TIP: Making Repairs in Knit Fabric

by Ramona on August 14, 2014

As with all things sewing, there are different ways to do things. I had to do repairs in knit fabric this past weekend, and I thought sharing three different ways I do it would be beneficial not only to ASG members, but others who sew as well. I’ll show you how normally mending is taught, and then a second way that I sometimes use, and the third way which I mainly use and I’ve never seen anyone else do.

First the usual way. Normally when we are taught to mend fabrics, whether jeans, a tear in a  shirt or a knit fabric, we learn to place apiece of mending fabric behind the rip or hole, and then sew over the area with a zig zag stitch, filling the area with thread.

Here is a hole in a knit fabric. This happens to be a knit fitted bed sheet. It could just as well be a knit top; the repairs would be the same. Use a piece of knit interfacing to create a patch. Cut a circle with pinking shears. The pinked edges  allow the interfacing edges to blend into the fabric instead of showing on the right side of the fabric. Press the patch onto the back of the fabric.

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Use a 3-step zig-zag stitch and matching thread to sew back and forth over the patched hole filling the area with thread and reinforcing the fabric.     



Press well. As you can see, the stitching will be visible no matter how well the thread matches. While this technique is ok, perhaps there are other ways to patch holes with better results.




The next way is with a “stab stitch“. A stab stitch is created by placing the needle up and down through the fabric, front to back, then back to front, creating little pricked stitches in the cloth around and through the area of the hole.

Place a patch on the back of the fabric like before, but this time, gently and carefully pull the fabric edges together while pressing the patch on with the iron.

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Instead of tying the thread and creating a bulky knot in the back, weave the tail end of the thread through the fibers of the interfacing on the back side of the fabric. After the thread is secure, bring the tip of the needle to the front side of the fabric near–but not in–the hole.

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Bring the needle and thread all the way through the top of the fabric, then place the tip of the needle just a thread or two away from where it was brought up, straight back down again. Pull the needle through the back side of the fabric gently pulling the thread to the fabric. This type of stitching pattern is called a stab stitch.

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Bring the needle up from the back to the front and back down again front the front to the back and continue to repeat the process of creating stab stitches around and a few through the area of the hole until the hole is reinforced.

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Secure the thread at the back by weaving through the interfacing fibers again; clip the thread end and press the patched area.

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The hole is patched.










There is yet a third way which is the method I use most of the time. It uses no interfacing, but instead a ladder stitch is used to carefully pull the edges together. The ladder stitches are made in such a way as to form a fish-eye dart shape around the hole to be alleviated. Here are the steps. Note: Red thread is being used so the stitching will be visible. When using this method, of course, use matching thread.





Begin by gently pressing the area and assessing how the stitching will be done.







Thread the needle and secure the tail end of the thread by weaving it through the back side of the fabric through single fibers.




S2520015Push the needle point through to the front.




The ladder stitching will now be done from the front.







Think of the shape of a fish-eye (double ended) dart while doing the ladder stitch. Pick up a thread at the first point end outside of the hole area.








Pick up another stitch with one fiber of the cloth just below the stitch. Then proceed with the ladder stitch.







Continue working the ladder stitch




S2520025until the hole is covered with ladder stitches and the stitching goes to a point at the other end.




Gently pull on the thread; the stitching will come together closing the hole.








If the thread matched, these stitches would not be visible.






Push the needle through to the back side of the fabric







and weave the needle through the pulled up fabric.







Pull the thread through and clip the thread. Don’t worry, the thread end is secure.




S2520038Press from the right side by hoovering the iron over the area and finger pressing the area using steam.





The repaired area is barely visible.



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Here is a photo of the same type of repair done on a knit work shirt. The arrow points to the repaired area. It’s practically invisible!



I hope you’ll try one of these methods the next time you have a knit fabric to repair and let me know how the technique worked for you.

Sew until next time….enjoy the journey of sewing!







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