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Mending Pants

There is sewing and then there is mending. Sewing, in general, is about expression and creativity. Sewing is the art of transforming fabrics into garments and usable objects. Mending is about using sewing to fix broken stuff, which is not quite so inspirational (or fun, for that matter). But, there is definitely a skill to mending because it needs to be done well because the whole goal is for the repaired item to not look like it was damaged in the first place. One of these days I have to share the mending samples from the 1930s that I picked up at an estate sale a while back. They are amazing in their attention to detail. These days we are not as frugal and tend to simply toss things when they become damaged rather than take the time to mend them.

Mending is not my favorite thing to do, but with a husband and a son who think that changing clothes before working or playing in the yard is for sissies, it is something I have to do on a regular basis (I do require that the damaged items be washed before they end up on my sewing table). I have done many types of mending projects and in this article I am going to show you a quick and easy way to fix a broken waistband closure on a pair of men's pants.

mending clothesTake a look at this picture and see if you notice anything missing. Yup, the bar side of the hook and eye closure is gone. Fortunately, this is a fairly easy fix.

I am not a big fan of this type of closure on men's pants because they are not as durable as I would like them to be. So, when one of the hook and eye parts comes loose, rather than sewing a new bar on, I convert them to a button closure instead. A button closure may look more casual, but the pant closure is typically covered with a belt and doesn't show.

mending clothesThe first step is to go spelunking for the back plate of the missing component that is still trapped inside the waistband. Using a seam ripper, carefully make a small opening in a seam near where the plate is.

mending clothesFish out the plate through the opening you just made, using pliers if necessary, and discard the back plate. Slip stitch the opening closed again. Carefully remove the other side of the closure and discard it as well.

mending clothesFind a suitable button that matches your garment. I find that the best button size for men's pants is one that is between 1/2" and 3/4" in diameter. To avoid having to mend these pants again, try to also select a thicker, heavier duty button.

mending clothesSew a horizontal buttonhole that is centered between the upper and lower edges of the waistband. Waistbands tend to be heavily reinforced in this area which can affect how your machine sews, so I always make a few practice buttonholes on a piece of heavy denim material so I can check and fine-tune the finished size of the buttonhole. The thickness of the waistband can cause the buttonhole foot to drag so the buttonhole ends up being substantially shorter than you need it to be. Taking a few extra minutes now can save a lot of frustration later.

Once the buttonhole is sewn, check the button against it to make sure that it is the right size before you cut the buttonhole open. I like to also run a thin line of Fray Check along the ends and sides of the buttonhole (on the back side) before cutting it open.

The last step is to sew on the button securely using a double-thickness of thread. To give the button a little room for movement, I hold a large tapestry needle or toothpick under the button while sewing it on which creates a little shank that will accommodate the thickness of the waistband and reduce the pressure on the button.

I hope you found this mending tip helpful! Happy Sewing!

For more mending help, check out these books:

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