Friday, October 11, 2013

DIY Patches for Jeans - Tutorial

My husband hates these jeans. But I love them. They are the most comfortable pair that I own, and I could wear them forever. Some of you might suggest that I rub the pattern and make another pair, but it's not the same.  You see, it's the way the denim has worn down like an old pair of flannel pajamas, making them sleepwear worthy.  However, I've been banned from wearing them, especially to bed, because according to my husband, they are an embarrassment even in the dark.

I don't like doing alterations or repairs much on clothes. It's like cleaning the house for me...pure work and short-lived satisfaction. So instead of sewing just any old patch onto my holy jeans, I decided to make my own. Remember that growing box of scraps that I showed you in my last post? I'm trying to use pieces out of there whenever I can. The leftovers from my daughter's quilt project from two Summers ago have really come in handy. I've used it for interfacing, bias tape, and today, I turned one of the pieces into patches.

It's not a quick and dirty job though. The whole process took me a couple of hours, and the hand stitching was the most tedious, but rewarding. I can't believe I said the words tedious and rewarding in the same sentence.  I'm not a quilter so I don't make appliques too often, but they do come in handy once in a while for apparel detail. These patches are functional and decorative, and can be used for more than just holes. Once you get the hang of it, they can be created to embellish as well as repair garments.

If anyone is interested, here is how I made them using supplies I had on hand:

1. Fabric for patches (if your jeans are stretch, you might want to use washable stretch fabric instead). My jeans don't have stretch in it, so I used basic cotton. You can even recycle your jeans into patches for other jeans.
2. Shapeflex from Pellon to add some stiffness to the patch (leftovers from my Weekender Bag).
3. 800 Clear Fuse from Pellon to use as the iron on between the patch and the jeans.
4. Embroidery thread and a nub of good bee's wax. I used a rayon embroidery thread that I had in my stash for a long time. It had a very nice sheen, but not the most sturdy. Try to use sturdier thread.
5. Stitch Witchery hemming tape to iron on edges that lift up or did not adhere to the Clear Fuse.

The rest is pretty self explanatory.

1. Trim the shredded thread around the holes in your jeans.

2. Iron on the Shapeflex according to instructions to your chosen patch fabric. Make sure you have a piece big enough to cover your patch. I covered my complete right knee area because the hole was very big, and I wanted to stabilize the fabric in that area.

3. Place the 800 Clear Fuse behind your patch, but do not iron yet. Make sure that the "sticky" side of the Clear Fuse is against the Shapeflex or the BACK of your patch.  You are creating the adhesive for your patch, which should be the same shape as the patch, see next step.
3. Cut out the shape you want to use as a patch. You can get creative here and cut around the designs on your fabric like I did, or you can make your own. Remember that the 800 clear fuse is on the back, and whatever you cut out of the fabric should be matched on the fuse.

4. Iron your Clear Fuse to the Shapeflex or BACK of your patch.  Leave a little corner UN-IRONED, so there is somewhere you can hold onto when you tear away the Clear Fuse backing to expose the other sticky side.

5. Now tear away the backing of the Clear Fuse.

6. Center your patch on your holes, and iron the patch to your jeans. NOTE: you might need to put a piece of fabric against the inside of your jeans, so the sticky Clear Fuse doesn't fuse to the back side of your jeans.  This is just used like a pressing cloth.  It doesn't stay on, but you could  create a second patch for the back side of the pants, and double up on the patches. This certainly would be much more thick and sturdy. I'd recommend double patches for around the knees of children's pants and maybe even the crotch areas where there is a lot of friction. Make sure your second patch is the same size as the exterior/outside patch. So both can get stitched together.

7, Check the patch edges for areas that are lifting up. If you see them, this is because some of the Clear Fuse adhesive did not make it to your patch.  This is where you would cut out strips of Stitch Witchery and iron it in between the patch and the jeans to hold the patch in place.

8.  Now bee's wax and thread the needle and stitch around the patch.  I used a double-side running stitch (also called a Holbein Stitch). If you don't know how to do this very historic hand stitch, you can learn it HERE. It basically looks like a running stitch except there are no spaces, and both the front and the back look like a continuous stitch.

I left the patch edges raw. You certainly can fold it under before ironing the patch, and then stitching the folded edge afterwards. I thought it might add some bulk so I didn't opt to do that. I might run in the problem of shredding later, but I'm hoping the adhesive will help keep the shredding to a minimum. I like the rustic-looking, (my definition for uneven) stitching.

The bottom right patch is what it looked like before I stitched it. 

Another option:
You could always cut the holes much bigger and stitch the patch from behind the hole, and then hand stitch it together. If you decide to use this step, you don't need to use the 800 Clear Fuse application. I decided not to do it that way because I want to reinforce the jean's fabric more. However, I think it would be an interesting look doing the reverse, and I might try it next time. You can see an example of this HERE.

More embellishments:
I was pretty tired after hand stitching all the patches, but you could embellish more by adding seed beads or even sequin to highlight the print. I might do that later...then update a photo. You can see examples of how other people have creatively repaired jeans HERE, HERE, and HERE. There is even a person selling patched jeans on Etsy HERE.

Happy patching!