Monday, April 19, 2010

The Mystery of the Holey Jeans and the Search for a Lasting Fix

How is it possible that 4 pairs of Beeper's jeans all developed holes in the knees within days of one another? These were not jeans purchased at the same time--2 were purchased in the fall, one in January, and another were thrifted well over a year ago--so it just seems so positively odd to me that they all suddenly have holes. Has Beeper been crawling around on all fours, all day, every day, at school recently? Is there some rare denim-eating vermin in our home that is partial to knees only? Or perhaps when I am away, Mr Beeper orders Beeper onto his knees to to scrub the kitchen floor like Cinderella? (kidding honey--we all know that you are only one scrubbing the floors in our home--credit where credit is due) I am utterly vexed.

Whatever the case, I have ironed on some light-weight canvas patches, using SuperBond Ultra Hold. Except, in my experience, the SuperBond, does not bond so super, or hold in any sort of ultra manner. I have done this before--and it seems it usually only buys us 1-2 months more max before the patches simply peel away like pages from a stack of paper in the wind. And even more frustrating--one of the knees on a pair of jeans (and only one!--the other knee was fine) stalwartly refused to adhere to the patch today--despite two attempts with different patches. What the hell?

So, I turn to all of you, in all of your wisdom: What do you do to patch your kids' jeans? Got a magic fix? A little mending trick up your sleeve? Do tell, please. Call me cheap, but I am determined to make these jeans last until late summer at least...

22 comments:

Kelly said...

Iron it on, but put a few stitches by hand around the edges. If you can just keep the edges down, you'll be much better off!

Christina said...

I use iron-on patches and then sew around the hole and the outer edge of the patch. It looks messier than just ironing the patch on, but it does make the patch stay put! If you use decorative stitches or make zig zags of stitching across the patch over the hole instead of just sewing around it, it looks better. I hope I'm making sense. I'm especially sleep deprived today, and my brain is shorting out.

Holly said...

But how do you get your machine to manuever around the inside that little leg? I wanted to zigzag, but could not figure out how to move the jeans around so I cold get around the entire patch and not just two sides. What am I missing? Is this a limitation of my 70's era sewing machine that no one else has?

Maggie said...

ah, now I see your problem. I was going to suggest you zigzag around the patch, but yes, how do you get into the inside of the pant leg??

Wendi said...

Sadly, I am a master at extending the length of pants (my daughter keeps growing up way more than out - if you know what I mean) but I have never figured out a good method for patching knees.

MamaLucy said...

I never do patch pants- firstly, my girls hardly wear pants, and secondly, the whole fit-the-pant-leg-onto-machine-dilemma. How about making 3 new pairs of cut-offs, differing levels of fray or hemming, and then thrifting 3 new pairs?

Rose said...

Ahh, I am so glad you posted this as I have pairs and pairs of holey jeans that are destined to become shorts soon but I would rather repair them at this point. As far as stitching around the patches, I understand that you must open the seam at the inner or outer leg (whichever is not a flat-felled seam), then sew around the patch and re-stitch the seam. Ugh!

Tallis Ford said...

I zig-zag stitch around the patches using a 90s singer. I've done them on 4Ts and have gone in through the open-top with the attachment off my machines to make the "sewing space" more narrow. It's still tight so i just sew a tiny bit at a time to make sure i'm sewing through only the right layer. But if that's too much bother i would just hand-sew the edges after ironing with the bond.

Danielle said...

Iron on patches, then hand stitch a zig zag stitch OR use fabric puff paint to outline the shape instead of the stitching. I haven't done puff paint on knees, but it does hold up for a while on fabric and would be easy to redo quick if it started to fail. GL!

noggintoppers said...

I usually take the lazy approach. I make them into shorts! I have girls, though, and they can wear tights underneath them when it is still colder out.

Diāna said...

I do make patches. More often than not it is not possible to get the leg under the sewing-machine needle. There are three ways I go about it.
1) I rip open the seams of the legs if possible - if the jeans are very well-loved and perhaps if the ends need redoing as well. Then I try to do some applique to make the jeans look more interesting and not so worn. This is the result: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_UcSxcvxLvog/S5_ICXz6YtI/AAAAAAAAARc/pUi3QTlsjiY/s1600-h/ielapi+tuvuma.JPG
2) I bought the iron-on patches but no such luck for me, they held only until the first fash and peeled off. They were some specific (and much too expensive) reflective patches, so it was extremely hard to sew them on, and I didn't have a thimble at hand, so I ruined my fingers badly.
3) There are some pants with a bit wider legs that you CAN mend with the sewing machine without unraveling the seams. My mom did just that to two pairs of my boys' jeans. It helps for a while, but the boys wear those reluctantly, perhaps because the patches don't really improve the look of those jeans, but it will do for the time being.

