Thrifty Thursday: Patching Kids Jeans

I used to buy all of Henry’s jeans used and then I passed them on to E.  But there comes an age when you can no longer find any used jeans in your son’s size.  It starts around 4T and there is a virtual jean desert until… well, H wears a 6 slim and I still can’t find them.  Because boys this age are HARD on jeans.

I have not been able to pass jeans down either.  By the time one boy is done with them, there is only enough jean left for shorts, if I’m lucky.  Besides that, E is determined to keep growing and seems to be catching up to his older brother.  They are only one size apart now.  Some things fit both of them.

All of this is to tell you that patching jeans has become an important skill in this house.

Here is a quick tutorial of how I keep my boys’ knees covered through the winter.  This method give the jeans that popular “destroyed” look, except they are hole-free and will hold up for a few more months.

Here we have a pair on holey jeans…

Holey Jeans

I have yet to buy a patch, instead I have cut “patches” from the lower legs and backs of jeans that were too holey to be repaired.  I use pinking shears to cut a piece of denim large enough to cover the hole.  If you don’t have any jeans to cut from, you can buy jean patches at a fabric store.

Pin your patch to the inside of the jeans, with the pins on the outside so you can pull them out as you sew.

Pin patch to inside

My sewing machine has this crazy stitch.  All machines are different, but select the craziest stitch you have.

Select crazy stitch

Next I remove the accessories box that allows my machine to have a free arm…

Free the arm

And then I slide the leg of the jeans over the arm.  This is so that I can stitch the patch on without sewing through the whole leg, closing it on accident.

Slide leg over

Now start sewing.  You are going to stitch all over the hole and the patch.  Back-stitch is your friend, because with the jeans over the arm like this you can’t turn them at all.

Crazy stitch all over the hole

I found it helpful to stick my left hand in the top of the jeans and use my right hand to operate the back-stitch lever.  Now sew, sew, sew.  Cover the entire hole and all around it.

Back stich a lot

Almost done.  Sew like crazy.

view from inside

After the patch is covered with crazy stitches, slide the jeans off the machine arm, turn inside out and trim any excess patch away.

All done!  A little extra life with a rough and tough patch for your kids’ jeans!

All done

Depending on the thread you use, you can really make the patch stand out with contrasting thread, or disappear if you can get a good color match.  I have about four different blues.  I try to get close, but thankfully, my boys are at an age where they really don’t care either way.

Do you patch kids’ clothes?  What tips do you have?

Categories: DIY, Thrift | 8 Comments

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8 thoughts on “Thrifty Thursday: Patching Kids Jeans

  1. Your method looks great! Like Mother Like Daughter had a genius idea on patching jeans as well… she undoes the outside seam (that one that’s a regular seam) to turn the fabric all the way around and then restitches it on the machine.
    Alas, my boys are outgrowing their pants faster than they can make holes in them right now…

  2. Cass

    I mostly patch my husband’s jeans and mine, (no kiddo’s yet, but i’ve done some sewing for my nephew too). i often use patches made from 2-3 layers of flannel (i have more of that than jeans material). Now i couldn’t care less what mine look like when they’re done because mostly i paint in mine so whatever.
    My hubby likes the contrast of the flannel inside the holes. I pink or serge the edges of my patches and then do a wide zig zag around the edge of the patch, around the edge of the hole, then randomly across and around the patch till nothing is loose. (my machine doesn’t have an arm option or fancy stitches, it’s from the 50s or 60s).

  3. I miss the days when we had hand-me-down jeans. I have four boys and we go through a lot of jeans. I try to buy them on sale and stock up. I don’t patch them very often, but I have decided that I’m not buying shorts anymore. I just cut the jeans off and hem them to make shorts.

    My machine is pretty old too, and I’m not very good at figuring out how to do different stitches. Maybe that should be a goal this year. 🙂

  4. Rose

    I tried this out on a pair of my son’s holey jeans this weekend. My husband said they looked better than his mother’s patches! Thanks for the great tutorial!

  5. Hi Anisa,
    Your blog made me giggle, because that is exactly what I am experiencing too; I always thought that having three boys would make it easy to pass their clothes on from one to the next. And that does work…, until they turn four. My boys are now 9, 7, and 5, and it doesn’t look like it is getting any better soon either. So believe me, I know what a hole in pants looks like.

    But because I am always short on time (and I’m not as good on the sewing machine as you obviously are), I was looking for a solution as easy as the old denim iron ons, but better quality and more FUN.

    And so I designed and developed my own iron-on patches. Check them out at It may be a good addition to your list for moms and dads who are not as sew-savvy :).


    P.S. I’d be happy to send you some so you can test them.

  6. Kristine Toler

    Thanks so much! This is great… Easy and cheap!! Will be trying it out this afternoon. I have about six pairs of jeans to patch on almost the exact same sizes (size6-8 boys jeans) 😀. This is a good money saving tip to get me through until summer at least.

  7. Love your DIY work for your daughter. That’s so decent way of patching.

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