On the Mend: 4 Stitches to Repair Damaged Clothing

thread to repair damaged clothing

One of the greenest things that you can do as a crafter is mend your things rather than replacing them, and clothing is no exception. Any time you buy something new, you’re contributing to all of the waste associated with that product’s supply chain. You might think that you have to be an expert seamstress to mend damaged clothes, but that’s not true at all! You don’t even need a sewing machine – just a needle, thread, and a bit of patience are all it takes to repair damaged clothing.

Whether you picked up a pair of pants at the thrift store that are too long or you need to mend rips and tears, having the right stitches in your sewing arsenal are key! Here are some of our favorite stitches to repair damaged clothing.

1. Simple Running Stitch – For sewing on patches or finishing hems, the running stitch is quick, easy, and effective. A running stitch is the most basic sewing stitch: knot your thread, push the needle up through the wrong side of the fabric, then push it back through about 1/8″ from where you pushed it up. Repeat, making 1/8″ stitches all the way around, knot your thread, and you’re done.

2. Back Stitch – This is perfect for things like zippers or seams that have unraveled rather than torn, where you want some extra strength. The back stitch is also good for hems or patches, if they’re in an area on the garment that’s going to get a lot of wear and tear. Here’s a great video on how to sew a back stitch:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n04lLVqOEjA

3. Whip Stitch – For tears, busted seams, and separated pockets the whip stitch is your friend. We shared a video and details on how to mend your damaged clothes with the whip stitch earlier this week. You can also use your whip stitch to repair an unraveled hem. Just choose a thread color that matches your pants or skirt, start sewing on the wrong side of the fabric, and whip your way around.

4. Sewing a Button – If you’re a beginning seamstress, sewing a button might seem too tricky,  but it’s not at all! This quick video from Threadbanger not only shows you how to sew on a button but how to do a hidden knot, so your repair will be just as good as a pro:

Do any of you guys have stitches that you’ve found handy in mending your clothes? Let’s share more repair inspiration in the comments!

[Image Credit: Thread photo via Shutterstock]

Written by Becky Striepe

My name is Becky Striepe (rhymes with “sleepy”), and I am a crafts and food writer from Atlanta, Georgia with a passion for making our planet a healthier, happier, and more compassionate place to live. My mission is to make vegan food and crafts accessible to everyone!. If you like my work, you can also find me on Twitter, Facebook, and .

5 Comments

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  1. Thanks for the tips! I have a very specific question. I have a quilted jacket that has a couple of stitches which are unraveling on one tier. How do I repair the stitching when it is only accessible from the front, and the purpose of the stitching is only to provide quilting, not to join two pieces together. It is similar to a puffer jacket with a liner. As I said, I can only access the front. What to do? Thanks!

    • Hmm, that’s a tricky one, since it sounds like it was quilted before the garment was put together. If that’s correct, then your best bet may be to sew it back down all the way through the garment, even though the rest of it isn’t put together this way. Just follow the stitching with a simple straight stitch or back stitch. It won’t be just like new, but folks won’t be able to see the few stitches on the inside, at least!

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