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Sewing Repair Tips

No matter how careful you are, losing a button or tearing a hole in your favorite pair of pants is a fact of life. Clothing repairs happen to the best of us, no matter if your wardrobe is handmade or bought off the rack at the mall.

Here are some sewing repair tips to ease the pain:

A lost button is a common repair and fortunately an easy fix. Most clothing items purchased at a store will come with a spare button or two. I like to keep these in the little plastic bags they come in and store them separately from the rest of my button stash. You can even label the bags so you’ll know if that particular clothing item is still in your closet or if it’s been donated. When purchasing buttons for an item you’ve sewn for yourself, make sure there’s a spare button or two. You could leave them on the card or tuck them into a tiny plastic bag and store them with the rest of your spares. If you don’t keep the extra buttons or make sure you have a spare or two, you might find yourself replacing all of the buttons on your favorite shirt– and that’s a much more time-consuming process.

My least favorite clothing repair is the tiny holes that mysteriously show up on my t-shirts or my husband’s polos. Over the years, I’ve perfected my approach. While I rarely manage to completely disguise the hole (which is probably impossible with knit fabric, anyway), I am able to make it much less noticeable (which is preferable to throwing away an otherwise perfectly good shirt). First, I make sure to bring the item with me when picking out the thread at the craft store (trying to do it from memory never works out well). Then, I use the finest needle possible and keep the thread doubled. Starting from the wrong side of the garment, I come up on one side of the hole and push the needle down on the other side, repeating until the hole is filled in.

Split seams are another common sewing repair. I prefer to repair these on the sewing machine, if possible (unless the split is only about an inch or so; then it’s easier to do it by hand). Make sure you are matching thread and seam allowance as much as possible, and be sure to backtack over the original stitches to make sure everything is secure and you don’t have more stitches popping out.

While definitely not as common as a missing button or a split seam, one of my favorite sewing repair tips is the use of patches. Patches can extend the life of a well-worn piece of clothing, but they can also be a nice detail added to give an item new life. For items like denim jeans and work pants, you can find pre-made patches to match at craft stores. These are easy to use and you’ll just need an iron. But for a much-loved sweater with a holey elbow, you’ll need to get a bit more creative. You can make your own elbow patches from scraps of leather or suede; contrasting stitching can be a nice touch, as well. Be sure to check out my tips for hand sewing leather.

If your clothes are beyond repair, be sure to check out the Bluprint online class Project Upcycle to learn how to transform them into something completely different.

Do you have any favorite sewing repair tips?

Be sure to return to the Bluprint blog tomorrow to learn how to gather fabric!



I like to use Fray Check on all holes/tears to prevent the threads from further raveling. It’s like Super Glue for fabrics. It doesn’t wash out or leave a stiff feeling to the fabric. Many years ago before I retired from teaching, I was cutting paper at the paper cutter and I had on a a jacket that had sleeves with Velcro closures on the tabs. I accidentally sliced through the tab that held the Velcro! So I whipped stitched the piece back together on both sides and applied Fray Check and it’s still held together to this very day. It dries clear and you don’t even notice it even after many washings. It’s a great product and I have used it many times.

Tina LeB

Great article, Julia, Thanks!


Since I own a sewing &alterations shop I have seen it all. Two tips. First , if
you get extra buttons with an item , sew them to the little tag at the side seam. This makes them easy to find when you need them.Handy if you are on a trip when button breaks. Also , check there first if you lose one. On men’s shirts check the bottom of the button band. Often there are a couple spares there.


For a really sturdy backing on a ripped seam or even to reinforce tie straps that will get lots of wear and stress, I’ve been using scrap pieces of heavy duty power net, the stuff I use for the bands and back pieces on bras, underneath or hidden in the seam. I don’t think there’s any stronger fabric available! I’ve just finished repairing a BBQ cover seam like this and I plan on repairing a ripped seam in our gazebo roof the same way.

Suzy Bj

What is “heavy duty power net” ?

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