How to darn | How to Patch

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. 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.

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 – COMING SOON
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.

Clothes Mending Workshops at Home

Our workshops at The Create Place are on pause whilst we are in Tier 4 (we are based in London). We are hoping to get back to our workshops in a socially distanced way very soon.

In the meantime we are continuing with our social mending sessions on Zoom, the first Tuesday of the month. Bring along some clothes mending whilst we chat. We will be on hand to answer any clothes mending questions you have. Not joined one of our sessions before? Everyone is welcome. It isn’t a teaching workshop, more of a social clothes mending session. An hour to encourage us all to mend our clothes. Bring along one or two items of clothing to mend with a basic sewing kit. We chat whilst we mend and feel free to ask clothes mending questions to us and the group. Sign up for our newsletter to receive Zoom joining details.


Our Repair cafe offers 1:1 advice via video call. Book for a 30 minute session and we can get you started with your mend. Tickets are £9 including booking fee. £2.50 will be donated to charity (Refuge, Fashion Revolution and Trussell Trust). Email us to arrange a time and book your appointment.


Tips to help you start mending



Clothing Maintenance 101: Overstitch

How to sew an overstitch

Overstitch is a simple and effective hand sewing technique. It is really useful when it comes to mending clothes. The stitch can prevent fraying, hold two pieces of fabric together or useful for patching.

Watch our video on how to sew an overstitch

Examples of using an overstitch

Repairing a rip on a pillowcase by cutting a square of fabric from inside the pillowcase
Using a thicker thread and a larger stitch has created a decorative effect when patching this leather bag with faux suede
Mending a bra by overstitching a piece of ribbon over the underwire channel preventing the wire from poking out and digging into the skin.
Creating an Elbow patch by using a thicker yarn and sewing the stitches very close together. Georgina from Pebble Magazine mended her tweed jacket by covering the elbow rib with the patch.

Weekend Clothes Mending

It might be a bit dull being stuck inside on a rainy weekend but on the positive side we caught up with some of our clothes mending. Although we teach clothes mending techniques to others, our own pile of clothes mending seems to get bigger rather than smaller.

First up was a vintage leather bag that’s suede outer casing contained some very big holes and tears. I patched the holes with scrapes of faux suede left over from industry waste. I used a large over stitch with a thicker thread to create a decorative effect. I’m really pleased with the result and think the mend adds to the texture and design of the bag.

Next up is a favourite dress that I managed to get bleach on. I cut off the bottom and re-hemmed giving it a re-style. We have created a video on how to re-hem trousers, I used the same principle for the dress, although I did use a sewing machine to re-stitch rather than hand sewing.

Lastly, I took in the waistband on a pair of casual trousers. The fabric was quite fine so it was simple to do. I put on the trousers, pinned where I need to take them in and made sure it was even on both sides. Working from the outside I used a sewing machine to top stitch a line on the new seam I had created. I used a matching thread so the stitching is only visible from the outside. This only works to take in a waist a few cm on each side. Any more than that and it will distort the main body of the trousers.

If you are looking for specific clothes mending advice then please get in touch and we can arrange a 1:1 clothes mending session with you for a small fee. Or join one of our free zoom workshops.

How to Take Up a Hem

Clothes rarely fit perfectly when we buy them, especially if we have acquired them from a charity shop, vintage fair or clothes swap. Taking up a hem on a pair of trousers is a fairly simple task and you don’t need a sewing machine. The secret is to measure, try-on, measure, try-on. Repeat several times before cutting the hem.

A basic sewing repair kit is needed, including a tape measure, iron and ironing board

Watch our ‘how to’ video on taking up hems


We have filmed a separate video on how to hand sew the hem in place, click on the button below to be redirected to this blog post.

This same alteration technique can be used to shorten the hem of a skirt, dress, shorts or even sleeves. When measuring a skirt, use the waistband as the point of reference to measure down to the hem. Measure approximately 6 places around the skirt.

With a dress, find the waist point, usually there is a seam at the waist. Use this as a reference point in the same way as a skirt. For sleeves the measuring reference point is the armhole seam.

Taking up jeans uses the same method for the measuring part. We do recommend using a sewing machine as denim fabric is thick to sew by hand. Read our blog on how to take up the hem on jeans.

