Sewing Vloggers

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Is It Invisible?


Jeans all mended. 

I have really enjoyed being home since  retired. I am getting back in the  groove of household planning and organization and it feels good. Plenty of time for creativity is built into my schedule. Each day of the week has a focus and each week that focus can change based on needs and season. This week I pulled out the last of the winter clothing and planned a day to get it all washed and ironed as needed. Done! I planned the next day for the inevitable mending I found and a bit of more purging. I mentioned that to Hubs and he showed up as I sat on the couch  reading my latest Threads and handed me an extremely worn pair of jeans. He said, "these are my jeans for working outside and they are so comfortable. They have holes everywhere and I can't wear them anymore. Can you fix them?" You bet I can and I added it to my mending pile for the next day. 

Jeans crotch before mending. Left hole is the size of a quarter. Right hole is the size of a dime. 

The crotch on these jeans had the typical "ball burn" . It went right into the heavy seams. 

Pocket hole was about dime size and extending into the pocket corner. 

The fabric around the back pocket was just disappearing. It also needed repair and reinforcement. I found other little issues here and there but figured I would get through his requests first, judge the reaction and go further from there. These jeans are probably twenty years old. 

My mending tools. 

The way I wanted to mend the hole would require comfortable space to work on the sewing machine. That meant opening up the seams in the surrounding crotch area and removing some of the pocket. These are the tools I used to make this task easier. I will go left to right.

First is my box cutter blade. I use these a lot,  and their very sharp corner makes ripping serger and flat felled seams much easier. I simply lay the garment down on a flat surface and push that point into the well of the fold on the right side of the garment. I pick a little bit with the point and open up a few stitches. I then go right down to the second seam of the this double topstitching and break a few stitches inside the fold for that row of stitching. If I place my box cutter blade just right and keep the garment flat to the table, I usually can just slide the blade right down, in that well of the fold, and open both seams and the serging all in one pass. If not, the cutter blade will still let me make short work of slicing out the threads from this type of jeans seam.  Just be careful. This is not your Dad's single edge razor!  It did not take long at all to open up the seams. No slipped rips happened. 

You will often find areas of topstitching, like the bar tack at the end of the above topstitching, that will defy the blade and make it work too hard.  Forcing the blade to do what it doesn't want to could be dangerous, soooooo, I have another tool for that. It would be my pink tool, second from the left. This little number has been a great help in the sewing room since I found it at Rite Aid. It is an eyebrow shaver. Really. I saw them on sale. They come four to a pack, small money and are brilliant for shaving out threads that are stubborn and don't want to be removed by cutting or blades. You simply shave those little bar tacks a few times and boom!--the threads fall apart and you pick them out with  your tweezers or awl, third and fourth from the right.  Next in line are my Kai tiny curved scissors. They are so pointy they are dangerous. They are great to sneak into the fold and clip something that might be holding up the unsewing here. Wonderful tool and probably the most dangerous thing on the table. 

The next and last item I used to mend the pants that won't die are my flat nose little jewelry pliers. I got to the hard, thick lump of the zipper bottom area and the machine would go no further. I was able to backstitch by hand with my big needle but could not push or pull it through the rock solid denim. Saved by the pliers! I grabbed the shaft of the threaded hand needle and put its point where I wanted it to sink in to make a back stitch. I held it with the flat head pliers and pushed the fabric down the shaft to get it through the denim. I then let go, turned the  fabric over and used the pliers to pull the needle through and was able to finish off the line of topstitching over that really nasty bump of fabric under the zipper, right exactly where the former topstitching had been. 

Completed pocket mend.

More notion comments and my process:

After opening all the seams I went to the ironing board. I had a very light blue tightly woven cotton that I cut into an approximate shape larger than the hole. It would show thru the hole and I wanted it to match the area of the jeans.  It would also serve as reinforcement. I pressed it on to a piece of  Steam A Seam Lite the same size, right side to glue SAS. I then trimmed this to the size of the hole but larger by about a half inch and pinked the edges. The paper was peeled off and the sticky side and right side/blue was placed on the wrong side of the jeans over the hole. I then took a piece of woven fusible, slightly larger than the patch and pinked and pressed that into place over the patch. These two layers of patch on the inside of the pants got fused down well with the iron. 

Turn the pants over and back to the top. Now for the thread. I use regular thread for the darning part. It hides better into the fabric.  For the hole near the pocket corner,  stitches were removed so I could peel that side of the pocket back and have plenty of space to work under the machine needle. Thread color is tricky. Denim always has white warp or weft. I forget which. I start with a white thread, even on darker jeans. I go back and forth with small stitches, like 1.5, in the white thread. I sew in the direction of the twill.  I then change to something that is similar to the majority color of the jeans. In this case the palest blue I had worked. If you have any denim anywhere to practice your thread colors, do it. You will be surprised at the colors that work here. It is almost never ever what is sold for jeans colored blue thread. I tried 3 or 4 colors before I bravely tried the baby blue and it worked. Remember, best results come with sewing WITH the twill, not against it. Sometimes, however, it is unavoidable to sew against the twill. 

