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What's better machine darning or patching

By Maurice Malone  Published April 15, 2021

We've been repairing jeans since 2017. When we first started, we were learning and experimenting, intending to someday be the best in the business. When we look back at the work from our early years as compared to today, it is drastically different.

Old vintage Levi's jeans with large rip and holes patch repaired at crotch.

We see an awful lot of jeans and have improved our work by repairing the work of others. We've examined both bad & good techniques. We have also learned from trying different techniques and over time, revising the work using our own personal jeans to see what stands the test of time and wears well.

We have studied denim repairs done on darning machines versus patching, finding the positives and negatives of both.

Darning Machine:

The repair work from a darning machine is often less visible and harder to detect than patch repairs. It is a great technique for nearly invisible mends in the center of legs or other areas which don't incur stress. That's the positive if your goal is less detectable mending.

The negative. Darning machine repairs do not stretch or flex as well. For stretch and lightweight denim, we do not recommend it at all. We often repair jeans that have machine darning, because tears occurred along the points where the fabric meets the new weaving. For repairing high-stress areas like the crotch and seat, it may look less visible, but we find it less practical and long-lasting. The cost is also usually more expensive.

Patch Repairs:

Often more visible than the work from a darning machine, when done correctly, it can last longer and is more durable because the technique stretches and gives. For many, the look of patchwork is more desired, giving old jeans character with each new repair. For our repairs sewer, each pair of jeans is an opportunity to create a new work-of-art. Although we're known for doing great work, tapering and hemming jeans, our repair sewer is the only staff member who makes customers so happy they tip for appreciation.

The negative. There are so many techniques! Different services, tailors, and home sewers often do things differently, which is why we emphasize "when done correctly." No hole repair is the same, so we look at each, and may approach them differently. A key rule with our repairs is no hard lines.  Meaning, the borderline of a repaired area must zig-zag or fade out into the fabric. There should be no firm line between the repair and fabric. This helps to minimize tearing along the repair, which we've seen fixing both machine and patchwork from other services or tailors. Never, never should a patch be sewn around a hole with a straight stitch, even if filled with zip-zag or backstitching. This with cause a hard line and a bubbling effect.

Refurbished vintage Levi’s women’s blue jeans with tear repaired at pocket. Shop denim repairs to fix rips and holes in jeans.

There are times when cutting out the fray or weft yarns looks better, and times when keeping them is preferred. It's a matter of taste or sewing advantage. Tap the image above to shop our repair services.