Top Tip: Save any pieces of fabric left over from cutting the hem. They are useful for patching clothes.

Looking for some specific advice? Book an appointment at our online repair cafe. Each appointment is 30 minutes to help you get started on your alteration or clothes repair.

‘Darning’ video tutorial

We’ve got a new ‘Darning’ video tutorial on our YouTube channel!

This video will take you through the basics of how to darn holes in knitwear. The technique can be used on an area that’s just worn down or where a hole has appeared to strengthen the item of clothing and create a new piece of fabric in the damaged area. This video shows a visible style of mending but the same technique can be used to repair invisibly if you use a matching thread.

If you’re looking for the basic kit you need to get started on your darning, head to our Shop to find our new darning kits!

Don’t have a darning mushroom at home? How about something from your kitchen? Read our blog on what to use around your home in place of a darning mushroom.

Find-it-at-home Darning Mushrooms!

Alternative Darning Mushrooms – (Clockwise from top) GU Pudding Jar, Reuseable Coffee Cup, Granite Pestle, Old Marmalade Jar

If you’ve come along to one of our workshops in the past, you’ll know we normally have some darning mushrooms on hand to help you get fixing your favourite pieces of moth-eaten knitwear. If you’re thinking about getting your own darning mushroom, there are lots of second-hand ones on Ebay and Gumtree that are worth checking out, but we understand that getting a hold of your own darning mushroom might not be an option for you right now.

So what can you use instead? The main thing you need from your darning aid is a flat, hard surface to work on – avoid using anything covered in fabric, as this could get caught on your needle as your darning. Look for something that is fairly light and easy to hold, you don’t want to feel uncomfortable as your mending. Finally, think about the size of the hole that you’re mending, you may find something that works well for a small hole but doesn’t offer enough support on a larger area. Just like when you are learning a new technique, play around with different options to find what’s right for you! Below is a round-up of a few options we found around the home to use…

Marmalade Jar as an alternative Darning Mushroom

Option 1 – Old Marmalade Jar

This works well when using the bottom of the jar as it’s a large flat surface, the rounded edges have a similar feel to a normal darning mushroom and the area around the lid is quite easy to hold. It is a bit wider to hold than a normal mushroom so may take a bit of practice to get a comfortable position.

GU pudding jar used as an alternative Darning Mushroom

Option 2 – Old GU Pudding Jar/Glass Ramekin

This is a great excuse for buying a GU pudding as a treat as well! This one works well as the jar is not too deep so you can hold the fabric underneath as you would around the mushroom handle. The base of the jar is large and flat so can fit lots of different sized holes on.

Reuseable Coffee Cup as an alternative Darning Mushroom

Option 3 – Reuseable Coffee Cup

This one is useful for smaller darns as the bottom is narrower than the top. This is a bamboo cup so the fabric could slip around a bit as you’re working on it, securing it in place with a tie around the bottom could help.

Granite Pestle as an alternative Darning Mushroom

Option 4 – Granite Pestle

This one is really nice to hold and has a similar feel to holding a Darning Mushroom. The pestle used here is quite narrow so would only work with smaller holes, but different sized pestles could be more adaptable!

Let us know if you find any alternatives around your home that we haven’t mentioned here. We’ll be posting a ‘Darning’ how-to video in the next week to give you more support with your mending at home.

Clothes Maintenance 101: How to sew on a button

Sometimes it is the small things that stop us from wearing our favourite clothes. In our series, Clothes Maintenance 101, we demonstrate common fixes helping to make our clothes wearable again.

Sewing on a button is a simple task. It doesn’t take very long if you know how and have a basic sewing repair kit. In this video Sarah runs through the variety of buttons available and how to fix them back onto a garment.

Where to buy spare buttons

Start collecting your own spare buttons in a disused jar. Some garments come with a small packet of spare buttons that can be added to the jar. Charity shops often have packs of random buttons for sale, but we appreciate they are accessible whilst we are social distancing. We have pulled together some of our collection for sale on our Etsy shop. A random mix of buttons apx 30 buttons with some designs having 6 of the same button included (e.g white shirt buttons).


apx 30 buttons for £4 (free postage) | Reused and recycled packaging

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