Knee Patch Tutorial

Welcome to my first tutorial of the 2013!

A friend of mine recently asked me to patch up her son's pants. Like many young boys, he's rough on his knees resulting in rips and tears. It happens with boys! Here's how to patch those rough spots. 

First, here is a list of what you need.

  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • Seam Ripper
  • A Patch
  • Thread to match your patch
  • Sewing machine
  • Serger, though this is optional
You can purchase patches from the fabric store for a couple of dollars, or you can use some material you already have. I used some denim and some heavy weight, almost canvas, type fabric. If you are going to make your own patch, you'll want to cut it at least an inch larger on each side of the tear to be sure that it is covered well. 

Once you've got your patch ready you can start working on your pants. 

1. Turn your pants inside out. On the leg that you need to patch, you are going to locate the inseam. This is the seam on the inside of the leg, from crotch to bottom. You're going to work this seam open to make it easier to sew on your patch. This also makes it easier to sew the pants back up without it being noticed that they were ever taken apart. The outside seam of the pant leg is usually the side that has a double layer that is more complicated to undo and resew. Who needs that headache, right? 

About 4-6 inches above where your tear is, you are going to rip your seam open with a seam ripper. You are going to rip the seam open about the same length below the tear as well.
It's scary, I know. But don't worry! You won't be able to notice it was ever taken apart when you are done. This makes sewing a patch on much easier than trying to bunch a pant leg under your sewing machine.
You will be ripping open serged edging and a straight stitch. Rip until you feel you have enough space to turn your pants under your sewing machine without having to do gymnastics with it. 
2. Once you've got your seam ripped you can turn your pants back right side out and lay them flat.  Smooth any wrinkles. Iron if you'd like. You're going to pin on your patch! 

 In this picture that follows you can see the outside seam that is double sewn. 
If your tear is close to the side, make sure you have enough room to sew around the edge comfortably. Trim the side of your patch slightly, or move your patch over a smidgen, to avoid sewing over the outside leg seam. Now that you've placed and pinned your patch you are ready to sew. 
3. Thread your machine with your coordinating threads. Have your scissors handy. Insert your open pant leg under your needle. The side of the pant leg with the patch will be on top of the sewing machine plate, and the back of the pant leg will be underneath. This way you don't sew through the whole pant leg. 
(Pardon my walking foot! I was working with some PUL and I found it's much easier to sew on with a walking foot. I was feeling too lazy to switch it out for a regular foot. )

 Using a zigzag stitch, sew all the way around the edge of your patch, turning your pants as needed.
Be sure to go over the beginning/end a few times to secure your stitches.

4. Once you've got your patch sewn on, trim any loose threads. Now we're going to sew your pants back together. 

5. This step can be alternated with step 6. So read through before you go on! Turn your pants back inside out.
Lining up the edges that you ripped open, sew them back up with your serger. You can see this done in the picture below. I simply went over the edges that I ripped. No trimming needed. I didn't take a picture of that step! If you don't have a serger, you can use your sewing machine set to a zigzag stitch to do the same thing. However, if you choose to do the zigzag stitch, you might want to start with step #6 to avoid the fabric slipping and your inseam ending up slightly off than it was originally.

 6. You will probably be able to see where you ripped out the seam in step 1. Line up your needle with those stitch marks and sew your seam back together. Trim any loose threads. 

And there you have it! The seam is all sewn back together. Good as new. Plus a fancy patch.
 Turn them back right side out and they are good to go for some more fun boy wear-and-tear.
If you have questions, or suggestions, or need clarification please feel free to ask in the comments. 

Happy patching,

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