Q & Answer: Patching Jeans

September 25, 2014

Q & Answer: Patching Jeans

A reader who goes by Slendertroll asks: In your latest post about those gorgeous LVC jeans, you mentioned they had been patched a couple times. Can you recommend a specific product for doing this? I assume it was some sort of iron-on denim patch, but the ones I see online have quite mixed reviews.

There are a few ways to repair denim. You can reweave the fabric, use a sewn-in patch or use an iron-on patch.

As denim has grown into something that borders on a hobby, an industry has grown up around reweaving jeans. Companies like Denim Therapy use a process similar to sweater reweaving to essentially create a patch that’s woven into the fabric itself. This can be a little expensive ($8/inch in the case of Denim Therapy), but often the result is almost impossible to see.

Iron-on patches are probably the cheapest and easiest solution. Any fabric store has denim-colored iron-ons. These can be placed either on top of or behind damage (we recommend the former – the edges keep from peeling longer and it looks better). Super-strong heat activated adhesive keeps the patch in place. I’ve done this before, and the patch held well. One downside is that the patches can be a bit stiff – which can be a bit odd looking in bendy bits like knees and sometimes can lead to extra distress around the patch.

My jeans were patched the old-fashioned way. A seamstress simply backed the weakening fabric with a bit of similarly-colored cotton and sewed the hell out of it. The result isn’t invisible, but it is strong and flexible. In fact, when my jeans gave way below my pocket, I had her reinforce externally with a bit of pretty fabric. If you sew, this is a pretty straightforward process, but you can certainly have someone do it for you as well. Depending on your tailor or alterationist, the price of this could vary, but it generally won’t cost you much.

I think any of these three are pretty reasonable ways to go. I chose regular old patches for the same reason I chose raw denim. With clothing this casual, I’m not afraid to let the wear show a bit. As long as I can keep my jeans functional, a little wabi-sabi won’t hurt them.

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