Patchin’ it, old skool

by DaniGirl on February 4, 2010 · 20 comments

in Happy @ home, Life, the Universe and Everything

When I saw the tear in the knee of Tristan’s gorgeous new Gap cargo pants, I was more than annoyed. I was disappointed, and frustrated. The boy is hard on his clothes. We hand down a lot of t-shirts in my house, but pants rarely survive to have a boy grow out of them. Even with reinforced knees, they get blown out regularly.

So you know what I did? I went to the notions section of Zellers (something about the notions section makes me think of my childhood Saturdays spent at Kmart with my mom and my granny) and I bought a $1.29 iron-on patch kit. Oh yes I did. Eight patches in four colours, I got. And I patched the knees of those gorgeously soft Gap cargo pants, and a pair of black pants that we got for back to school, and just today a pair of blue jeans, too.


I waffled a little bit at first, I admit it. You can see that some of the patch jobs are more, um, subtle, than the others. The brown one was pretty good at first, but now that it’s been washed a few times, it’s starting to fray around the edges. You really can only see the black one if you’re looking for it. There’s nothing discreet about that dark blue patch on the faded denim, though. But you know what? I reclaim patches on the knee in the name of frugality and saving $60 worth of trousers from the scrap heap. Humility be damned, I’ll admit it: I patch my kids’ pants and I’m proud of it.

My grandmother would be proud, too. She used to take all the stitching out of the collars of my grandfather’s shirts, turn it all inside out and sew it back together — on her peddle-powered sewing machine, no less — whenever the collars started to fray. Now *that’s* frugal.

I’m pretty happy with the newly recycled knees, and Tristan is still oblivious enough to be completely unphased by the patches. At around 15 cents a patch, I think that’s a pretty good investment, too. When did patches fall out of favour, anyway? I’m pretty sure I had plenty of them on my knees when I was a kid. Or that might be band-aids I’m thinking of. Now I’m on a mission. Maybe if I go beyond the notions section at Zellers, I can find some high-end patches. Maybe this is the beginning of a patching revolution. Hell, the next thing you know I’ll be darning socks, too!

Well, maybe not.

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

1 DeuxHirondelles February 4, 2010 at 3:22 pm

Who knows, you may be responsible for re-starting a trend from my teen years! For us, jeans were better the more patches they sported. My all-time high was 32. Even my patches had patches. I became quite handy with a sewing machine and even developed a technique for sewing them on the knees, the hardest spot to reach with a flatbed Singer.

A hint for the blue jeans: the next time you turn a pair into cut-offs or get ready to toss them, save the legs to make patches.

2 Sara in Montréal February 4, 2010 at 3:50 pm

As a teen, I learned how to darn my socks! I could spend whole tv shows darning socks. But mind you, my Grandma had had a sock frenzy and made me the best striped whool socks ever, but they were fragile and very high maintenance. It was all for the style, really.

And I was the lucky one, because I was the only one who had the same ‘sock siz’ as my Grandpa in the familly (tiny feet, really), the only size my Grandma seemed to be willing to knit.

3 Mary @ Parenthood February 4, 2010 at 4:08 pm

I have no problem with patches, although I would mind the frayed edges after a while. I think they are still kind of trendy, at least for the pre-teen set.

I never really got patches on my clothing growing up because my mother hated sewing so much (I had to get my mother-in-law to teach me how to sew). She really enjoys darning though. Actually, come to think of it, my mom never showed me how to darn either. Probably just as well since I don’t like the feel of darned socks.

4 Christy February 4, 2010 at 4:24 pm

When I was in highschool, the more patches you had on your pants the cooler you were!

5 Nat February 4, 2010 at 4:27 pm

I am all about the patch, it being the one kinda sorta sewing type skill I can master. In our house, it’s the snow pants that get is. (Yes, even the super re-enforced, tested on wild horses ones.) (Winter jackets too.) Snow suits are expensive.

I don’t even try to hide them… I decided to call it customization, so he gets funky ones when I can find them.

6 Fawn February 4, 2010 at 4:32 pm

I remember having patches on my knees in elementary school and being embarrassed about them because no one else had them. *sigh* But if Tristan doesn’t care, why the heck wouldn’t you patch?! Frugality is cool, I say.

