how to sew a hole

Sew What! Learn How to Expertly Stitch up Pesky Holes in Clothes With Easy DIY Mending

Have you ever noticed a small hole in your favorite T-shirt, pants, or other piece of clothing and wondered if you could fix it yourself? Mending holes in fabrics like a pro may seem daunting, but with the right materials and techniques, sewing repairs can be easy DIY projects for stitching up tears or rips around the house. Read on to learn all about how to sew a hole!

Whether your hole resulted from a torn seam, loose thread, or just general wear and tear, this article covers multiple methods for hand-sewing and machine stitching holes, ladder stitches, running stitches, or darning stitches in clothing and fabrics like denim, knit, stretchy, woven, and more using needles and matching thread.

Materials Needed

Before learning how to sew up any hole, you’ll need to gather some basic sewing supplies. The best tools for hand-sewing small holes involve needles, thread, fabric glue, and scrap material while machine-sewing larger holes utilizes a machine, straight stitch presser feet, zig-zag, and buttonhole stitches.

Sewing Machine vs Hand Sewing: A quality sewing machine allows more heavy-duty mending and seaming, while hand sewing lends itself better to inconspicuous ladder stitches. Consider the size of the hole and fabric type when deciding between tools.

Needles: Hand sewing requires sharps or embroidery needles. Choose machine needles compatible with fabric weight; knits and stretchier blends may call for ballpoint, while wovens work with sharps.

Threads: Match thread color to fabric. Embroidery threads or stronger bonded threads work well.

Fabrics: Knit and stretch-woven fabrics run and tear more quickly but can be patched. Denser wovens are challenging for novice sewers when holes enlarge.

Sewing Machine Repairs

For larger holes, weak seams, and long tears up to 5 inches, a home sewing machine allows sturdier stitching for clothes with more wear and tear.

Straight Stitch

The straight stitch setting sews basic seams or patches together. Use it to stitch patch edges or sew tears with reinforced fabric backing.

Zig Zag Stitch

Zig stitches reinforce edges to prevent further fraying or tearing along seams or holes. When hole borders ravel badly, zig-zagging helps bind fibers.

Buttonhole Stitch

The buttonhole foot setting creates narrow satin stitches perfect for applying patches. Stitch around patch borders for clean, finished edges.

Hand Sewing Repairs

Hand Sewing Repairs
Photo credit: freepik

When holes measure 1 inch or less, hand-sewing restoration techniques make for subtle, almost invisible mending jobs.

Running Stitch

A basic running or straight stitch works well for quickly hemming tears or stitching down frayed hole edges on inconspicuous liner seams.

Ladder Stitch

One of the most popular hand stitches, the ladder technique inconspicuously joins fabric layers from hole edges inwards with a crisscross stitch reminiscent of a ladder. It seamlessly aligns torn pieces or edges.

Darning Stitch

Darning uses interleaving rows of running stitches to fill larger holes or thinned fabric sections with woven threads that patch worn areas via a weaving motion.

Embroidery Stitch

For stable tears with neat edges, embroidery stitches like backstitching make attractive mending stitches around the border to add interest while repairing holes.

Step-by-Step Instructions

The best approach for mending clothing tears and holes depends significantly on their size and location. Follow these basic guidelines when prepping your fabric repair.

Assessing the Hole

Size: Measure hole length and width. Small, clean-edged holes under a 1-inch square may close via hand sewing. Larger holes benefit from machine reinforcements and patch supports.

Location: Check the location within the garment or fabric weave. Stretch-prone areas like knees warrant sturdier patches.

Fabric Type: Knit garment holes require elastic stitches and patches. Dense wovens and denim call for a sturdy machine or hand stitches. Delicate fabrics demand subtle stitches.

Preparing to Sew

Needle and Thread: Hand sewing demands needles appropriate for fabric weight. Always thread top, knot, or anchor bottom threads. Match colors closely.

Trim Excess Fabric: Fraying excess fabric only enlarges holes and complicates sewing. Carefully trim errant threads or shreds around the hole.

