The BEST Denim Patch Hack

5 Materials
30 Minutes

If your distressed denim are looking like they're... well, a year into a global pandemic and you'd like to restore them to their original slightly busted glory - this tutorial is for you! It includes an amazing hack (I discovered by accident) that will make your mend last and make your jeans even more comfortable to wear!

These secondhand non-stretch denim are one of my favorite pair, but when the distressing at the knee spanned nearly the whole distance from seam to seam I was feeling distressed too.

The distressing on the opposite knee already had a sashiko-style mend pattern on it so I decided to implement something similar to my patch.

"The Conscious Closet" by Elizabeth L. Cline is a great resource for practical sustainable fashion tips including simple mends if you're a beginner! Highly recommend!

At this point you can decide if you're going for a more visible mend or if you'd like the patch to match or blend with the denim you're repairing. You'll see that I opted for a darker blue patch, but used light blue thread so that the overall neutral "denim" blue feeling remained. White, black or red thread or floss would be a great option if you're going for more contrast!

Step 1 - Cut away any loose fray. Use a sharp scissors to trim the loose thread and, if desired, any irregularities in the hole. (In hindsight I wish I had trimmed away the little flap of fabric I'm holding down.)

Step 2 - My hack! Create your patch from a pair of *kids* stretch denim - either your own child's outgrown pair or a pair you pick up secondhand (expect to spend less than you would for a pack of patches from the craft store)! You could also use a pair of your own or thrifted women's stretch denim, but the stretch is the key! And kids' items 1/3 - 1/2 the cost!

Measure the approximate width and height of the hole you're patching to determine how large your patch needs to be adding at least a 1/2 inch to each dimension.

Step 3 - Flip your jeans inside out and pin the patch over the hole with the right side down. Carefully flip your jeans right side out and ensure the patch is covering the hole the way you intended.

Use a running stitch along the edge of the hole to secure the patch in place. (If a less visible mend is desired, you can remove the pins, turn the jeans inside out again, and trim away any excess from the patch. You're done!)

Step 4 - Select your desired thread or string color (3-4 strand embroidery floss would give a bolder stitch pattern) and begin a vertical (or horizontal) running stitch approximately 1/2 inch from the edge of the hole. Stitch in even rows all the way across the hole, always extending 1/2 from the edge or you can create a neat rectangular design.

*Remember to run any transition stitches from one row or column to the next UNDER the denim so they're not visible - see examples where I did NOT do this at the top edge of my mend.

The more contrast there is between your denim/patch color and you thread, the more precise you may want to be. Tailor's chalk could be used to plan your lines/stitches in advance.

Step 5 - Tie off the string on the back of the patch. Flip the jeans inside out to trim away any excess fabric from the patch.

Enjoy your custom distressed denim!

I patched these jeans months ago and they've held up perfectly! Using pre-owned stretch denim for the patch means it is already pre-shrunk and pre-faded. It also makes wearing the very popular non-stretch denim so much more comfortable because there's some "give" right where you need it at the knee.

Give this hack a try the next time your denim needs mended to save two pairs from the landfill!

Suggested materials:

  • Scissors
  • Sewing needle
  • Pre-owned stretch denim
See all materials

Join the conversation

4 of 18 comments
  • Bama Amy
    Bama Amy
    on Feb 22, 2021

    Yes! I’ve been mending my jeans forever bc I can’t do my best work w/out getting on my knees... I’ve never thought about using kid’s stretch jeans, etc which makes sense on knees + elbows... My favorite stitch is the chain, possibly called blanket stitch... I will try mending using stretching material scraps + trying using my stitch in the middle of the patch. My question is about the type of needle you use, since denim is so thick + tuff... Sorry I forgot how to explain how chain stitch is made... When you are bringing the needle up from the inside you take your thread thru the loop to make this beautiful stitch, resembling a chain... Typically I would do this on the sides where the fabrics would fray or ravel, securing them together... I could see a circle design in the middle of the patch, a swirling effect...even a square swirl...

    Most of my jeans are work jeans so I wouldn’t take time to design their patches

    but occasionally I’m lazy + I might forget or just be too lazy to change into work jeans. So on these occasions, I’ll remember your tips, thanks!

    • Projectyourbest
      on Feb 22, 2021

      Great question about the needle! I was able to use just a regular sewing needle because the kids' jeans that I created the patch from were VERY soft, almost like a knit. My jeans that I was mending were standard non-stretch cotton but even the stitches on that section of the mend were very manageable. You'll definitely get the best (or easiest) results with a needle that matches your fabric, but this project is definitely doable with almost anything you have!

  • Ann
    on Mar 26, 2021

    Maybe the trend of sewing leather patches on the holes in jeans will come back into style! That’s what we did in early 1970s!

Your comment...