Q & Answer: Fixing Holes or Tears in Tailored Clothing
Craig asks: I recently developed a small tear on the right side of my suit pants, and the place that made the suit no longer has the original fabric, so I can’t have another pair made (the suit was custom). Is there anything I can do besides throw these away? I’m open to anything, but would like to not throw good money after bad. 
One of the biggest myths about expensive clothes is that they’ll last you a lifetime. Some things last a while, to be sure, but no matter how well made, anything can develop a hole, snag, or tear. When these things happen with suits or sport coats, the best solution is usually to have the fabric “rewoven.”
That can mean one of two things. The first is what’s known as French reweaving or invisible reweaving, where individual strands of thread are woven into the original cloth. It’s sort of like what I recently had done on my sweater. In this way, the new threads are “filling in” the hole. 
The other technique is known as overweaving or inweaving. Here, a small patch is used to cover up the hole or tear, and then the frayed edges are woven into the suit in order to help conceal the patch. As you can guess, French reweaving tends to be good for small holes or tears, while inweaving is good for anything that’s too big to easily “fill.”
Note, any kind of repair can be seen if you look hard enough. The question is just how well it can be made to look “invisible.” Often times, such are repairs are very, very good and will be hard to detect, but a lot depends on the damage and fabric at hand. Generally speaking:
Darker colors are easier to work with, although for some reweavers, black is the hardest of all.
The finer the weave, the more difficult it is to repair (no surprise).
Solids are typically easier to work with than patterns, but a lot depends on the type of pattern that’s being compared.
Anything with synthetics will be hard to work with, if not impossible.
You mentioned that you had the suit custom made. In such cases, it’s sometimes a good to keep a little extra of the cloth, just for situations like this. Otherwise, the reweaver will have to take material from an inconspicuous place on your suit, or try to find a closely matching material somewhere on the market. Sometimes your tailor will keep a little extra of the original cloth (even if it’s not enough for a new pair of pants) and have a reweaver he or she can recommend. It’s best to check with them. Otherwise, search around for a reweaver. For what it’s worth, I’ve had good experiences sending sport coats to Best Weaving & Mending, and sending knitwear to The French American Reweaving Company.

Q & Answer: Fixing Holes or Tears in Tailored Clothing

Craig asks: I recently developed a small tear on the right side of my suit pants, and the place that made the suit no longer has the original fabric, so I can’t have another pair made (the suit was custom). Is there anything I can do besides throw these away? I’m open to anything, but would like to not throw good money after bad. 

One of the biggest myths about expensive clothes is that they’ll last you a lifetime. Some things last a while, to be sure, but no matter how well made, anything can develop a hole, snag, or tear. When these things happen with suits or sport coats, the best solution is usually to have the fabric “rewoven.”

That can mean one of two things. The first is what’s known as French reweaving or invisible reweaving, where individual strands of thread are woven into the original cloth. It’s sort of like what I recently had done on my sweater. In this way, the new threads are “filling in” the hole.

The other technique is known as overweaving or inweaving. Here, a small patch is used to cover up the hole or tear, and then the frayed edges are woven into the suit in order to help conceal the patch. As you can guess, French reweaving tends to be good for small holes or tears, while inweaving is good for anything that’s too big to easily “fill.”

Note, any kind of repair can be seen if you look hard enough. The question is just how well it can be made to look “invisible.” Often times, such are repairs are very, very good and will be hard to detect, but a lot depends on the damage and fabric at hand. Generally speaking:

  • Darker colors are easier to work with, although for some reweavers, black is the hardest of all.
  • The finer the weave, the more difficult it is to repair (no surprise).
  • Solids are typically easier to work with than patterns, but a lot depends on the type of pattern that’s being compared.
  • Anything with synthetics will be hard to work with, if not impossible.

You mentioned that you had the suit custom made. In such cases, it’s sometimes a good to keep a little extra of the cloth, just for situations like this. Otherwise, the reweaver will have to take material from an inconspicuous place on your suit, or try to find a closely matching material somewhere on the market. Sometimes your tailor will keep a little extra of the original cloth (even if it’s not enough for a new pair of pants) and have a reweaver he or she can recommend. It’s best to check with them. Otherwise, search around for a reweaver. For what it’s worth, I’ve had good experiences sending sport coats to Best Weaving & Mending, and sending knitwear to The French American Reweaving Company.

