A carefully sewn patch can extend the life of a favorite garment. Whether you need to rescue a garment from an unfortunate snag or reinforce a weak point, patches are not difficult to sew by hand or by machine. Here is your quick guide on how to sew a patch.
Nearly Invisible Patches
The first step to neatly patching a hole is to neaten the hole by cutting it into a square or rectangle lined up with the grain of the fabric. Using a short stitch length, reinforce the hole by stitching ¼ inch from the edges all around, carefully turning square corners. Carefully clip the corners to the stitching so you can turn under the edges along the stitching lines and press, producing a neat “window” under which to place your patch material. A drop of liquid fray preventer (e.g. Fray Check) at each corner is a wise precaution.
Cut a patch of matching fabric or of fabric similar in color, weight, and texture. Be sure the patch is larger than the window (it will be trimmed later.) If the fabric is a plaid or stripe, move the patch under the window until the pattern is aligned properly. Hand baste 1/4 inch from fold through all layers with large stitches to hold the patch in place until you do the permanent machine stitching.
Edge stitch near the fold through all layers around the hole. Remove hand-basting stitches. Finish patch by:
- Topstitching ¼ inch from edge stitching on the right side, then trimming patch edges on wrong side of garment close to stitching or
- Finishing patch edges on the wrong side with pinking shears or zigzag stitching.
A decorative patch is meant to show and is simply applied on top of a hole or worn area like we did in our sequin jeans here or even applied in a place where there is no hole, such as a club patch or merit badge. If the patch is a ready-made applique with a finished edge to prevent fraying, simply pin the patch in place (or use washable glue stick or and basting) and topstitch close to the edge. Use a shorter stitch length if you are sewing a curved patch; this enables smoother curves.
For a homemade patch, first cut your patch from fabric in the desired shape then finish around the edges with satin stitching, serging, or a narrow hem. Once done, the homemade patch is treated like a ready-made patch.
Lace is easy to repair. Simply add more lace. Be sure to take the garment to the fabric store to match with lace trim, since there are many shades of white and ivory. Netting or tulle can be repaired by adding a lace applique.
Garments can last longer when you know how to patch them. Master this simple sewing skill and you could be a hero to friends who tear their favorite jeans or snag their wedding veil.