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.