I’ve darned one or two pairs of socks. Actually, I have no idea if I’m actually “darning” them properly. But when your very, very favourite pair of stripey socks gets a hole in the toe (and it’s annoying as hell to have that toe sticking out), you, too, might be tempted to turn it inside out and just use a few stitches to shut the hole and make th sock serviceable again. Sadly, you will find it extends the life of your favourite stripey socks by only a few weeks because that fabric has gotten just a little too worn.

Why no, I’m not attached to my socks at all, why do you ask?

7 DaniGirl February 4, 2010 at 4:33 pm

*smacks forehead* Snowpants!!!! I didn’t even think of patching the ski pants!!

*wonders if leftover green patches on navy ski pants is too much of a stretch*

*imagines selection of ski pants available in stores in Ottawa*

*thinks green patches on navy ski pants is a fine idea*

8 Amber February 4, 2010 at 4:58 pm

I am totally down with repairing clothes, in fact I have a pile I’m working up to fixing. I just never get around to it, and then the children grow. So procrastination destroys my good intentions.

9 karen at virtually there February 4, 2010 at 5:03 pm

Try Fabricland – I’m certain I’ve seen some pretty cool patches there.

10 colleen February 4, 2010 at 5:56 pm

i surely am not as old as your Grandmother but I also turned my husband’s shirt collars. Sears used to sell children’s pants with the double patches on the inside..very handy. I think patches are cool and I am sure you can hunt down some “boy” designs…..not sure about the iron on action though.

11 Mary @ Holy Mackerel February 4, 2010 at 8:15 pm

Our son is hard on his pants as well, and I tried the patch thing, but it didn’t work for long. By the end of Day One, half the patch was off. It’s probably a sign that I shouldn’t even try to do anything resembling sewing…

12 Valerie February 4, 2010 at 8:30 pm

green on navy snow pants would be fine – when I did Sarah’s, I ironed on a series of overlapping diamonds to cover a long slit, trying to be somewhat decorative, then did the other knee to match though there was no hole. Fabricland (and Bouclair used to, not sure if any more) has “interesting” patches, though I’m not sure about older boy styles – I’ve found flowers, butterflies, etc for girls, and dinosaurs & snails for boys. Sammy loves patches and will pick the patched pants first every time!

Mary, the iron-on works best if you iron it on for position, then sew around the edges to fix it more permanently.

13 Finola February 4, 2010 at 8:33 pm

I love this idea: RT @DaniGirl In which I reclaim pants with blown-out knees with old skool patches:

14 Marianne February 5, 2010 at 7:57 am

I’m definitely in favour of patching and repairing clothes, though so far my 2-year-old hasn’t worn through too many clothes (instead, the clothes get wrecked by stains … bleh).

My mother patched many of our clothes. She is greta at sewing, so some of hte patches she was able to do so you coudln’t even tell they were fixed. Others, she made the patches into artwork — hearts, or stars or diamonds in contrasting colours.

I think we don’t see as many patches today because fewer parents know how to sew, or have the time to do it. It’s easier to leave your kid ragged (you wouldn’t believe the number of shredded snowpants I see at school each day!) or to replace them. We’ve become a throw-away society, and then we complain when we have no money! Luckily my daughter is still in the age range where I can buy a lot of her clothes second hand and she doesn’t know the difference.

15 Karen February 5, 2010 at 9:24 am

I occasionally patch my sons pants but I put the patch on the inside. It keeps the hole from getting bigger, and you get the bonus of not having to see the ugly patch.

16 Lynn February 5, 2010 at 5:03 pm

We use these patches all the time. I love them, but I have found that they do peel off over time if you put the pants in the dryer (the heat from the dryer loosens the glue). I usually forget, but I do try to hang the patched pants to dry, or just put them in the dryer on a fluff cycle instead.

17 Miche February 6, 2010 at 9:02 am

Glad I’m not the only one who still patches!

18 Annika February 6, 2010 at 12:51 pm

LOVE it! Thanks for the tip…I will be stopping by Zellers soon. =)

19 Amy @ Muddy Boots February 7, 2010 at 8:36 pm

Um, Dani, aren’t the patches supposed to go on the INSIDE? If the hole is small enough, the colour hardly matters.

Do any stores still do the kid guarantee thing? If a child wears through their clothes before outgrowing them, you get to exchange them for free (if you still have the receipt of course)?

20 Alanna February 10, 2010 at 8:26 pm

Children’s Place will replace any of their pants with or without receipts! With three boys myself, I have started buying all my pants there!

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: