Mindfully mending with patches

A friend asked if I could mend a tear in his most beloved white buttoned down shirt. The 6″ rip, was not on a seam rather in a somewhat tricky spot. I decided to give it a go as it posed a interesting challenge in modern day garment mending!


Step 1 was to remove all the machine stitches in the area needing repair. The industrial machine stitch length used to make this lovely Egyptian Cotton men’s ready-to-wear shirt was quite tiny and imbedded due to wear and laundering. I had to be very careful while ripping out so as not to make the tear worse!


Since the tear was located dangerously(!) near both the overlap and underlap sleeve plackets, I decided to delicately open up the whole area and fuse a strip of lightweight fusible interfacing on the underside to stabilize, using a muslin press cloth. Here’s the brand and type of fusible interfacing.



My plan was to create a long slender hemmed patch and to sandwich it between the overlap and underlap plackets. From my wondrous fabric stash I chose a piece of white-on-white Dotted Swiss cotton, perfect in fabric weight and design scale for this patch. Recently I read an article, “Essential Techniques” in Threads Magazine, December 2019/January 2020 issue on page 77, that offered an excellent technique for making small hems. Using a permanent Micron marker, I drew a 1/4″ line on a small piece of card stock. I folded the patch fabric over the card stock, lined it up with my ruled line and pressed into place without burning my fingers! Sewists, you will want to check out this article as it has so many other brilliant tips and techniques!


Once the patch was hemmed on all four sides, I fused piece of Wonder Under Light, slightly smaller in size, onto the wrong side of the patch. I removed the paper liner side of the WU and fused the patch to the sleeve’s right side positioned evenly over the tear. This may seem like a lot of extra steps employed and products used but by stabilizing the area (fusible interfacing on wrong side) then adding the double sided fusible to the wrong side of the patch (Heat n Bond), the area was well prepped making the final stitching a piece of cake.


But wait there’s more! Since the owner/wearer of this shirt, a music critic, gave me artistic freedom with this repair, I added a lil’ decorative patch on top of the functional Dotted Swiss one. This small inchie-sized cotton fabric patch (using the same process as the first patch: the card stock for measuring the bitty 1/4″hems and Heat n Bond for fusing into place) has a musical theme.


So now I was ready to machine appliqué all these elements into place. I installed a new 80/12 Universal sewing machine needle and selected a 2mm stitch length. First I sewed all around the long slender patch, then a couple rows centered over the area of the tear, then stitched the smaller patch into place and finally stitched and reinforced the overlap placket and its peaked “roof.”


Here’s hoping the repair holds well. I felt I gave it the best support possible with the stabilizing agents. This sewing experience combined function and fun. It also felt very mindful and sustainable as I was slowly and thoughtfully working to repair a garment for reuse.