Mending: Patching a Hole on Woven Fabric (Backfilling) Using Blanket Stitch

step1fabricwithhole
Linen with a hole in it.

Large holes in a woven material are best mended by either patching or darning. This is an example of how to mend a hole by patching on the wrong side of the fabric (which is called backfilling the hole).

The sample is done with contrasting thread and fabric, for a visible mend (for the sake of being able to see it clearly in pictures). You can choose to mend your clothes visibly (with fun fabrics and colours) or invisibly, in which case you would try to match the fabrics and threads as best you can to the original fabric.

It is best to pick a patch fabric that has a similar weight, drape, and texture to your garment, so that the patch will blend in more smoothly.

step2supplies
Supplies needed to patch a hole in a woven material.

Supplies:

  • Sewing Needle
  • Thread (the demo shows a six-strand embroidery floss for maximum visibility, but for an invisible mend, a doubled up strand of normal sewing thread is fine)
  • Material for the patch (1cm or 1/2 an inch bigger then the hole all the way around)
  • Scissors
  • Optional: Fray Check
  • Optional: Thimble
Step 1: Trim Hole and (Optional) Apply Fray Check
step3fraycheck
Step 1: Trim the hole and apply fray check.

Use scissors to carefully trim away all frayed edges and stray threads around the hole. If you like, you can also trim the hole into a shape (like a square, circle, heart, or star).

Optional: for fabrics that fray easily, you can apply fray check (which is a fabric-safe glue that prevents fraying) around the raw edge of the hole for stability.

Step 2: Place Patch Behind Hole and Stitch Around Perimeter.

Place patch behind the hole. If you find the patch moves too much or slips around, you can hold it temporarily in place using pins, spray adhesive, or a bit of fabric glue stick or kid’s white glue stick (that are machine washable)

Thread your needle with a double thickness of thread, tie a knot at the end (OR take a few small stitches in place on the wrong side as an alternative to tying a knot)

Beginning from the wrong side, bring your needle up and stitch around the hole, keeping far away from the frayed edges. This stitch is to hold the patch in place and prevent puckering and pulling while we work on the rest of the stitching. In the sample below, we took long stitches on the wrong side and prick stitches (tiny, almost invisible stitches) on the right side.

Tie knot in thread near where the thread meets the fabric.

step4perimeterstitchfront
Step 2: Stitch patch around the hole using a running stitch.
step4perimeterstitchback
Step 2: What the reverse of the patch looks like in step 2.
step4perimeterstitchfrontfinished copy
Step 2: The completed stitch around the perimeter of the patch.
step4perimeterstitchbackfinished
Step 2: The completed step from the reverse side of the patch.
 Step 3: Blanket Stitch Around Frayed Edges.

Do a blanket stitch (good example of blanket stitch here: The 8 Most Helpful Hand Sewing Stitches) around the frayed edges of the hole, sewing through the main fabric and the patch with the good side facing you. Blanket stitch finishes the edge of the hole, re-enforcing the edge and stopping fraying.

To do a blanket stitch, you stick the needle through the fabric and  – before you pull the needle all the way through – wrap the thread around the needle. Then when you pull the needle out and tug the thread downwards, it will make a series of neat knots along the edge of the hole.

step5blanket stitch
Step 3: Blanket stitch along edges of hole. As you can see, we have inserted the needle from inside the hole (through the patch), coming out in the main fabric. Before we pull the needle through, we wrap the thread around it, making a knot when we pull the needle through.
Step 3: Finished Blanket Stitch.
Step 3: Finished Blanket Stitch.
Step 4: Trim Away Excess Patch Fabric

The next step is to turn to the wrong side of the work and use scissors to carefully trim away the excess patch outside of our perimeter stitching.

step6TrimPatch
Step 4: Excess fabric has been trimmed away from the patch.
Step 5 (Optional): Catch Stitch Edge of Patch

The patch as it is is pretty strong and will have limited fraying, but if you are interested in one further step, you can catch stitch around the edge of our patch on the reverse side of the fabric. To do this we look at the wrong side of the fabric and take big stitches over the raw edges of our patch, but on the front we only catch a tiny amount of fabric (like one thread’s worth), making it almost invisible on the front of the work.

step7Catchstitchpatchedge
Step 5: Taking Tiny stitches through to the front of the work while catching the raw edge of the patch.
Step 6: Finished!

Tie off all loose threads and snip them away. You are done and ready to wear your beloved garment once again!

Final mending: a backfill patched hole!
Final mending: a backfill patched hole!

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