Denim Fixes: How to Repair Your Jeans


If you’re like me, you know all too well the pain of giving up on your favorite pair of jeans. You’ve been told the day was coming (and perhaps even that the day had come and gone long ago) when you’d need to invest in a new pair, and yet it’s hard to let go. You’ve undoubtedly tried on countless jeans since you bought “the pair,” but nothing compared. Whether it’s the fit, the style, the wash or just the memories attached to them, you’re favorite denim is about as irreplaceable as a family photo album!

And yet the day inevitably comes when you bend down to tie your shoe or pick up a quarter off the sidewalk (it so wasn’t worth it!), and you feel it. Maybe it’s a tiny tear in the knee, but it’s usually worse. You know what I’m talking about – that heart-wrenching tear, both felt and heard, stretching from the inseam to the back pocket of your rear. And for a brief moment (see what I did there?!), you are exposed to the world. It never happens at home, does it? No, you’re at work, or at dinner with your friends, or if you’re really lucky you’re on a date.

Well, ladies and gentleman of denim destruction, I am here for you today. Instead of tossing those beloved jeans into the trash, why not repay them for their years of service with a repair job? There are several simple methods for repairing torn-up jeans, and they often come out with more character and charm than they had before “the incident.” I’ll show you my own personal favorite DIY fixes, as well as a few professional options if you really want to give them the royal treatment.

1. The iron-on patch

My personal favorite is the store-bought denim patch. I discovered these early in my years of spending too much on jeans, and they have been a life-saver and a first line of defense for me ever since. These often times come in packs of  3-5, and can be found at any craft store or general goods store. They come in all different shades, so you can iron it on the outside and use the patch that matches the best. I like to iron them on the inside, though, and leave the look of the hole or tear intact. If you want to get really involved, you can also iron them on the inside and sew some zig-zagged lines on the outside in a matching thread color. If you are handy enough, you can come close to hiding the scar altogether (but where’s the fun in that!?). *Insider tip: Even though you are ironing it on, these patches will eventually start to peel off. I always hand sew a few laps around the edges, which really extends the life of the patch and will help it hold up through the washing machine.

2. The sewn in patch using denim or other fabric scraps

If you are a little more handy with a sewing machine, you can save a trip to the store by using scrap fabrics to patch your jeans. This is a bit more labor-intensive, but you can often times achieve a result that is more pleasing to the eye. Also, iron-on patches can be stiff and uncomfortable until you break them in. There are loads of tutorials on the internet that break down different methods for sewing on a patch if you’re a first timer. Here are a couple I used when I was teaching myself:

3. Leave it to the professionals

Some of us are handier than others, but most of our handy work pales in comparison to the results you’ll get by simply taking your torn-up jeans to a professional. These days there are lots of options, both local and through the internet, when it comes to getting your denim professionally repaired. Any tailor in town can handle most jobs, but there are a number of companies that now take mail-in repairs that offer very competitive prices. My personal favorite is Denim Therapy (see before & after above). They have developed a great reputation and some of their before and after shots are downright unbelievable. So if you don’t mind investing a bit of money into bringing your beloved jeans back to life, I can almost guarantee you’ll be satisfied with the results. That and you’re jeans will likely last longer because of it.

Now go ahead and let out a big sigh – yeah, that’s the sound of relief! Whether you’re working with a limited budget and even more limited skills, or you would do anything to save those tattered threads you call a pair of jeans, there is now hope. But of course these are only a few options I have enjoyed in the past.

Do you have any secrets or tips of your own to offer? Feel free to share them in the comments section below!