Nylon fabric is commonly used for outdoor wear, providing protection from the elements and warmth when it's lined. Because people wear nylon jackets during times of active sports, camping and other activities, the fabric is frequently exposed and can be damaged easily through tears and burns. Repairing a hole in a nylon jacket can be accomplished without the help of a professional.
Most nylon jackets are made from rip-stop nylon, which was originally used for making parachutes. This material is windproof, waterproof and breathable, making it an excellent fabric for outerwear, especially lightweight jackets and windbreakers. It’s generally found in two-ply weight and has a Teflon membrane for strength. Ideally, this type of nylon is lined to protect the inner membrane. Nylon jackets typically have three layers, which consist of the Teflon membrane, the facing fabric and a mesh liner to keep it feeling cool when it’s worn.
The most common patches are those available from retailers such as Walmart or Target in the fabric or hobbies departments. The patches are made from self-adhesive nylon, and come packaged in sheets in various colors. The most commonly available colors are red, black, royal blue and beige. It’s easy to choose a patch that matches your jacket if it’s one of these colors, but if it's not a standard color, choose a color that coordinates. One side of the patch is coated with self-adhesive glue and covered with a film of paper that you remove when you are ready to apply the patch.
Other types of materials are useful as patches, although a little less conventional. Some people simply affix a piece of duct tape to the hole in their jackets. It comes in several colors and stays secure even through a washing cycle. Additionally, you can use a roll of 3M9845 seam sticky tape, which is made for repairing sails, or Kenyon tape, which isn‘t as sticky as duct tape. In a pinch, you might try mixing a small amount of silicone caulk with a solvent like mineral spirits to make a paste and dab it on the hole. This only works for a small hole in the jacket. One type of fix you don’t want to use is an iron-on patch. Nylon melts under high heat, so it’s best to avoid using the iron-on type of patch.
Repairing the Hole
Wipe the surface clean on both the inside and outside of the jacket and allow it to dry. Turn the jacket right side out and lay it on a flat surface. Smooth the fabric in the area where it will be fixed, exposing the hole.
Measure the hole and add an additional inch to the diameter for overlap from your patch. Cut a circle from a piece of self-adhesive nylon patch. Using a patch in the shape of a circle ensures there are no corners that will come loose. Remove the backing from the patch and press it over the hole. Rub the entire area of the patch with the back of a spoon in a circular motion to ensure a good seal. Pay special attention to the edges, making sure they are sealed. You can also place a matching patch on the inside of the jacket if the hole goes all the way through. This protects the edges of the hole from pulling loose. Wash your jacket in cold water to extend the life of the patch. If it peels off over time, remove it and apply another one.
In the event you don’t have a patch, you can always sew the hole. Fold the area with the hole in half and trim the edges so they’re even. Whipstitch the hole closed by hand, or sew it together with the same color thread on a sewing machine. Leave enough of an edge to prevent fraying after it’s repaired. There may be a small seam or ridge, depending on where the hole was, but it will be almost invisible once repaired.