Mending Time: Adult Pants Problems

Okay, I gave you a break for a while from sewing posts after I finished my interminable skirt project, but sewing is BACK.

I posted a while back about my never-ending quest to mend the knees of the boys’ pants. New rule: They wear shorts any morning with no frost. (We’ve had some upper-forties mornings and I sent them out in fleeces and shorts. They have not complained.) I mentioned that some of the pants were not salvageable and that I kept them to cut up for patches.

And with those patches, I did some adult pants mending projects. Since Mr. FP and I neither grow nor (as Big Brother seems to) walk on our knees over sandpaper, our problems were different. His work khakis were frayed at the hem, and my jeans were worn at the inside thigh to the extent that I worried they would give up the ghost altogether at some awkward moment. Since I hate shopping, hemming new pants (I’m 4’11”), and spending money on clothes, it offends me to throw away garments with only one weakness. Mending time!

Frayed pants hem in front and back.

Frayed pants hem in front and back.

Wearing thin in a crucial area.

Wearing thin in a crucial area.

First, the frayed hem. Now, the easiest thing to do would have been to pick out the hem and make them half an inch shorter, but understandably, he liked his pants the length they were. So I used this helpful online tutorial. The basic steps involved were:

  1. Picking out the hem and ironing it flat.
  2. Patching the ripped area. I used an old pair of toddler khakis, but the color is not important as it will not be seen. First, you attach the patch with a little Stitch Witchery, then you zigzag stitch it in place.
  3. Re-hemming the pants. You will need to turn the patched area under, but just a smidge. The pants wound up only about 1/4 inch shorter.
Hem picked out, ready for repair. This step can be completed at the playground!

Hem picked out, ready for repair. This step can be completed at the playground!

The patched hem will naturally be stiffer, and it does not hold a crease as well. I found that going very easy on the Stitch Witchery will reduce the stiffness a bit. Mr. FP is a pretty picky individual, and he has not complained about the stiffer hem. I think he has long since forgotten I patched them at all! I made this repair several months ago, and it is holding up extremely well. The rest of the pants are still in excellent condition, so I was psyched to be able to save them.

This is what the finished repair looks like on the inside.

This is what the finished repair looks like on the inside.

Next up: inner thigh repair. It is not surprising that the inner thigh is worn, considering that I wear these pants for short bike rides. One blog I consulted suggested just tucking a little bias tape into the seam, where the worst fraying is, but I knew better. If there’s one thing I learned from trying to patch the boys’ pants, it’s that with patches, you go big or go home.

So I cut a patch from Big Brother’s old jeans. Again, this is an internal patch and won’t be seen, but I figured that denim would be a good choice as it would be a similar weight. I cut the patch large enough to cover the whole frayed area and pinned it in place.


The tutorial I consulted advised that I NOT finish the edge of the patch before sewing it in place, as that would make it too bulky. Instead, when I sewed it down, I used a zigzag, finishing and attaching in one step. (It looks like the author did it with a straight stitch, which would show less on the outside but provide less fray protection.) The tutorial was written by a lady who wears size 26 jeans; mine are size 6 “skinny” leg, which makes it trickier, but by no means impossible, to wrangle them on the sewing machine. I’m improving: I have not accidentally sewed together a pants leg in several months.

I added an extra line of stitching next to the inner thigh seam in order to secure that area, and I was all set, confident that my pants would not let me down at an awkward moment.


Inside view of repair after a few washings.


Outside view of patched area. Hard to see the stitching even if you’re looking right at it, but I hear that really classy people use a blind stitch.

Several months later, I noticed a new threadbare area. I secured this by zigzag stitching back and forth over it before it could run any larger. Meanwhile, the other leg is getting more and more worn, so I patched it, too.


Before second repair.


After repair. I might even go back and do a few more rows.

(MOM: I can hear you suggesting that maybe I should buy new jeans. I assure you, I have already done so. I have nice shiny new work jeans and am keeping these for biking and whatnot, so as to preserve my work jeans.)

Do you mend your favorite clothes? How do you keep your clothes lasting longer?


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About frugalparagon

I'm a part-time librarian and mom to two small boys. I blog about striving for the long-term goal of financial independence while running a tight ship at home.

7 responses to “Mending Time: Adult Pants Problems”

  1. Mrs PoP says :

    Nice! My sewing skills (and tools) are significantly less than yours, so I usually use iron on patches and aim to get them on before holes and iron them on the inside. Definitely extends the life of jeans, which is great because they’re usually starting to get to that super soft old denim phase when areas (for me it’s the butt next to the pockets!) start to wear thin.

    • frugalparagon says :

      Well, getting those iron-on patches to stay put without sewing is a skill I have yet to master, so you’ve got me there! I agree, it would be a shame to get rid of jeans just when they are getting nice and soft. My new jeans are very stiff–great for work or going out, not at all suitable for bike riding or lounging around the house.

  2. Amy K (RelaxedGal on the MMM forums) says :

    I did a flurry of mending last Wednesday and thought of you! There were 2 pairs of jeans in the pile. One had split on the butt between the center seam and the pocket, about 5 inches. I tried to just zigzag it closed. When that failed I reinforced with light blue woven fabric inside (think button-down shirt material) secured with a straight stitch 1/4″ and again 1/2″ away from the tear and then zigzagged again in place. We’ll see how that holds, which will depend in part on how much I wear the jeans. The fix is pretty obvious to me -even though I used “denim” thread it’s darker than the jeans. The other pair had worn through the knee. I used a large iron on patch and then sewed around it with a straight stitch. Moderately obvious because the knee is pretty faded and again the denim thread is darker, also because the iron on patches are so stiff!

    I also experimented with Rit dye to darken some jeans. Tip: use Black in addition to or instead of the Denim Blue. I dyed 3 pair: one for me that I’d gotten as hand-me-downs and were lighter than is currently fashionable (medium stonewash), one of my husband’s that he ordered online too light (light stonewash) and one of my daughter’s that I found in a box of hand-me-downs and hoped she’d wear (even lighter stonewash!). 2 bottles of dye, 4 lbs of fabric, and I have various shades of periwinkle. I think my daughter can carry off hers because she’s 4, mine had enough denim color that I think it will pass, but my husband… no. Just… no. Adding a bottle of black would have helped all three “pass’ for dark denim.

  3. Amy K (RelaxedGal on the MMM forums) says :

    I was looking at Old Navy for new jeans and OHO! Mended jeans and lighter wash are in, what gives?

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