He can't wear ripped pants to school. What's the solution?

A No-Sew Way to Patch Holes in Pants?

by Dollar Stretcher Contributors

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A No-Sew Way to Patch Holes in Pants?

My five-year-old son has managed to put a hole in at least one knee of every pair of pants he owns and he cannot wear ripped pants to school. He has a bad habit of sliding on his knees when he plays, and we just have not been able to get him to stop. Does anyone know of any no-sew methods of patching holes in khaki pants, sweat pants, and jeans? I do not know how to sew, although I can see now it could be saving us some money. Can I use an adhesive? I just need a solution that will keep him in a pair of pants longer than a few weeks. Or if anyone has no-sew suggestions for reinforcing the knees of his pants prior to him getting holes in the knees, that would be most helpful. Thank you!

Make Pants Last Long with These Two Steps

Put iron-on patches on the inside of the knees of new pants. They come in denim and other fabrics. Follow package directions. If he still wears them out, put another patch on the outside. You can find iron-on patches at fabric stores and maybe even the dollar store.

Look for Full Return Policy

Sears used to sell jeans with a full return policy on any kids jeans. Call and ask them about it. Also, some brands come with patches already sewn into the knees. Iron-on patches are cheap, but they work best if ironed on while the jeans are new.

Double-Knee Jeans Are the Way to Go

I raised two sons and have three grandsons. I always bought my sons double-knee jeans. Even those will eventually wear. Look at Walmart, dollar stores or sewing stores for ready-made adhesive patches in various colors. You should be able to find knee-sized patches with no trouble. Just follow the directions to iron them on securely.

It's good to develop some simple sewing skills. You should be able to find a sewing book or instructions online, so you can repair buttons, snags, and other small damage to clothing.
Barbara in SC

Stitch Down the Corners of Iron-On Patches

There are iron-on patches at the fabric store or a piece of fabric can be made into a patch using double sided iron on interfacing. With washing, the iron-on may fade and have to be redone. Using a double thread and needle to stitch down the corners with a thimble as jeans are thick would help. There's got to be videos on YouTube to help.

Check Out Iron Knee

Sears sells a brand called Lands' End that makes a style called Iron Knee. There is a reinforcement patch already sewn on. The company will replace the pants if the boy does make a hole for free!
Christine G.

Mother of Five Shares Her Experience

As the mother of five, I've experienced a lot of pants with holes. I found that the best way for me to patch the holes is to take either a piece of old sweatshirt material or a piece of fleece and adhere it to the inside of the pants using fusible bonding web. I cut a piece of patch fabric a bit larger than the hole, or if it's on the knee, I cut it large enough to cover the whole knee area from seam to seam. I turn the pants inside out and smooth out the area. Then I completely encircle the area to be patched with the bonding web, cutting numerous short pieces and overlapping the ends. I lay the patch over the web and follow the directions for fusing. After it is bonded, I trim the patch very close to the bond so there isn't much that can curl up and be pulled at when the pants are being put on. I have had most of my patches last much longer than the original pants! I found that by putting the patch on the inside that it generally stops the hole from getting much larger because the stress is on the patch rather than on the pants. When I've patched pants on the outside, the hole usually continues to grow and eventually grows past the edge of the patch. I've found that holes are much less noticeable with this method, especially if I try to match the color of the patch to the pants. I also try to patch the pants as soon as I see even a small hole starting. But again, in the case of a knee, I generally make a patch much larger than the hole to cover the whole knee area. This way, the patch takes the stress but also so there isn't a little lump of patch right at the knee as I figure that would be uncomfortable. I've also used this same method on pants before a hole started with pretty good luck.