Reweaving Holes

Want to see something neat?

If you ever develop a hole in your clothes – whether from a moths, pulled threads, or just who knows what – you can sometimes have the fabric rewoven by a specialist. Reweaving is what you think it is: repairing a garment by filling in the hole instead of patching it up, ironing on a fusible, or stitching the cloth over on itself. Unlike those techniques, reweaving will be near invisible if done well.

I recently had a blue sweater rewoven by The French American Reweaving Company. The first photo above shows the area with the hole. It was maybe around the size of a pea, and looked like it would get worse if I didn’t take care of it soon. So after noticing it, I sent it to New York to be repaired and just got the garment back last week. You can see the results in the second photo. It’s almost impossible to tell where the damage was. 

Not every hole can be repaired like this, of course, and much depends on the type of fabric you have. Silks and cottons are generally not repairable, and certain synthetics can be tough. Knits are also easier than wovens, and solid colors are easier than fabrics with intricate designs. That said, almost anything can be repaired – sweaters, sport coats, suit jackets, trousers, etc. It just depends on the fabric and kind of damage at hand.

To know if something you have can be repaired, send it to The French American Reweaving Company for an assessment. Ron Moore, the owner of the company, is an absolute perfectionist and will give you an honest opinion of what he thinks can be done. His company has been in business since the 1930s and he’s been in the trade since the 1960s. That’s a lot of experience. Prices aren’t cheap (I paid $50 for my repair) and the turnaround time is quite variable (Ron said they can usually send things back within ten days, but my job took two months since it was harder to source the yarn). Still, if you have a favorite sport coat, sweater or pair of trousers, this is an infinitely better than what your local alterations tailor can probably do for you. 

Fixing a Pull on a Silk Tie

I’ve had this glen plaid Isaia tie for about a year now. I love it, but unfortunately, it has a few snags in the silk. The tie looks fine for the most part when I wear it, but the imperfection means that I always reach for something else before picking up this one. It’s a shame too because I love the big, bold glen plaid pattern, and would otherwise enjoy wearing it at least a few times a month. 

I thought about just letting it go and passing it to a friend, but before I did, I wanted to give one last ditch effort at repairing it. Funny enough, after a quick Google search, I came across this old post that Jesse published. In it, he quoted a StyleForum member named Orgetorix, who suggested that you could repair a tie by threading a needle, pushing it through the tie’s envelope, and essentially “weave” the silk back into the fabric. It took me a few tries and some experimenting. For example, I found that a bigger needle worked better for the looser weave on my Isaia tie. It also seemed that the trick was in pulling the threaded needle through as quickly as possible. If I moved too slowly, there didn’t seem to be enough friction to push the snag in. 

After about twenty minutes of work, however, my tie was fixed. I’ve posted before and after photos above. I’d like to think that the repairs are so good that you can’t tell where the snags were, so I’ve placed my sewing needle next to where the damage used to be. 

Now I feel like I have a brand new tie, thanks to Jesse and Orgetorix!

When was the last time you wore a piece of clothing until it needed repair, fixed it (or had it fixed), then wore it more?
In an age of decorative elbow patches, here’s a reminder from a time of rationing.
(poster via BoingBoing)

When was the last time you wore a piece of clothing until it needed repair, fixed it (or had it fixed), then wore it more?

In an age of decorative elbow patches, here’s a reminder from a time of rationing.

(poster via BoingBoing)

Fixing a Pull in a Silk Tie

A StyleForum user named Orgetorix recommended this method for repairing a pulled thread in silk.  He says it’s worked for him a number of times… the next time I’m going to try this before I throw away a tie with a conspicuous pull.

Here’s a technique I’ve used with success to fix pulls in silk: Thread a fine needle with normal thread like you’d use to sew on a button. Don’t wax it or anything—you want some friction. Using a magnifying glass if necessary, try to stick the point of the needle through the silk fabric at the exact point where one end of the pulled thread comes out. You’re trying to get it through the same “hole” in the weave. Pull the needle and thread through to the other side of the fabric and all the way out. If you’re lucky, the friction of the thread passing through the hole will take the pulled thread with it and pull it to the back of the fabric where it’s unseen.

