How to darn | How to Patch

Join one of our online workshops and learn how to mend your clothes. Try an introduction to both darning and patching or a specialist masterclass for each technique. Each workshop includes the price of a clothes mending kit worth £10.

Virtual | Online Workshops




£5 discount if you book a darning and patching workshop together. They don’t have to be the same date.

Booking ends 5 days before the workshop date so that we can get your kit to you in time. Kit is worth £10, as seen on our Etsy shop. The workshop will take place via Zoom, joining details will be sent a few days in advance of the class.

Each workshop lasts 90 minutes (except the Slow Sunday event, which is 60mins). It includes live demonstrations, time to practice and ask questions. Please get in touch with any queries.

How to mend Jeans: Part 1

Hand sewing, Boro style patching

We designed this graphic last year before the start of the Covid Pandemic. We had been running two workshops a week and people brought along their clothes to repair. We did an audit to find out the most popular items of clothing to repair and the main issues they had. Jeans were one of the most popular items to repair. Many of them had worn away between the thighs and needed repairing. Usually the rest of the denim is perfectly fine. Mending the jeans brings them back to life, ready to wear again!

With the hole being in between the thighs, I prefer to use a denim patch along with matching thread rather than making a feature of the mend. Not quite invisible mending but not as obvious as visible mending as the example in the how to video. The above photo is of my favourite jeans which have been patched several times. Rather than take off the original patching, I add layers to it and patch over the new holes. I’ve been asked if it makes the jeans uncomfortable to wear but I don’t notice the difference.

First step is to measure the hole in the jeans. If the hole is on both sides of the centre seam then use one patch to fit over the whole area. Cut a piece of denim that is a similar weight, feel and texture to the jeans you are mending. Sew an overstitch around all four edges to prevent the edges from fraying.

Keep the jeans the right side out and open the fastenings as far as they will go. Place the patch over the the holes. Usually the holes are on the back side of the jeans, keep the patch on that side of the centre seam so it covers the holes on both sides of the centre seam. Pin in place with safety pins or dressmaker pins. An embroidery hoop placed over the area you will be stitching is useful to hold the fabric taught. But it isn’t essential.

Step-by-step ‘how to video’ on Boro Patching

In the video above, Eleanor demonstrates how to patch using the Japanese Boro style technique. This technique can be used for all woven fabrics, not just denim. The below video is my husband (Craig) mending his jeans after I taught him this technique. He can sew on a button but usually leaves the clothes mending to me. This is the first time he has tried Boro style patching, I wanted to share the video to show you don’t have to be a sewing whiz to mend your own jeans. Hand sewing is great for mindfulness too!

Boro patching in practice

Sewing Equipment

  • Sharp scissors
  • Sewing needle (sharp ended to get through the denim)
  • Dressmaker pins to hold the patch in place or safety pins also work well
  • Tape measure or ruler to measure the patch
  • Thread – I use a blue to match the denim (not white shown in the photo)
  • Denim patching kits available on our Etsy shop
Denim patching kits available on our Etsy shop – COMING SOON

We are running monthly virtual workshops teaching patching and darning. Join us to learn Boro style patching with the opportunity to practice and ask questions. Book via Eventbrite on the button below. The class takes place via Zoom, instructions and a patching kit (worth £10) is sent in advance of the workshop. Hope to see you there.

London’s Wardrobe: Exclusive visit to the fashion archives & clothes mending workshop at the Museum of London

‘Make-Do And Mend’ is a well known saying but where does it come from? We visited the fashion archives at the Museum of London to find out more…

Beneath the hum of the traffic on London Wall, the fashion archives of the Museum of London sprawl in identical stacked rows. There are over twenty four thousand items all neatly packed in acid free boxes; Hundreds of pairs of gloves carefully placed in draws, umbrellas and parasols. The belt of Princess Margaret’s Dior dress as featured in the recent Dior exhibition at the V&A and a cravat worn by Charles Dickens.

