Mending Old Clothes with a Personal Touch: A Tutorial

by Judy Tucker in

Mending. It was something my mother did and a skill she taught me. But as the 1900s came to an end, clothing became “disposable” and folks stopped mending and started throwing worn or torn clothing away.

The pendulum as swung back with the Millennials who love to thrift! Japanese mending methods are being used to restore and accent old clothes. There are at least 3 books on mending that have been recently published. Imagine that! I’m intrigued. I’ve ordered two of them (the third, just published in the fall of 2018 is out of print but still available as an e-book).

But I wanted to try a patch before I read what others are doing. So here’s a short tutorial for the patch I made for this pair of much loved ( and no longer available) flannel-lined Chino pants. Photos of the steps are shown below the instructions.


  • Item to be mended

  • Some fabric, preferably the same fiber content as the item to be mended

  • #8 Perle Cotton thread

  • Embroidery thread if you wish to embellish the patch

  • Sharp large eye needle

  • Sewing pins and an iron


  1. Measure the hole you want to mend. Add at least 1/2 inch on all sides to allow for a 1/4 inch seam and a bit of extra fabric to be sure the hole is really covered.

  2. Cut out the patch, then turn under the edges 1/4 inch on all four sides and iron.

  3. Pin the patch over the hole

  4. Thread the needle and knot the end of the thread. Run the needle through the fabric from the wrong side to start sewing. Stitch around the four sides of the patch using a simple in-and-out running stitch.

  5. Your patch is now attached. You could stop here. Or you may keep sewing to make a patch that is stronger and more decorative. I chose to keep sewing, and decided to sew in parallel lines. I can make straight even stitches (I'm a quilter!) but I had problems with the double thick seams in the pant leg. The stitching was OK, but I didn’t love it. So I added the light blue embroidered flower which improved it.

I’m very happy with my newly mended pants! The patch is fun and utilitarian,. I know it’s not a work of beauty which is totally fine for a pair of knock-around-in old pants.

Back in action!

Back in action!

I’m looking forward to seeing the two books I ordered this week. I know from online previews that they do show how to do some truly beautiful mending. I can’t wait!