DIY: How to Save Your Favorite Jeans

jeans with hole in kneeWe all have a favorite pair of jeans. The ones that look great and fit just right.

Unfortunately, well-loved jeans don’t age gracefully. The culprit: holes in the knees, pockets, or back. If your favorite jeans start to look “holier than thou,” don’t despair.

With a needle, some thread, and a little love, you can turn dying jeans into designer jeans. (DIY difficulty level: Easy)

I suspect that if you’re reading this site, you already have easy access to a needle and thread. But if thimbles and thread-rippers are Greek to you, then you’ll be happy to know that learning to sew by hand is very easy.

Step 1: Take your holy jeans, a sewing needle, and some thread. When choosing the color of thread, consult your inner fashion designer. (We all have one somewhere.)

  • If you want the thread to show when you’re finished sewing, then choose a color of thread that would look great with the rest of the stitches on the jeans.
  • If you don’t want the thread to show, then choose a color similar to the fabric of the jeans.

Step 2: You’ll also need a scrap of denim or two. My favorite jeans were hand-me-down Italian Energie jeans that I’d never bothered to hem, so I hemmed them before this project and used the extra fabric as my scrap fabric. If you don’t have some denim lying around, you can get some at your local crafts store. Or you could sacrifice a less-than-favorite pair of jeans. If your inner fashion designer is really an artistic wizard, you might also try patching your jeans with non-denim materials.

Step 3: Patching the jeans.

  1. Place the scrap of material that you’ll use for the patch on the inside of the jeans. Make sure that the scrap more than covers the hole. Denim frays, so you’ll want to leave room for the material to fray by making your scrap about an inch larger (on all sides) than the hole you’re patching.
  2. Thread the needle with your choice of thread and tie off the ends. Then push the needle and thread through the scrap and into your jeans. Be sure to start sewing from the inside! The tied-off ends of the thread should be on the inside of your jeans so they’re not visible.
  3. Before you begin sewing, you have a decision to make: to make the thread visible or not. If you don’t want the thread to be visible, then every time you insert the needle into the outside of the jeans, insert it as close as possible to where the thread is coming out of the jeans.
  4. As you sew, keep the needle and thread about 1/2 inch from the edge of both the scrap and jeans fabric. This will allow some room for fraying as the material ages.

Step 4: Finishing up

Sew all the way around the hole. When you’re done, you’ll have your favorite old jeans feeling like new. Plus, you can wear them proudly, knowing that your creative smarts went into making them look sharp.

The final product! (Note: Like my flower pillow? Yes, all Korean beds that I could find here really are this feminine.)

Patched jeans

Related articles:

What Can You Do With Jeans?

Top 5 Must Have DIY Sewing Tomes

Photo credit: djloche (above); Me (left).

Written by Gavin Hudson

Gavin blogs from Zurich, Switzerland. His day job is Digital Media Communications Manager for ABB. Previously, he lived and worked in South Korea, blogging, editing and freelance writing for Green Options and PV Magazine.

Gavin's favorite environmental work has included: co-founding the grassroots Nature Conservation Club at about age 8; interning for the Jane Goodall Insitute's Roots & Shoots (R&S) program; representing R&S at the World Social Forum VI in Caracas, Venezuela; volunteering at the Marine Mammal Center of Sausalito; being a research assistant for a CAL lab studying climate change in Colorado; bicycling lots.


Leave a Reply
  1. I am glad I happened upon yours while doing a serach for environmentally friendly blogs! I love to sew (mostly bags & curtains) but patching jeans has always eluded me & now I know! Thanks for the lesson & great blog.

  2. Wow! This is really simple but really great! I love your blog and this is another great post. I usually try to patch my jeans and fail, leaving them only suitable to wear during yardwork and heavy duty house cleaning. Maybe my luck will turn with when my next favorite pair tries to kick the bucket…

  3. Things are worth fixing up!

    Thanks for the nice tutorial. Since I’m basically “sewing challenged”, I would love more simple instructions like this. How about more mending and reinforcing info?

  4. YAY! thanks for posting this, my favorite pair of organic loomstate jeans are totally falling apart… the hole right under my butt cheek has made the jeans only compatable with tunics (or i’ll have to become a groupie for some horrible band!) I wasn’t sure how to patch it up, but now i know ! 🙂

  5. Thank you for this! I sacrifieced a “less than favorite” pair of jeans to patch my fiance’s shredding pair and then used the rest of the scrapped pair to cover journals for friends. Everything is usable!!

  6. I have a problem getting ready to occur. One of my good pair of jeans are starting to get really thin in the butt. So I know a hole will end up there sooner or later any suggestions on what I can do?

  7. I've found it handy to do the sewing the 1/2" out AND one right up next to the hole, if you want to delay the hole getting bigger.

    Also, for thin areas like Jennifer asked about, iron on fabric patches work really well to reinforce the fabric. You can get them in all sorts of sizes and all you do is put them on the inside out jeans in the right spot and iron with a dry hot iron.

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