Sewing Machine Techniques

For uniform finishing, utilize machine stitches for patching and reinforcing seam tears and worn spots. Set stitches no longer than 2 millimeters for flexibility.

Straight Stitch: Insert supportive fabric or patch piece behind the hole. Straight stitch around edges to bind layers.

Zig Zag: Dense zig-zag stitches prevent border fraying by securing the weave threads along hole edges or seams.

Buttonhole: Program 4-6 stitches per inch density. Stitch around patch borders for clean enclosure.

Hand Sewing Techniques

When holes sit on visible outer surfaces, minimize their appearance with subtle hand stitch techniques.

Running: Quickly secure tears along raw edges using tiny running stitches along the hole’s length.

Ladder: Invisibly join torn edges or adapt for patches. Work from the tear outwards to hide stitches.

Darning: Weave rows of thread back and forth across holes in columns to fill damaged weave areas via woven stitches.

Embroidery: Backstitch or hand embroider around even-edged holes for ornamental repairs.

Tips and Tricks

Follow these extra guidelines for securing lasting, durable hole repairs and preventing repeats.

Avoid Loose Threads: Check at knot holes frequently to prevent loosening, tie knots tightly, or double up threads. Apply a touch of fabric glue at the knot base.

Knits vs. Wovens: Tears in knits with inherent stretch require elastic threads/stitches so holes won’t reappear when stretched.

Make Patches: Cut fabric scraps in a matching color for inconspicuous patches. Opt for stretch fabrics when patching stretchy blends.

Try Fabric Glue: For temporary or small holes, fabric glues bind edges to cover holes. Works for tricky fabrics.

Common Issues and Solutions

Hand and machine sewing sometimes produces less desirable results that require adjustments.

Hole Reappearing? Dense darning, zig-zag, or buttonhole stitch around the border should reinforce hole edges against stretching or fraying.

Fabric Bunching? Gentle tugging while sewing helps ease excess gathering while stitching tears and patch edges.

Unsightly Results? Remove poor stitches; reposition, iron, and pin fabric flat before cleanly re-sewing the hole with appropriate thread tension.


What is the easiest way to sew a small hole?

The easiest way to sew a small hole is using a hand sewing technique like the ladder or running stitch, which provides an invisible seam. Choose embroidery thread and needle appropriate for your fabric.

How do I sew a hole in stretchy fabric?

For stretch fabrics, use an elastic thread and make zig-zag stitches around the hole to reinforce the edges before sewing. Hand stitches like darning also work well with knits by interweaving threads through the damage.

What is the best stitch for patching holes?

The buttonhole stitch works excellently for patching holes because it tightly encloses the patch’s edges to holes in the base fabric for a tidy finish.

Should I use a sewing machine or sew a hole by hand?

It depends on the hole’s size and location. Hidden tiny holes under 1 inch are usually best hand-sewn using a ladder, running, or darning stitches. Larger holes over 1 inch along seams/stretched areas benefit from a sewing machine and patch support with straight, zig-zag, or buttonhole stitches.

How do I keep hand-sewn holes from reopening?

Use knotting, fabric glue at knot bases, and dense stitching patterns like darning or buttonhole stitches along the hole’s edges to reduce stretching and prevent fraying or reopening.


Whether that frustrating hole resulted from a torn sock, ripped jeans seam, loose threads in a sweater, thinning knees in pants, or delicate fabric tearing, this guide covers easy-to-follow instructions for hand and machine sewing fixes using needles and thread, with bonus patch and glue alternatives.

Armed with these hole repair basics, you can tackle everything from tiny punctures to lengthening tears utilizing ladder stitches, running stitches, darning, zig-zag, or straight stitches. Soon, you’ll become a DIY mending expert!

Which clothing repair technique will you try first: embroidered hole edges, a machine-sewn patch, or an inconspicuous ladder stitch? Share your whole sewing adventures below!


Main image: freepik

Priti Nandy
Priti Nandy
Articles: 168

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