Tutorial: Applique to cover rips in clothes

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flower applique on ripped pantsLast July the daughter of a good friend of ours was getting ready to head to the Galapagos (lucky thing, her!). While her mother was ironing her things for the trip she accidentally melted a bit of her versatile polyester pants which were going to be indispensable during the trip. So she brought the pants over to me, hoping for a quick fix. (Quick as in right then and there while the kids were waiting for me to finish so we could watch a movie together. Hence the limited number of photos!)flower applique on ripped pants

I immediately thought of adding some sort of patch. From the proposals I made, the girl perked up when I suggested making a flower patch. She perked up even more when I showed her my fabric scraps and told her to pick out the ones she liked the most. While she was deciding, I drew a petal and a circle on the back paper side of my Heat ‘n’ Bond Lite (the best applique material I’ve ever used). I folded the paper accordion style to cut out six petals exactly the same size and then just the one circle for the center of the flower.

flower applique on ripped pantsI then ironed the pieces onto the back of the chosen fabric according to the Heat ‘n’ Bond instructions.

flower applique on ripped pantsI wasn’t sure if the fusible adhesive would stick to the other side of the leg through the holes, so I cut out another piece of scrap fabric (recognize that fabric?) big enough to go under the whole flower…

flower applique on ripped pants…and I stuck it inside the leg, positioning it under where the flower would go. In the end this step wasn’t necessary as the adhesive didn’t stick to this scrap and I just pulled it back out before sewing, but you might want to take this precaution anyway just in case.

flower applique on ripped pantsNext I cut the fabric along the edge of the paper and placed them over the pants so as to cover all the melted holes and look more or less even.

flower applique on ripped pantsI then removed all but one petal, removed the paper backing from it and ironed it down. I then continued to iron the other pieces down one by one, being careful to keep the right arrangement. As experience had taught us that these pants could be melted, I ironed at a lower heat with an ironing cloth over the pants so as to avoid further disasters. The bond this way wasn’t as strong as it would’ve been using a higher heat directly so it was absolutely necessary to sew down the edges.

flower applique on ripped pantsAs the kids were getting restless at this point, I sewed a very quick (and imperfect) zig zag stitch around all the petals and then around the inner circle of the flower. I wouldn’t have chosen this combination of fabrics honestly and I probably would’ve been able to do a much better job if I’d had more time, but when I showed the result to the girl, she immediately exclaimed, “È bellissimo!” And it seems that those pants got lots of use in the Galapagos the following month!

5 thoughts on “Tutorial: Applique to cover rips in clothes”

  1. I love patches! I recently did a few for my fiancé, although he wouldn’t let me do patches, ha! Such an easy way to update and give new life to garments otherwise unworthy.


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