Boys. They come equipped with knobby sandpaper knees that cut through denim like a bread knife through a warm loaf – all jagged and uneven. What’s worse, even at an early age, they also seem hardwired with an attachment to the worn and the weathered (evidenced later in life by those moth-bitten t-shirts guys like me refuse to throw out – the ultimate in comfort). Which means you’ll have a hard time replacing those tattered dungarees. Here are 3 ways (listed in order of difficulty) in which you can mend those holey jeans, avoid a fight, and help heal the environment all at the same time.


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1. Can’t Sew? So What? The simplest way to mend a hole is slap an iron-patch over it. Sure, it’s like sticking your finger in the hole of a dam, but it’s a crafty temporary solution. While you won’t need a sewing machine, you will need an iron. You’ll also need a hard surface (in lieu of an ironing board), and a thin towel or sheet of brown paper.

· Heat the iron
· Place the patch over the hole
· Place the towel on top (to protect the patch from damage)
· Iron away (10 to 15 seconds or as long as it takes for the patch to adhere to the denim, making sure that the edges of the iron-on patch are secured)

You can usually find patches at local thrift shops or record stores. Interpunk also offers an extensive collection of rock and novelty patches listed in alphabetical order.
Green note: Fabric adhesives are usually made of chemicals such as Polyester or Polyamide.

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2. Cover Me, I’m Going In. Moving up in the level of difficulty, affixing a sewn-in patch cut from another piece of denim, discarded garment or even vintage fabric (if it is strong enough), is a great way to extend the life of beloved jeans. For this patching technique you will need scissors, fabric, and a needle and thread (or a sewing machine if you have one).

· Turn the jeans inside out (let the damage show, these aren’t your grandma’s jeans)
· Cut a piece of fabric about an inch larger than the hole in diameter
· Thread the needle
· Make a sturdy stitch all the way around

You can use bits of old canvas totes, outgrown denim jeans or sofa covers as a patch. The key is to choose a fabric that is sturdy enough to last. It took this ‘mom’ 4 minutes.
Green note: Reusing fabric is more sustainable than buying and shipping ‘vintage’ swatches.

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3. Best Of Both Worlds. Embroider your own patch! No, it is not as difficult as you think, and the guys over at Sublime Stitching offer unconventional patterns that modernize old school needlepoint. Unless you never want this project done, it is advisable to reserve the embroidery option for the smallest of holes.

· Repeat the steps outlined in #2
· Choose a pattern
· Visit the un-cute-ified ‘how to’ section of Sublime Stitching for instructions on how to ‘tattoo’ the tattered denim.
Green note: The more love you put into mending a product, the more appreciated it will be by the owner (i.e. you probably wont have to buy another pair of jeans ever!)

KEY NOTE: Be sure to consult the wearer at every step along the way, as running afoul of finicky tastes would be a disaster.

*lead image from breemuell’s Flickr