How to Repair Tears in a Linen

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Mending a tear can extend the life of your favorite linens.
Mending a tear can extend the life of your favorite linens. (Image: Kim Steele/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Repairing expensive linens can seem like a daunting task. However, it is possible to mend and repair most tears and rips so they are almost invisible. Tears are typically either straight or L-shaped, because they usually follow the fabric grain. You can extend the life of your fine linens for years to come with a few simple items.

Things You'll Need

  • Mending tape
  • Scissors
  • Tailor’s chalk
  • Thread
  • Patching materials
  • Iron
  • Tissue paper
  • Needle, size 8 or 9

Linen Repairs with Mending Tape

Lay the linen item face down on an ironing board. Fit the torn edges together as closely as possible.

Trim any stray threads. Place a piece of clear adhesive tape over the tear to hold it in place.

Cut a piece of adhesive mending tape slightly larger than the tear. Position it over the torn area, adhesive side facing down.

Outline the edge of the mending tape using tailor's chalk.

Remove the mending tape and the clear adhesive tape from the fabric.

Fit the tear edges together again and place the mending tape over them, adhesive side down. Align the mending tape edges with the chalk outline edges. Ensure the fit is as close as possible.

Iron the adhesive patch to the fabric, following the mending tape manufacturer’s package directions. Allow the patch to cool and set before using the linen item.

Linen Repairs with Needle and Thread

Hold the torn linen edges together tightly. Sew the fabric to a piece of white tissue paper with long stitches using a size 8 or 9 fine sewing needle. This type of stitching is called basting. The tissue will serve as a temporary patch.

Sew back and forth across the tear. Stitch through both the fabric and tissue paper until the entire tear is repaired.

Carefully pull the tissue away. Remove the basting thread from the linen.

Tips & Warnings

  • Repairing a linen tear with a fine sewing needle and thread results in a more refined repair.
  • Use a slightly lighter thread shade than the fabric to achieve the best blend if you are having a problem matching thread color to your linen.
  • Drying linens in direct sunlight helps kill bacteria and brings out the natural, crisp linen smell. However, it tends to develop a brittle quality if dried for too long.
  • Avoid storing dirty linen, since it will attract mildew. If you notice mildew on stored linens, soak them in a mild solution of water and a small amount of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide for several minutes before washing.
  • Avoid storing linens in plastic bags. Store in cloth bags instead.

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