Museum of London Fashion Archives

Turn a corner and we are amongst rows and racks of clothing each covered in a white protective jacket. They look like a line of soldiers with a paper label in place of a medal.

Museum of London Fashion Archives

So where did the phrase ‘Make-Do And Mend’ come from? It was part of a campaign launched by the British Government in 1942, during World War II when clothes were rationed and in short supply. The successful campaign encouraged British residents to preserve their clothes providing leaflets and lessons such as how to darn socks and jumpers or patching jacket elbows. This spawned a wave of ingenuity and instead of giving up on fashion, people came up with new ideas in which to show off their individuality.

However, the mending of clothes pre-dates World War II by many centuries. Hidden amongst the twenty four thousand items are evidence that ‘mending wasn’t only for times of austerity or for the non-elite, everyone did it’ says Dr Lucie Whitmore, Fashion Curator at the Museum of London. Eleanor is given a magnifying glass to inspect the mending on a riding jacket. Dated from the late 18th century, the item is rare as it is a woman’s jacket. Usually sportswear items from this era are menswear. Intricate tiny stitches cover a worn section of the silk cuff and add to the elegance of the jacket.

Women’s riding jacket from 1750-1800, Museum of London

At Fast Fashion Therapy, we encourage the mending of clothes preventing them from being thrown away. But in 2020, we have very different reasons for prolonging the life of clothes. Rather than being scarce, there are more clothes being produced than ever before. In fact, by 2030 global clothing consumption is expected to rise to 102 million tonnes according to Lauren Bravo’s book How to Break Up with Fast Fashion. Mark Sumner, Lecturer of Sustainability at Leeds University estimates ’30 to 40 billion pounds worth of clothing are wasted in the UK’ (Speaking at last year’s Fashion Revolution Question Time at the V&A).

We are working with the Museum of London to host a mending workshop. During the morning, attendees are given exclusive access to the museum’s fashion archives. Dr Lucie Whitmore has hand picked items from the archive to demonstrate mending across three centuries. During the afternoon, we will take inspiration from the items shown and teach you how to mend your own clothes using similar techniques. Learn how to darn a favourite jumper, t-shirt or shirt. Patch your best jeans, a dress or trousers. Bring along an item of clothing you would like to repair (using hand sewing techniques) or we will have samples for you to practice on.

“If the most sustainable item of clothing is the one we already own, then appreciating and wearing those clothes is one of the most powerful differences we can make.”

Lauren Bravo, How to Break Up with Fast Fashion

It is clear from visiting the Museum of London’s Fashion archives that our ancestors cared for their clothes, treating them with the respect they deserved. We hope you will join us at our clothes mending workshop to mend and appreciate your own clothes.

WORKSHOP DETAILS: London’s wardrobe: repair and refashion with Fast Fashion Therapy

Dress from 1948, mended with patches

Join the Curator of Fashion at The Museum of London along with Fast Fashion Therapy for a day of repairing and refashioning some of your key wardrobe pieces. We will start the day with an exclusive behind the scenes visit to the museum’s Dress and Textile Store. Here, our curators will select key pieces from our collection to show you three centuries of mended clothing, and tell you some of the fascinating stories behind the objects. After, we will teach some basic techniques to help you start repairing and keep your clothes lasting longer. This hands on workshop will take you through simple darning techniques for fixing holes in knitwear and visible mending such as patching inspired by the Japanese art of ‘Boro’. All materials and kit will be provided for you to learn the techniques of darning and Boro patching. Feel free to bring one damaged item of clothing to repair in the workshop, but this is not essential.

15th February 2020, 11am to 4pm. Cost £65

Click here to book via the Museum of London’s website

Repair Workshop: Memory Refresher

If you’ve come along to one of our Boro and Darning repair workshops, it might have been a few days/weeks/months since you’ve had a chance to keep practising your newly found mending skills. This quick-fire ‘how to’ guide can act as a little refresher and help you to get started again. You can download the PDF using the link at the bottom of the post, happy mending!