Make Your Own Homemade Patches

Sliding across the floor is a joy of childhood. But, it is rough on knees! I save a pair of outgrown/thrashed jeans and khakis for homemade patches. I cut a patch to fit the area and use a fabric glue (no sew) product called Unique Stitch (sold at JoAnn Fabrics) to apply the homemade patch to the inside of the pants knees (if child doesn't want patch to be visible). You can do this before or after the hole has appeared. It won't prevent the holes, but it will give them a second layer to wear through. My son also likes using permanent markers to make Minecraft Creeper faces on his jean patches if I apply them to the outside of his jeans. The layer of glue makes them slightly more durable than the original material. As an added bonus, Unique Stitch can be used to glue patches to Boy Scout uniforms or lace to the bottom of girls' pants to give them another inch or so if they grew suddenly. You can even use it to make a quick curtain rod pocket for free/cheap curtains out of a sheet.

Prevent Holes Before They Happen

This is a no-sew trick to prevent holes before they start. Buy a bottle of fabric glue (at JoAnne's Fabric Store with the 40% coupon from the weekly circular). Turn your kid's jeans inside out and coat the inside of the knee area with a thin layer of fabric glue. Let dry for 24 hours and then wash like normal. This will help the denim to hold together, and my son's jeans last a lot longer before he blows holes in the knees.
Diane in Pittsburgh

Could you earn $50 while junior naps? Here's 5 possible extra money sources to put your naptime plans in motion.

Focus on Changing His Behavior

The statement "we just can't get him to stop" got my attention. Of course, learning basic sewing/patching skills will be helpful not only for this problem but as more crop-up in the future. There are iron-on patches on the market, but I'm not sure how serviceable they would be for this type situation.

I'd focus on changing his behavior. At five years of age, he is ready to begin taking baby steps towards being more responsible. You might offer a small reward if he goes a certain period of time without tearing up his clothes. Or if he gets an allowance, explain the 'why' (costs parents money) and then deduct a small amount from what he receives.

I have found that in most times and in many different situations, "hitting the pocketbook" gets the result you want.

Related: 7 Simple Clothing Fixes You Can Do

Buy Jeans at Thrift Stores

First of all, buy his jeans/pants at a thrift store! As for mending the pants, there is a product out there for mending small holes. I have found it at places like Joann Fabrics. You will need some threads/fiber from an inside seam or an old pair of matching pants that were ruined. This product is a powder that when mixed with the fibers/threads and water, fills in the hole.

Could you sew a patch from the inside out? Do this before washing the tear as washers will fray the hole, making it worse to mend (you could wash them by hand and hang to dry if really dirty). Again, you can use a piece of fabric from an old pair (using fabric glue to adhere) or buy iron-on patches of the same material.

Both my sons did the same. They slid on their knees to the point that they would come in the house with grass stains that went all the way through the pants! So, I have been there and done that! I found Oshkosh and Carhartt brands seemed to last the longest.

Make Three Layers to Wear Through

Most of my aunts and uncles were farmers when I was growing up and they always seemed to go through the right knee of their pants much faster than the left. One aunt reinforced the right knee immediately after buying new pants. She put one iron-on patch inside the pants at the knee and another on the outside and then steamed both into place. There were now three layers to wear through instead of one.

On the other hand, I was not allowed to ruin my school clothes. I had play clothes that I had to change into before roughhousing. They were repaired when my mom had time and I had to play in them as they were.

Make Sleeves to Protect New Pants

I can help, but it is not a no sew patch you need. Prevention is what you need and here is how. Take the pants that have the holes in the knees and make a clean across cut with pinking shears just below where the holes are. You will have the bottom of the pants for each leg, which I call "sleeves." Turn them upside down, and have him insert his new pants into each leg. Pull the sleeves up until tight on the thigh. Wear sleeves daily until he gets over needing to slide. He won't care at first, but as he gets older, he will want to look better and will curtail the sliding. You can safety pin or tack with a few stitches to help secure the sleeves.
Van in AL

Reviewed January 2018

Take the Next Step:

  • When you do need to buy them new pannts, here are 8 ways to save on children's clothing.
  • Get more tips for sewing and repairing clothing in the Dollar Stretcher Library.
  • Don't miss these great hand-me-down how-to's.
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