Hope this makes sense. It’s worked for me on various silks, mainly on ties.

Q and Answer: Treating Crotch Blowout
"Crotchless in Chicago" writes:  After watching your excellent episode on denim, I decided to try  out your recommendations on wearing raw denim jeans.  Six months later,  I am having the same problem I have had with many jeans in the past and  would like your recommendations on my situation.  The current pair of  jeans are Levis 527s which I purchased in early December and have been  wearing almost every day since.  They have been hand washed in Woolite  Dark exactly three times.  The problem is that  two or three months ago I started noticing significant wear in the  crotch just behind the seam.  I noticed this morning that this wear has  progressed into actual holes.  Just about every pair of jeans I have  owned have ended this way.  Is there some way I could prevent this or mend a pair after they begin  to show wear? 
First of all: let it be said that we do not endorse relaxed boot-cut denim.
OK: that aside, on to the issue of crotch blowout.
By far the biggest problem with rarely-washed raw denim jeans is crotch blowout.  It doesn’t happen to everyone, but for some of us - presumably those of us with meatier thighs or sweatier balls - it is a consistent problem.  The crotch is both the most friction-prone and swampiest area of the jeans, and the combination (dirt and moisture weakening the fabric, friction breaking fibers) can lead to a threadbare patch or even holes.
Patching jeans is easy enough.  Better to catch the problem early, but your tailor can repair the damage largely invisibly for ten dollars or so.  Many denim aficionados appreciate the “hand-made” look of a home patching - you can buy the patch at any fabric store for a couple dollars.  You can also send them to a denim specialist like Denim Therapy in New York, who charge $7/inch of damage, and ship nationwide.  If you want a perfect repair, call your local denim specialist retailer and see who they recommend.
Another option that I’ve used successfully in the past is using a fabric repair glue like Tear Mender.  This stuff is like a weird rubber cement specifically for fabric.  It dries clear and flexible, and does a great job of arresting fraying.  I put some on the seam in my crotch when it looks like it might start to go, and on the inside of my knees when they get dangerously thin, and it’s held quite well.  Be careful not to use too much - if it’s globby, it will attract dirt.

Q and Answer: Treating Crotch Blowout

"Crotchless in Chicago" writes:  After watching your excellent episode on denim, I decided to try out your recommendations on wearing raw denim jeans.  Six months later, I am having the same problem I have had with many jeans in the past and would like your recommendations on my situation.  The current pair of jeans are Levis 527s which I purchased in early December and have been wearing almost every day since.  They have been hand washed in Woolite Dark exactly three times.  The problem is that two or three months ago I started noticing significant wear in the crotch just behind the seam.  I noticed this morning that this wear has progressed into actual holes.  Just about every pair of jeans I have owned have ended this way.  Is there some way I could prevent this or mend a pair after they begin to show wear?

First of all: let it be said that we do not endorse relaxed boot-cut denim.

OK: that aside, on to the issue of crotch blowout.

By far the biggest problem with rarely-washed raw denim jeans is crotch blowout.  It doesn’t happen to everyone, but for some of us - presumably those of us with meatier thighs or sweatier balls - it is a consistent problem.  The crotch is both the most friction-prone and swampiest area of the jeans, and the combination (dirt and moisture weakening the fabric, friction breaking fibers) can lead to a threadbare patch or even holes.

Patching jeans is easy enough.  Better to catch the problem early, but your tailor can repair the damage largely invisibly for ten dollars or so.  Many denim aficionados appreciate the “hand-made” look of a home patching - you can buy the patch at any fabric store for a couple dollars.  You can also send them to a denim specialist like Denim Therapy in New York, who charge $7/inch of damage, and ship nationwide.  If you want a perfect repair, call your local denim specialist retailer and see who they recommend.

Another option that I’ve used successfully in the past is using a fabric repair glue like Tear Mender.  This stuff is like a weird rubber cement specifically for fabric.  It dries clear and flexible, and does a great job of arresting fraying.  I put some on the seam in my crotch when it looks like it might start to go, and on the inside of my knees when they get dangerously thin, and it’s held quite well.  Be careful not to use too much - if it’s globby, it will attract dirt.