Subtle Mends for Unmentionable Areas
I teach workshops on visible mending regularly, and by far, the most requested mend is the dreaded crotch repair.
If you are like me, jeans are my favorite article of clothing to wear. And a well fitting pair of jeans is magic, and also tragic when they are in need of repair. And it seems that the upper thigh/crotch area is the first to go.
Why is this always happening?
Well, first of all, your nether regions themselves are not creating these rips in your denim. Particularly if your jeans are a blend, they are not made to last. Does 98% cotton sound familiar? That measly sounding 2% has the power to make jeans about as durable as a sheet of paper, and the upper thigh area, is the most vulnerable. This is fast fashion and it drives me nuts, but that diatribe is for another time, let's talk about how to patch this recurring nightmare.
When is the best time to repair?
The best time to repair is when you notice the denim becoming so thin you can see the light shows through the denim. And sometimes, if you've put it off for so long, an actual hole begins to form. That's okay, it's not too late, just a bigger repair job.
By machine or by hand?
Either way. This are of your jeans is invisible when you are wearing them. The machine method is less visible, but no more durable for this particular area. I decided to use an extreme version, my own very favorite pair of jeans, that should have been properly repaired months ago.
Prepping the area
Whether you decide to repair with visible hand mending, or using a sewing machine, the prep is the same. Find a scrap of denim that is a close match to the existing denim. I used a thicker, 100% denim cotton scrap for good measure.
If you denim is still intact, pin the patch under the weakened area. If it has worn through, cut off the fray for clean edges, then place the patch under the area, and pin in place. The patch will sit on the underside of the denim.
Mending by Machine
Using a sewing machine to mend the upper thigh is relatively simple. I used denim thread, because it blends so well. I also make sure to use a heavier needle designed for sewing denim. Now, using a regular stitch, sew with the weave of the denim, forward and reverse, altering your path slightly, but making sure to continue in the direction of the lines in the denim.
Do this until the area seems secure, but not too long, or the area will become very stiff, and possibly uncomfortable to wear. Remember, you can easily add more stitching, but subtracting, not so much.
Hand Mending with Sashiko
Hand stitching the area will be the same prep, but when it comes time to sew, make smaller stitches over the entire area. I opt to make the straightest rows possible, just to make sure the fabric sits flat and unwrinkled as you stitch.
And here's the side by side comparison of hand mending vs. machine mending upper thigh areas.
Update: After wearing my jeans, each side repaired with a different method, I have found that there is neither a difference in strength of the mend nor is there a difference in how the jeans fit post-mend.
Step-by-Step Using Hand Mending
Above is the crotch area of a pair of overalls. You can see the weakened material on each of the 4 areas where the seams come together. You will want to patch each of these areas separately, cutting patches to fit neatly into place.
Now pin everything into place, and stitch from the inside of the jeans out. It's helpful to keep one hand on the underside of the mend so that you can make sure the patches don't fold or crease while you are stitching.
Complete stitching one section at a time. I don't encourage stitching over the seam. This area is really thick, and may feel bulky when you start adding stitches and fabric, so pay attention to keep the stitching and areas more separate as you mend.
You will want to take care to use small stitches in this area, and make sure the thread tension doesn't get too tight, or your patches may start to pucker.
Here's a look at the inside of the mend. You can always trim up patches when you are finished.
And of course, the finished underside that only you will see!
More Mending Tutorials:
And to read more about sashiko, and see more examples click here: