stitch (like a stretch stitch)?

    I use a normal stitch but recently I've discovered that the best stitch for elastic fabric is the zig-zag stitch! I sewed a bikini an it works perfectly. The zig-zag form is also elastic and it keeps the fabric elasticity. I used a stitch length of 2,5 with tension 4. Hope this help you!

    Yes, the zig-zag stitch is the correct one, and you may even have a stretch version of a zig-zag on your machine. I sew my patches on the inside, as well. : )

    Bees Wax. Brilliant!
    Thanks for this.
    Aaannd I'm off to patch some jeans.

    I wish I saw this before I threw away my favorite pair of stretchy jeans!!! Awesome project!

    Jessy, you always bring on the awesome, but this one is going to help me so much!

    My favourite shop closed, and not so many around here sell cute affordable fatass jeans.


    1 reply

    Since I'm 4'11", I saves all of my stretchy 'ends' since most are at least 3 inches long and keep my repair stash seperate. There aren't very many cute affordable little jeans either, and almost none without spandex, my true preference. Since I'm stuck, thanks for telling me what to do with that stash!

    1 reply