Don’t let a ripped seam spell the end for an otherwise wearable garment. If the seam has simply ripped open, breaking the stitches but leaving the fabric intact, the repair is almost always easy and can be done by hand or with a sewing machine. With the right tools and techniques, you can make repairs and keep any visible imperfections to a minimum.
Things You'll Need
- Straight pins
- Embroidery scissors
- All-purpose thread
- Sewing machine
- Ironing board
- Seam ripper
Turn the garment inside out and arrange the fabric so that the ripped-open part of the seam is in front of you. Work in an area with lots of light.
Gently pull away any broken threads that are stuck along the seam line. Trim away the threads at each end of the ripped section using embroidery scissors.
Close the ripped-open part of the seam with your fingers, pressing the seam allowances together and away from the seam. Press the seam allowances flat with an iron, if necessary. Place straight pins along the seam line to close the gap. You might still be able to see a tiny line of holes left from the original stitching along the seam line. Place the pins along this line. Otherwise, place the pins in line with the existing seam.
Thread a needle with an arm’s length of all-purpose thread and knot the end. Double the thread if you are sewing heavy fabric, such as denim. Alternatively, thread a sewing machine and set it to sew a straight stitch of a similar length to the stitches of the existing seam. Sew a test row of stitches on a scrap of fabric, if necessary.
Sew along the seam line starting 1 to 2 inches before the gap. Sew along the existing seam, the seam line of the gap, and 1 to 2 inches of the existing seam on the other side of the gap. If you are hand sewing the seam, use a backstitch and finish the line of stitching with several tiny stitches. If you are machine sewing the seam, backstitch at the beginning and end of the new line of stitches. Remove the pins as you sew. Trim the thread ends.
Press the new stitches flat with an iron and then press the seam allowances open. Turn the garment right side out and press along the outside of the repaired seam.
Turn the garment inside out and arrange the fabric so that the ripped-open part of the seam is in front of you. Again, work in an area with lots of light.
Trim and remove any loose threads from the seam and trim closely along the ripped part of the fabric with embroidery scissors to give it a neat edge. If there is still fabric sewn into the seam allowance on the seam side of the ripped hole, unpick the stitches and discard the fabric scraps.
Unpick the existing seam 2 to 3 inches below the ripped section and 2 to 3 inches above it, enlarging the gap in the seam. Use a seam ripper or embroidery scissors, and be careful not to cut the fabric.
Pull and pin the gap closed, realigning the seam line so that the ripped edge of the gap is within the seam allowance.
Smooth the fabric out and examine the results of the realigned seam. If the fabric is rippled or distorted, take the pins out, unpick more of the existing seam and try again until the fabric lies as smoothly as possible. This repair takes the seam inward slightly along the ripped section, so it might not look perfect. The larger the rip, the more difficult it will be to achieve a nice finish.
Sew the realigned seam in the same way as you would a ripped-open seam.
Press along the seam with an iron, press the seam allowances open and then turn the garment right side out, pressing the seam from that side.
- The Complete Photo Guide to Sewing; Singer
- The Guardian: Mend a Ripped Seam