Tuesday, November 17

patching pants

I wasn't really taught how to patch things. Not because of any fault of my mother. She taught me what she knew about patching, but mostly it was for items to be used gently.

My husband works outside, and he works hard. He works with sharp things, and he works on his knees. A lot. He has lots of work pants, but recently I noticed that ALL pairs of pants had holes somewhere. I had tried to patch the knees of his pants before with those iron on patches and some zigzag stitches, but what might work for occasional-wear patches did NOT work on his oft-used pants. But I didn't know any other way to do it, so he wore holey pants. No big deal in the summer.

Then, while I was in Colorado, I noticed my sister in law patching one of my nephew's pants, on the outside. DUH, I thought. I could do that, too.

So here's what I did.

First, stacked up all 5 pairs that needed help. 3 grey, 1 green, 1 denim. Then, I found some pants that were beyond, way beyond repair and used those as my patching material. The patching material was thinner than the work pants, so I made a double layer. Then I went ahead and pinned the patch in place, covering way more than the ripped area.

May I here recommend leather-weight needles? I broke two #16's before I had that bright idea. Anyway, I started to sew the patch. I used the largest zigzag with a stitch length of 2, and then I went around the whole thing with a straight stitch to reinforce further.

PS - I love my sewing machine! It's a Riccar that mom bought for me at a garage sale! YAY!

I then turned the whole thing inside out and this is what I saw. Now some of the pairs were more unsightly than this, what with my attempted patch jobs and multiple lines of stitches overtop of an iron on patch - that mess would have irritated the knees. And goodness knows I do not want my husband to have irritated knees.

So, I got out my trusty sewing scissors - Gingers, thank you Mrs. Behn - they are still the best graduation gift ever!! and carefully cut around the edges of my patch, leaving a bit of pant left but cutting away most of the excess.

Until the finished product looked like this on the inside:

Now, one pair of pants took me less than 30 minutes to do from start to finish. I say much less stress than schlepping myself and two maybe-cranky children over to the Salvation Army (because I am not paying full price for pants that will get paint, tar, mortar and all manners of ickiness all over them) and hoping they have pants in the right size with no pleats and the right kind of pockets and loops for my hunky construction worker husband.

Not to mention, this used up an old pair of pants that wasn't good for anything else, and extended the life expectancy of 5 pairs of work pants. For free(ish - I did break 2 needles, after all). So this is my homecky moment for last week. And I'm relieved that my mending pile has drastically decreased. Michael is relieved that he has pants to wear to work that won't freeze his knees. And so we're all a bit happier.


ruth said...

Good for you, Jenny! Repairing and Repurposing! I must say that you are an encouraging example for me.

Also, I miss you.

That is all.

Cat said...

Patching is a lost art. My mother-in-law was an INCREDIBLE patcher. She would put one patch on the inside of the pants and one on the outside and then hand sewed with such tiny stitches that it was sometimes hard to see where the patch was. It was truly a piece of art. She told me that after raising kids for 20 years, she should be good at it. (She had 12 kids.) Thanks for sharing your adventure in patching. Like you, my hubby works in a dirty, grimy job and gets pretty messy clothes, so Salvation Army is our friend too.

Kara said...

I've never heard of a Riccar sewing machine. I'll have to remember that if my little Viking ever dies.

Rosemary said...

You did a GREAT job Jenny. The 'tutorial' is great too. In this economy, mending is not only necessary, but is getting more 'in style'. Your great-grandma Willsie used to go through a lot of those iron-on heavy-duty patches on Grandpa's work clothes that really got a lot of wear at the sawmill. But I like your sewn in patch which would be much less stiff. Your Michael is one lucky guy!!! :)

Alicia said...

Super job, Jenny! Wow, very productive of you. I've only done a tiny bit of patching and I use those iron on patches and then sew over top. Way to repurpose and be productive! Wanna tackle my mending pile? I keep it in a drawer so I don't see it and feel guilty that I never get to it. :)

dan and cheryl forbes said...

SUPER SEWER!!!!!! i sure love u! mom

Jenny LaBo said...

Wow thank you so much for taking the time to post this! IT is EXTREMLY helpful!!!

Elizabeth Curtis said...

I remember the first time I had to patch a bunch of Marc's pants--I did not have a sewing machine at the time, and I counldn't get anything but a huge needle through the thicknesses of jeans plus iron-on patch. It took forever, and wore out my hand! By the time Marc was working at a sawmill, I had figured out to catch holes when they were small, and to use fabric for some of the patches, instead of the iron-ons. You might consider putting reinforced knees in the next pair of "new" work pants, before they go into circulation. Of course, he may not always get holes in the same places...

Mary P. said...

Wow, Jenny! I didn't even know you were paying any attention to me when I was patching up Austin's Pants. Good for you! I don't like to cut any fabric away from the inside because I figure it makes the patch a bit more durable. I will cut away the strings so they don't snag any toes. On one of my favorite pants I patched the outside and the inside so it would feel smooth on my knees. Isn't it nice that patches are so "in" these days?! Anyway, have fun expermenting with what works for you the best! Love You!!!