ROLLERWRITER said...

It has been years-my youngest is now 25-but I use to add to the holding power of the patch by adding a thin layer of fabric glue around the edges. I also hand stitched-with the pants inside out-a patch of flannel over the knees. Then I got smarter and added that knee patch of flannel or thinly padded fabric to the kness when I bought the pants (put in with fabric glue. Hope this helps especially since you only need a few months from the pants.

Monique said...

Instead of an iron on patch, try a scrap of denim with a layer of fabric over it. It's softer and it lasts longer. My granny always puts the denim scrap on the inside and the boyish fabric on the outside. It takes a little more work, but it's practically indestructible . Zig zag or deco stitch around the edges. Yes, you'll have to pull out the inside leg seams, but it's really not that bad. I learned to spend a couple of extra dollars on a really high quality denim needle.

carolyn said...

I know this is a pisser as ai can't fit the legs in to zigzag so I patch the inside too and straight stitch up and down the leg kind of wonky over the patches

thecurryseven said...

I sew denim patches onto the knees of my sons's jeans. Now it's easy since my Viking has an omnidirectional function, so can sew sideways. But before I had this miraculous machine, I used a pretty basic one. First, you need to drop your feed dogs (if they drop) or put on the cover plate. Then slide the pant leg onto the machine and sew the easy side of the patch. Then you sew the more difficult way, by using your hands to move the pants sideways while the machine sews. You can then either sew backwards up the other easy end, or secure and move to the other more difficult seam and then sew the last easy seam to finish. I'm not sure my written description makes sense...it's much easier to show someone than explain...but it can be done!

M. Bloom said...

I avoid the issue altogether... My problem is that around April or May I start to see my little guy's ankles under the hems of his trousers. I either put him in last years shorts (knee length, cargo style) or cut off the pants to make shorts. If the weather is a bit chilly I bundle him in a warm sweater, but underneath the sweater? Shorts!

Holly said...

OH! I like the wonky stitching over the patches solution...espeically since it does not require me to rip out any seams which will then need to be resewn..I mean, wonky works just fine for a 5-year-old...in fact, the wonkier the better, right?

And as for thrifting new pairs? Has anyone noticed how hard it is to find a good pair of thrifted pants for boys at this age? Which I assume is because all the pants are in the garbage after being worn owing to the holes in the knees, as opposed to being donated for further use.

Susan Being Snippy said...

Now, having mostly sewn and patched jeans in the 1970's when the iron on patches did exist but weren't worth the price, contrary to every other post, I sewed the patch completely by hand. I actually didn't put a patch over the worn area, what I did was trim away all the raggedly edges, then slipped a piece of paper into the leg and laid the hole as straight as possible over the paper. Next I carefully drew a paper patch by following the edge of the hole in the jeans. Then I removed the paper and cut out the paper "patch" but adding about 1/2 inch all around to use as a turn under allowance. I turned under that edge and pressed it so that it was no a finished edge. I would pin the patch over the hole and with small tight stitches sew it directly over the hole, then once the patch was one, I would again sew with a running stitch around the edge of the hole and patch to give it extra strength. I usually used a good strong sewing thread -- you can buy Jeans Thread or the quilting thread that you can get, too. Quilting thread does not twist and tangle and is extra strong so makes a good patching thread. Just remember to take lots of small stitches as small stitches are stronger and are less likely to snag on things that large loose threads would. I rarely had to patch the same pair of jeans more than once by the time the boys grew out of them... Now for my hubby who was a dyed in the wool hippy, I patched his jeans even in places that they didn't need patches -- he loved them!

Pam said...

There seems to be a time when jeans get worn out quicker than they are outgrown, then comes a time when they are outgrown before they have even been worn! Then will come a time when holes in the knees are cool, your teens will want you to buy jeans that look like they are already worn out... you just can't win here....

Catherine et Olivier said...

you take the back pockets, and sew them on the knees... (before the hole, that is...) Great and really harder to make a hole !!

ohiocarol said...

LIKE DIANA, I open the seam without the top stitch, sew a oversized retangle over the top of the existing pants, these are thrifted from my worn out jeans or garage sales mens pair will yield lots of patches from the back of the leg. I press under the 3 edges of the patch before I sew it on stitching close to the edge. The 4th edge of the patch should extend to be the new raw edge of the seam you opened. Now the best part is the existing pant leg under your patch, can now be cut away, (or left if you prefer and toes won't get stuck in the tear ;) Turn inside out and sew up the seam.

joolee said...

check out my sis-in-law's method of patching her boys' jeans:

http://pujparent.blogspot.com/2010/03/holy-jeans.html

I've tried it on my husband's jeans and shorts - it works!!

http://richardsonshine.blogspot.com/2010/04/not-just-for-little-boys.html