September 27, 2010

Don't Throw Those Away!

Darn, you know you did it, and now you're sorry.  You hitched up your favorite pair of perfectly broken in jeans and now they're not so perfect.  In the past you had two choices one be rid of them (oh no!) or wear them with that belt loop flapping (or hidden none to carefully under a belt) all the while you're hoping no one will notice.  Be embarrassed no more; as this is my very own tutorial that will help anyone with basic sewing machine skills fix those jeans in such a way that no one will notice your repairs.  I promise! 

The Problem:  
A loose or ripped belt loop.
The Solution:
Note in the above photo that the belt loop is still firmly attached to the top of your favorite jeans.  Please note the top of the belt loop will remain attached through this entire tutorial.  That's great, now all you need to do (read further down for dealing with belt loops that are merely a bit loose) is to clip the threads of the jeans that are still attached to the bottom part of the belt loop.  Do not use a seam ripper.  For those of you with more than rudimentary sewing abilities I'm certain you're shocked to read that, but trust me leaving those threads on the top now will allow your repairs to blend more seamlessly later.

Now that your belt loop is dangling shamefully by the top of your pants make one of these (as seen on the right).  This is a piece of corduroy about 3" long and just right about 2" wide before I sewed it in half long ways.  Note I have flipped the seam into the inside.  You can use any soft heavier weighted material such as a scrap of denim.  Just be certain it's soft as it will be settled on your waist for the lifetime of your favorite jeans.  You can make the tube longer if you want to repair multiple pairs of jeans at once or a bit shorter, but it is important to make the tube nice and long.
That is because now you're going to pin the tube into your pants.  The tube should snug up right under the waistband.  Make certain the entire hole is covered and allow most of the excess to run off to one side.  Pin the tube from the outside of the pants.  By doing this you will be able to work on the outside of the pants.  I found that the seam of my tube has more layers of fabric and thereby gives more strength so I shove it to the top as you can see thus.
Check your sewing machine - is it ready to sew?  Be sure you have at least a 90/14 needle in your sewing machine to deal with the thickness of the fabrics involved - you wont need a denim needle but you may use it if you'd like, I personally used a Universal for this job.  Select your zigzag stitch.  This is also sometimes referred to a satin stitch.  Make your stitches as wide as your machine will allow and make certain it's going to make lots of stitches per inch.  On mechanical machines just look for the stitches that look like they're intended to sew button holes.  Practice a bit on a scrap to be sure the stitches are wide and dense.  Select a thread that matches the color of the jeans.  An exact match isn't required but the bigger the hole the closer you'll want to match.  Don't worry:  Most satin stitch repairs done in this manner will not show after you have tack stitched your belt loop back down.
Slowly and carefully straddle the hole with the sewing machine needle.  Do not pull the sides together or otherwise try to chinch the hole closed as this will only cause unsightly puckers and besides with that little tube you made all your stitches will sink into nice anchoring fabric even if they do slide into the hole on one side.  Some holes can be sewn over and completely covered in one strip of sewing, but even with the dense stitches I still like to back the machine back up over all the stitches it made creating two rows of nice solid stitches. That way I can take the thread ends and tie a tiny knot in them just to be certain.  Perhaps it's silly but my repairs hold.  The above jeans were able to be fixed with that single row forward and back satin stitch, but these below required more work.  
These jeans had a bigger hole and I needed to satin stitch over it in three distinctive rows, that's perfectly okay and as long as you have a tube behind your stitches the repair will hold nicely.  Don't spend much time thinking about what they will look like when they're done because as I mentioned previously the belt loop itself covers most all of even this larger repair.

Now that you have fixed the actual hole we can move on to making everything usable and attractive again.  Select a thread that this time that matches the stitches on your jeans.  Most of the time a yellowish orange or a tan thread will work just fine.  Now you might think you need a heavy thread and a mat finish to achieve an exact match but I assure you I myself have used shiny Rayon in the top and a nice strong polyester in the bobbin with a nice rate of success.
The goal now is to stick with that zigzag stitch but make it much more narrow, something like 2.0 mm comes to mind, but just practice on your scrap fabric and look at the other loops.  The key to matching is to keep everything uniform.  Notice here that I kept that line of stitches that the belt loop had used previously to tack to the pants.  As that is still there the eye is allowed to travel over that area without thinking about it.

Before sewing smooth out  your belt loop down over the flat waist band.  Check to be certain there aren't any puckers and that the belt loop isn't going to far down or not far enough.  Keep in mind that belt loops should lay flat without pulling so that if you ever want to wear a belt it will fit properly.

When you have finished tack stitching down check the other belt loops.  Often when there is trouble with one side the other will be a little bit loose but with no actual hole to fix you can simply run a row of stitches to re-tack down the second belt loop.  For the most part if the back ones match that's fine but if you do anything to a front loop be sure to do a similar detail to the other front loop. 
The first pair of pants I fixed had a different style of belt loop in the middle so a bit of extra stitching on the second side was all these jeans needed to look wonderful again.  The second pair of jeans I tack stitched on the middle one as well.  See how well that odd shiny yellow-orange thread blended right into the jeans?
While I was at this repair I noticed the leather label had lost some of it's threads so I took that same thread from my tack stitches and adjusted my machine for a straight stitch nice an big to match.  

Now just cut that little tube back say within 1/2" of your stitches and your jeans are as good as perfect again!

1 comment:

Heather Landry said...

Awesome tutorial Liz! Thanks so much for sharing your tips and tricks. I wouldn't have even known they were mended without you telling me!