Now for needles and topstitching thread! This was all against common sense.  I had the exact same jeans topstitching thread in my machine as on the jeans. It was H E A V Y. I put in my size 18 topstitching denim needle. Sharp and big. You would think that was what would work, right? I sewed. I would stop my machine as it would not sew through the thick stuff.  Frustrations. I decided to try something that worked for me when I fixed a friend's  super heavy ski jacket with it's waterproof thick zipper. Same issues. I went opposite and it worked beautifully. I changed to regular thread, put in a much smaller size 14 Microtex needle, and changed my stitch to the triple stitch. The one that goes over itself 3 times.  Or is it 2? No matter. It worked like a dream. The needle went through like butter and the stitches looked fine. I find when I do this I have to make the stitch length much longer than I plan. It just always seems to short. I used a 4.5 stitch length and it looked like a 3.5. So use a shorter needle, regular thread and the triple stitch.  It would have been easy to blame my machine and say it could not handle the heavy denim layers. Wrong! Think for a minute. If you were a couple of mice squeezing thru a hole to get into a space, who would get thru the hole? The big fat mouse or the little skinny mouse?  That is my new theory for sewing heavy fabrics and it is working great. Use a smaller, sharper needle and a finer thread. Done. With the heavy triple stitch my topstitching looked pretty close to the original and if anyone is close enough to notice any difference, they deserve more than a swat from the wearer's wife!

I've always enjoyed mending, having that basket next to me while I laze away stitching in front of the tube, a rare treat. Usually it takes at the most an afternoon. It's a great feeling to see that basket empty out. I celebrated with a glass of  Pinot and felt very accomplished when I looked at that empty basket. I will  now  let it take a few months to fill up again before I have another go at it. .......................Happy Mending! Bunny


  1. That is quite impressive - truly, I had to go back and look to find the repairs. Thank you for the detailed explanation of how you accomplished that, I will be using that information in the near future.

    1. Glad to help,Angela. With six brothers, my sis and I learned to fix their jeans a long time ago. I just kind of figured this out as time went by. It' interesting how that mouse analogy works out.

  2. Bunny, this is brilliant! My DH's jeans wear out in the crotch every time, and he's always asked me to repair them, but I'm not confident with my mending in such a sensitive area (I have done some lovely patches to reattach buttons where the fabric is worn through, if I do say so myself! :D). Do you have any tips for those crotch repairs? Thanks!! (Stirwatersblue from PR)

    1. I know I don't care to back repairs with more denim. I've done that in the past, even for myself, and I find it too stiff and bulky to wear and to work through. I like to back with a tightly woven cotton. A batik would be a good example. I stick that on with Steam A Seam so I can get the color of the fabric face up in the hole to match. Then I peel the backing paper from the patch and fuse a piece of woven interfacing on top of that. It is larger than the first patch. This is then well fused down with an iron and pressing both sides well. It is secure and not thick like denim and more comfortable to wear.

    2. My other comment about the crotch would be to open up the seams. It makes it so much easier to work with and therefore get better results.

    3. Oh, thank you! So the woven interfacing goes against the skin? Do you do any stitching to the patch?

    4. Yes. and I use usually SF101 which I don't normally use for good garment sewing but it is fine for this.

  3. Some might say "A blog post about MENDING???", but I loved reading and seeing your techniques. And the great satisfaction when a sewist can hand a beloved garment back to the wearer for more years of service!

    When jeans are no longer mendable (it does finally happen - sob), I salvage the zipper, any usable fabric, still-intact pockets, and particularly the belt loops for future mending tasks.

    And thank you for the tips on matching thread colors, using the triple stitch, and the box cutter blade!

    1. You are welcome, Silver Mom. Those old jeans can really come in handy, all the parts. I have a great jacket I really had fun putting together all out of pieces.

  4. Machine darning is the only mending I enjoy. It’s like machine embroidery except there’s no pressure to be artistic! I have the same little pliers and use them every time I sew, needle grabbing, thread grabbing. Necessary!

  5. I have those Kai bent blade scissors. When I bought them I could afford only the bent or the straight. I went with the bent on the theory that they could do the work of the straight, plus some special needs. Not disappointed in them yet.

  6. I never thought to try a finer needle when working on denim, but I'm looking forward to trying it out. Your posts are always full of great information!


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