Sewing adventures: Repairing rips in two favorite items

I don’t post sewing adventures all that often, but there’s a pattern to when I do — they occur during break times during the school year! Why? Because that’s when I have time, and the mental energy, to get caught up on sewing projects. 😉 So much of sewing is about the prep work.

For this sewing adventures post, I am detailing how I recently mended rips in two of my favorite clothing items. If I can save or extended clothing by simple repairs, I try it out; and if I don’t succeed, then at least I have made my best effort. And it was a timely post to remind myself how to do simple sewing repairs like mending tears in clothing.

Here’s a video that I found useful in illustrated how to mend tears by hand, using needle and thread:

Repairing my vintage Hawai’ian dress

The first item I repaired is this vintage Hawai’ian dress — the tag actually says “Made in Hawaii” — that my friend Stephanie fashion-swapped with me. I loooooove it, and was totally bummed when I accidentally ripped a bit in the right shoulder.

Librarian for Life + Style | Mixing old + new in a Hawaiian print dress

Librarian for Life + Style | Hawaiian label

Link to original outfit post:  Mixing old + new | Hawaiian print dress

The tricky part about this tear was that it was on both sides of the fabric, front and back, as you can see in the “before” pics below. Plus, the fabric had ripped across a side seam. If the tear had been on the back side of the dress, I wouldn’t have felt such trepidation in attempting a repair. So I went slowly and cautiously with the mending method illustrated in the video above, going through both sides of the fabric with matching red thread. (I was so nervous that I forgot to take photos of my stitches before I pulled everything tight!)

Librarian for Life + Style | Sewing adventures: Repairing a tear in my vintage Hawaiian dress

Librarian for Life + Style | Sewing adventures: Repairing a tear in my vintage Hawaiian dress

I was careful to choose thread that pretty much exactly matched the orangey-red background of the print. (Side note:  Isn’t this print the cutest?! You can understand why I wanted to save this vintage dress!)

Because the rip was on both sides, I did an extra layer of mending stitching on the back side of the rip, but I just used a simple whip-stitch for that back side and seam.

Librarian for Life + Style | Sewing adventures: Repairing a tear in my vintage Hawaiian dress

Librarian for Life + Style | Sewing adventures: Repairing a tear in my vintage Hawaiian dress

The final step is ironing the edges of the mended repair, so that it is flatter and less noticeable. I am pleased with the final result! As you can see in the “after” pics below, the mended bit is not that noticeable (it’s low on the right shoulder).

Librarian for Life + Style | Sewing adventures: Repairing a tear in my vintage Hawaiian dress

Librarian for Life + Style | Wearing my red Hawaiian dress after repairing it

Repairing my denim jacket

Earlier this summer, I discovered halfway through the work day that I had ripped the left elbow of my beloved denim jacket, the lighter denim one with the seaming and shaping. I was extremely self-conscious the rest of the day, with my left elbow hanging out and the rip getting wider and wider. (And I had worn the denim jacket over a sports bra, so I couldn’t take off the jacket.)

I’ve had this denim jacket for years, and it’s a VIP in my closet. Here are different ways I’ve worn it:

Librarian for Life + Style | Denim jacket remix collage

Links to original posts:
top left  //  top middle  //  top right
bottom left  //  bottom middle  //  bottom right

Here is a closeup of the tear, which ripped in two spots, up and down AND across. The denim in the elbows is admittedly quite thin at this point, due to the frequency of which I wear this denim jacket.

Librarian for Life + Style | Sewing adventures: Repairing a tear in my denim jacket

The first step was to iron down the rip so the edges fit together more neatly.

Librarian for Life + Style | Sewing adventures: Repairing a tear in my denim jacket

Below is a closeup of the mending method illustrated in the video at the top of this post. I started out with the side rip, but honestly, looking back, I think I should have started with the vertical rip first. Live and learn!

Librarian for Life + Style | Sewing adventures: Repairing a tear in my denim jacket

Librarian for Life + Style | Sewing adventures: Repairing a tear in my denim jacket

I then slowly went back and forth on the vertical tear. It looks kinda cool at this stage, doesn’t it? 😉 I also used thicker thread for this repair, due to the thicker denim material.

Librarian for Life + Style | Sewing adventures: Repairing a tear in my denim jacket

Librarian for Life + Style | Sewing adventures: Repairing a tear in my denim jacket

Above is a collage of “after” pics. Once again, you can tell what a difference ironing makes on the end result!

Librarian for Life + Style | Sewing adventures: Repairing a tear in my denim jacket

I don’t know how much longer this mending attempt — or the other elbow — will hold up, so I have to stay realistic. However, if/when one or both elbows go out again, and if the jacket is still repairable, I have decided to try elbow patches. Won’t those look cute? This denim jacket is designed so well, with its structured seaming, that it’s worth saving at all possible costs!

Have you been able to save beloved clothing items by doing simple mending? Please leave a comment and share. 🙂


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6 thoughts on “Sewing adventures: Repairing rips in two favorite items

  1. Brenda N

    Hi Jen, this is a great post. I actually love mending & hand sewing is one of my few strong sewing skills! I like the challenge of finding the best approach & the perfect color thread, as you’ve demonstrated here. Sometimes an iron-on patch does the trick, but they don’t always last. Also, your vintage Hawaiian dress is fantastic. 🙂

    Reply
  2. Sarca

    Love the Hawaiian dress – very cute. I have fixed rips in jeans and small tears in t-shirts, but I am going to bookmark that video. I also have a nap sack that has seen better days that I keep repairing, but I just can’t part with it – 23 years strong!

    Reply
  3. Jessica

    i love the Hawaiian vintage dress, so glad you were able to mend it.
    The denim jacket will look so cute with elbow patches!

    Reply

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