The team at the closest tailor has done a couple of repairs to my vintage Levi’s recently. The first was to repair a rip at the knee and the second was to strengthen the crotch seams. It is amazing to be able do that. Even though you can be over 50, the jeans still hold up well.
This is obviously more sustainable. It also makes jeans more personal and valuable. Jeans won’t last forever. Jeans can be repaired multiple times and still look great. There is a limit.
Reinforcing your crotch is the most common repair for jeans. Despite not wanting to think about it, there is more sweat and bacteria there and, depending on your activities, more friction.
Darning the inner material of denim can suffice if the problem is detected when it is worn thinly, and not blown through.
This isn’t darning, as you might know from knitwear. Instead, hand sewing is used for creating the weave in a small portion of the fabric. Instead, a sewing machine can be used to repeatedly sew back and forth on the backside of the denim. This process is repeated over and over again until you create new cloth.
The direction of the twill will be followed by the sewer, who will use a thread that is as close to the colour of the jeans as possible. The same process is used to darn knitwear but it’s done more intensively, precisely, and mechanically.
Sometimes, you may need to add some extra material behind the repair in order to strengthen it. My jeans had a noticeable thinning in the seams at the crotch. You could see the thread connecting the two sides but it was barely visible. Darning at the seam’s back was sufficient in this instance.
The back of the denim at the knee was damaged, so a new piece of material was needed. You can choose to use a second piece of denim, or a piece made of softer cotton. The former is more durable but harder and the latter is softer but less strong.
My first pair of bespoke Levis was repaired using denim. Tailor who repaired my vintage Levi’s preferred soft cotton. The material is then sewn on the back the same way.
Tailor says, “My advice to you is to bring in jeans before the rips through – when they are just thinning. If you do this, there’s a good chance that we won’t have to add any backing and the result will be less thick.
This is especially important in the crotch, as the material must be shaped to your legs and seat. You’re less likely to notice any additional thickness. Above is a large repair to the knee of a pair jeans. For issues such as this tailor and her team also applied patches to the knees outside, but only in extreme circumstances.
He says that if someone is constantly on their knees, such as when they work, it might be a good idea to add a layer of denim. It’s not usually necessary. It was only once that we did it, when a man had bleached his jeans and a patch was applied over it.
Repairing the buttonholes at the fly and waistband is another common task. This is a manual job, and you will end up with hand-sewn buttons, just like on custom trousers.
This is necessary as the machine cannot sew a buttonhole in its entirety and can only cut the material in its middle. It would be a mess to try this over an existing buttonhole.
If necessary, entire waistbands can be replaced and pockets bags can also been replaced. Tailor says that this happens quite often with other jeans, because they use lighter pocket bags. They are more comfortable to wear at the beginning, but they are often the first thing to go.
The bag may have a small hole or rip, but the majority of bags are ruined. These bags are rarely brought in by men until there is almost nothing left.
What can’t be fixed?
Tailor says that the problem is when the material becomes too thin. It is possible to hold the material up to the light and see through it. The rips will soon start to appear everywhere. You are effectively creating a new pair of jeans. It’s always better to start over.