Sewing Patches

This project has brought back memories of my teenage years and a love for sewing patches, even back then. It seems, I never did out grow it.

What about wearing these patched creations? Am I too old for this? No, I plan on having at least part of me stay crazy and a little silly, forever. Do I want to be a teenager again? NO!


Age: 10 and up

Time scale: 1 - infinity and beyond

Difficulty: Easy (Mostly) Have Fun!

Make it harder, if you like a challenge


  • Ratty old pair of pants with wear holes or make tear holes if you wish. Jeans are best...Vintage red tag Levi's, even better!
  • sewing machine (or not, depending on which technique you choose)
  • Needle
  • pins
  • Thread
  • Embroidery thread
  • scissors

  • pinking shears (No, these aren't some special tool to remove the wool from pink sheep. They are just those scissors with the zigzag edges.)
  • variety of scrap pieces of material
  • lace
  • iron/ ironing board
  • heatnbond® Ultrahold
  • iron on patches (easy way out)
  • fabric glue
  • small pad of paper or heavy piece of cardboard

*Sewing patches can include a variety of techniques, so the supply list includes items you may not need. (Like things listed that are for a no sew option. Example: Iron on patches and fabric glue)

Many years ago, I had this old pair of Levi's that were hand me downs from my sister. The perfect, one in a million kind of jeans. They became very tattered and torn, but so comfy, I just couldn't part with them. I started sewing patches on them. After a while they were patched everywhere. Patches on patches. I even embroidered  a smiling sun face on one leg. I didn't know how to do embroidery, but I faked it! My one in a million pair of jeans had now become one of a kind.

One day, I went to the city with my Mom, wearing my lovely jeans. At the clothing store a snooty lady looked at my pants, rumpled up her face and gave me a disgusted snort. She turned to my Mother and gave her supreme what for. "That would be the day I would let my daughter dress like THAT! How disgusting!" she huffed.

Mom wasn't fazed in the slightest and quickly replied " I can think of a lot worse things she could be wearing. At least she has her skin covered and her rear end isn't hanging out." (Actually, I'm pretty sure she said  "@ss", not rear end.) When I think about this, it still makes me laugh!

Eventually the Levi's became too difficult to try to keep sewing patches on. They were retired to the rag bag. What a sad day!  Oh, how I wish, I still had these one of a kind jeans. I would frame them to hang on the wall. They would make me smile, every time I looked at them. 

Now, there is a pair of khaki green cargo pants, I'm very attached to. They are getting really worn out. The material is as thin as tissue paper in some spots. I can't find another pair like them, since they are supposedly out of style. I never really worry too much about what is in style. Who cares about that? Not me. In fact, I find it rather annoying.

Time for sewing patches, maybe even with material from Mom's vintage stash. I will try a variety of techniques for applying them.  Machine sewing, hand stitching and even some no sew options.

Am I trying to make a fashion statement? Hardly. It has nothing to do with fashion. (Obviously!) It is possibly a much more important statement. Is it about trying to be comfortable in my own skin, no matter what is covering it? Maybe a bit. I struggle with this. Aging complicates matters. When I finally think I have it almost figured out, a new wrinkle appears. Literally! 

So, as I work away sewing patches on these pants, I will think of being 14 again, a time when I was not so worried about pleasing everyone else. (When you become a Mom, worrying about everyone else becomes a full time job.)

Patches on jeans could have related to a bad memory. One of being ridiculed and humiliated by a stranger. Instead, Mom's response made it an event to reflect back on and laugh.

Sewing patches is therapy but so is wearing these scrappy pants.  I will wear them and just not give a hoot, what anyone thinks.

P.S. At least my rear end will be covered.


Sewing Patches

Here I go again. I have continued to patch pants over the years, but not any that have required multiple repairs, lately. Not until now, that is! The Levi jeans from long ago were fixed with all hand stitching. This time I tried different techniques. Some areas I decided to patch, before there were holes.

You can decide which method to choose. I will tell you what the pros and cons are for each one I tried.

Jeans are the easiest to patch and look good with the material placed under the hole and showing through. The cargo pants are lighter material that is a bit more difficult to salvage, especially when they are extremely worn.

