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Some mothers pass secret family recipes to their daughters. Some mothers teach their daughters how to grow heirloom tomatoes. Some mothers pass down family histories. My mother, among other things, taught me how to patch jeans.

Raising five boys on a farm gave my mom plenty of experience in patching jeans. In fact she patched so many jeans that she developed her own special patching technique. The fashionable denim pants that we buy today are already washed and faded, halfway worn out when they come home from the store. But on the farm there are still plenty of traditional 501 Levi Jeans. If you want to extend the life of a pair of  pants that you wear for farmwork or gardening and don’t mind wearing patched jeans here is the patching method I learned from my mom.

Start with a pair of denim jeans that are worn through at the knee. Using a piece of chalk, draw a line framing the area that will be replaced with the patch. Be generous – if you replace only the small section where the hole is the pants will soon wear out above or below the new patch and the jeans will end up right back in the mending pile.


When a pair of jeans were too far gone to patch mom cut panels from the backs of the legs and saved them to use for patches. Cut a panel of denim long enough and wide enough to cover the entire front of the leg.


Remove the stitching in the hem along the side seam. It is not necessary to remove the hem all the way around the leg-just enough to get the side seam opened.DSC01901Often a pair of jeans has one seam that is a flat felled seam (shown at the bottom of the photo below) and the other seam has a serged edge. It is easier to remove the stitching from the seam that is serged. Use a seam ripper to break the stitches and open the seam. Once you have about three inches near the bottom opened you may be able to rip open the remaining seam. Remove the stitching all the way up to the pockets. This will allow you to open the leg to an almost flat work area.DSC01904

Using the chalk line as a guide trim with sturdy, sharp shears, cutting away the worn area from the front of the leg leaving a window. Leave a ½” seam allowance inside the chalk line.


Snip in at the corners.


Place the replacement panel in position filling the window that was cut out in the step above.


Working from the right side, fold the seam allowance under at the chalk line, finger press and pin in place all the way around the patch.DSC01909

Top stitch sewing approximately 1/8” from the folded edge. Grey thread is a good color choice. You may find it helpful to use a denim needle in your sewing machine.


 Top stitch a second row of stitching ¼” away from the edge stitching.


Turn the leg wrong side out and trim the excess fabric away from the patched area.


Re-sew the side seam stitching in the old seam line, if possible. Serge or zig zag the raw edge and trim away any unraveling.


Re-stitch the hem.


Congratulations. You did it! You’ve patched your jeans.DSC01914