Last week, my mom/seamstress fixed a ripped belt loop that had created a fairly large hole on one end of the loop. I had no idea if it was even repairable, so I was amazed when it not only could be fixed by hand but also looked like nothing had ever happened. This week, our seamstress-in-residence, my sister Lisa, is back sharing how this sort of magic can help you out if you too have done the “skinny jean jig” one too many times. – Rebecca
It happened to me one day as I was getting dressed for work. I was doing my usual skinny jean jig and, whoops, there went a belt loop. Now being a seamstress doesn’t mean I will fix everything right away or even within a month. Cut to six months later and I’m finally digging through my Ziploc full of iron-on patches ready to fix these pants.
For those of you new to the mending scene, iron-on patches are pieces of fabric (usually a twill or jean) with an adhesive backing that can be ironed onto the underside of any rips or tears to stabilize the torn fabric and hide the rip. It also gives you something to sew that ripped belt loop back onto.
Once I find a matching jean colored-patch and plug in the iron, the fun begins:
– An iron-on patch in a similar color (these can be found at drugstores as well as sewing stores)
– An iron
– A long needle (big can be better when it comes to thick fabric like denim) or a sewing machine
– Thread to match the thread of your jeans
– A few straight pins or safety pins
Start with heating up the iron: high heat is fine – a cotton setting if you have it – since the patch is made of cotton. If you are ironing onto a non-cotton fabric, adjust the temperature of the iron to the setting for the main fabric. In general, it’s smart to avoid any steam. A little bit is okay, but the steam can prohibit the adhesive from sticking as well as it could.
Next step is to prep for ironing by placing the patch. I trim my patch down to about a half-inch bigger on all sides of the rip.
01. Then, I pin the patch in place with the adhesive side facing down on the wrong side (i.e. the inside of the jeans) and flip over to the right side (i.e. the exterior) to make sure it’s covering the rip.
Once everything is lined up on the right side, flip back over to the wrong side, making sure to keep everything in place as best as you can (that’s why the pins are super helpful!) and take the iron to the patch. For this situation, it was imperative to catch the ripped jean and the ripped belt loop with the iron even though the belt loop has a thick bottom. That means iron as hard as you can.
02. Finally, let’s reinforce the patch with some stitching. I was anxious and did my first stitches very quickly on my sewing machine with a tight zig-zag stitch above the original belt loop stitch.
03. The stitch is still holding, but I can still see the rip.
04. So I decided to strengthen the stitching by hand with a “slip stitch” (or blind stitch) by running the needle and thread through the belt loop end and into the patch at the back and then repeating this loop until I’ve got a secure stitch connecting the belt loop back to the jeans and patch. Really there is no wrong way to mend as long as it holds! Just be sure to tie off the thread on the inside of your jeans after you’ve finished stitching with a knot as close to the fabric as possible.
05. Sometimes your rip may have left some frayed threads. If that’s the case, now is the time to cut these away for a clean, finished look.
06. You’re done! The belt loop is now securely fastened to the patch.
Tip: If your iron-on patch comes unstuck in the wash, Stitch Witchery is a great iron-on adhesive tape found at your local sewing store that will re-attach the patch to the jeans. It can be cut down to fit around your patch and ironed on using the same method as you did with the patch before.
While the belt loop may look as good as new, it’s best to do your future skinny jean jigs while pulling up the whole waistband, and not relying on belt loops.
All photos by Lisa Magee.