If you really don't want to sew, you have three options. There are iron on patches, fabric glue and iron on adhesive sheets.

Aleene's Fabric Fusion:



  • Easy!
  • Don't need to know how to sew
  • For a quick fix
  • kid friendly option


  • Glued edge is a bit stiff
  • Doesn't withstand multiple washings well
  • Not as durable as sewing

This doesn't require much of an explanation. Add the glue to the fabric, place patch on and let dry.

Store bought iron on patch:



  • no other material required
  • Easy
  • Fast


  • Curled edges after washing
  • Very stiff
  • Limited color choice

Place a scrap piece of material behind the area that requires the patch. (example: If you are doing the knee, put the scrap material inside the pant leg.)

Iron pants in the area to be repaired.

Place patch over top, while material is still hot.

Iron patch in place.

Remove scrap material from underside.

It wasn't long after I applied this iron on patch and I had ripped another hole in my pants, right underneath.

Heatnbond® Ultrahold Adhesive sheet



  • Easy
  • Fast


  • Expensive
  • Makes material stiff
  • Difficult to sew over
  • Not as durable as sewing
  • May not withstand multiple washings (to be determined)

Instructions say "Materials can be machine washed if edges are sealed by painting." Say WHAT? I am a bit confused by this. Painting? Really?


Cut heatnbond into strips.

For an inside patch do the right side of material but not in the area that will be showing through on the pants. For an outside patch, apply to the wrong side.

Cut pieces of material so there is at least an inch all the way around the hole you are trying to cover.

Iron on. This does not need to be heated up a lot. Run the iron over it quickly, to get it to stick. Too hot or for too long, will be TOO much.

Peel off paper backing.


Pin the patch in place.

Iron slightly to stick in place.

Remove pins.

This time heat it up, so it is quite hot.

Let cool before moving.

Using a machine for sewing patches:



  • Can choose a variety of stitches
  • Holds fabric well
  • Provides extra strength to thin areas of material
  • Much faster than hand stitching


  • Need a sewing machine
  • Can be difficult to fit material under foot without catching unwanted material

Have you ever accidently sewed a leg shut?

  • Hard to keep material in place and smooth

Watch out for those pins!


If you are placing the patch under the hole, cut out the material using pinking shears. This will help prevent fraying.

A patch on the top side can have the material folded and ironed under a 1/4 inch, if you don't want the zig zag edge or you don't want the material to fray. I wanted the patches to fray, so I ripped the fabric. I then sewed back about an 1/8th-1/4 inch from the edge.  


Really thin material can have a piece of material put under the hole and then the top side can be zig zag stitched. I was a zig zag maniac, as you can see. To do this, just switch the machine from forward to backward from one side to the other, working your way down, as you go.

Some fancy circular pattern might have been nice, but that is very hard to do, on a pant leg. When you start changing the direction of the material, it can get all gobbed up. Rumples, can happen and things start getting sewn together, that shouldn't be. Try putting your pants on when you have sewn them shut! Ugh! Maybe the supply list should include a seam ripper for the oopsies?

Hand stitched:



  • Don't need a sewing machine
  • Can do just about anywhere
  • Inexpensive
  • Easier to sew in tight spots (Like on a pocket, without sewing the pocket shut)


  • Slower
  • Difficult to get the stitches even
  • Doesn't hold as well as machine stitching

Decide if you want edges that are frayed or smooth.

Prepare fabric pieces accordingly.

Place the fabric either on the inside or outside of the hole.

Pin in place.

My favorite trick: Make sewing patches on, WAY easier by placing a piece of cardboard or a small paper pad, inside the leg, behind the patch. Stitch away without poking yourself and without sewing a leg shut!


On a frayed edge, stitch back about 1/4 inch from the edge.

Get even more creative by using embroidery thread to make lines, stars or x's.

Sewing patches can be a great therapeutic activity that is relaxing and fun.  It is easy to do and doesn't require a lot of skill.


Now, I'm off to find an old worn out pair of blue jeans to transform!


  1. Make Craft Projects
  2. Therapeutic Art
  3. Sewing Patches

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