I’m not sure why exactly, but my husband has gone on an elbow-tearing bender with his work shirts. Right in front of my eyes he tore the elbows out of two shirts while putting them on yesterday morning! We’re trying to keep to a budget these days (and try to live frugally and consciously in general) so I decided to try to mend the shirts to avoid buying new ones (four in total!!!). I’ve written up a little tutorial here that I hope is easy to follow!
– thread in the color of the shirt
– fusible interfacing
Step 1: Interfacing.
To add some stability to the torn area, I first started by fusing a small patch of interfacing to the shirt. Fusible interfacing is two-sided; fabric on one and little bumps of glue on the other. You can see in the picture below the smooth side of the interfacing is in the foreground and the fusible side in the back.
I cut a patch of interfacing about at least a half inch larger than the tear in each dimension. I’ve also found with past experience that round edges are less likely to peel up than sharp corners, so cut out a oval rather than a rectangle.
Lay the shirt on the ironing board then lay the interfacing patch on top of the tear, glue bump-side down (contacting the shirt). Try to pull the tear together as much as possible so that the two torn sides of fabric are in contact. This will make your mending job easier and less noticeable. Set your iron to as high a heat as your fabric will allow and iron with even, firm pressure for about 15 seconds then allow to cool.
Step 2: Sewing the Tear
First neaten up the tear by trimming any loose threads that are hanging off the shirt.
Next, you need to sew the tear itself closed. You’ve got two options for this depending on how noticeable you want the final tear to be. Option 1 is waaaaaaaaaaaaaay faster, but definitely a more noticeable mend and may work better on non-patterned shirts.
Option 1: Set your sewing machine to a wide zigzag stitch and top stitch over the tear, making sure to backstitch at the beginning and end of the sew and to catch both sides of the tear while sewing. You’re left with a neat mend, but one that can definitely be noticed.
Option 2: This option is much more tedious than the first because it requires hand-stitching. Using the smallest stitches possible, I sewed over the tear making sure to catch both sides of it. Since this was a patterned shirt, as I sewed I tried to keep my stitches with the white thread to the white parts of the check pattern. I then sewed in a similar fashion about 2 mm around the tear for extra stability.
Tear??? What tear?? Ok, it’s not quite invisible and you’ll never have a perfect mend but this is pretty darn close!!! Keep in mind this image is zoomed in on the tear and when he’s wearing it, you’re really hard pressed to find it!
Step 3: Secure the Interfacing
I find that over successive washes, fusible interfacing often starts to peel up off the fabric it was attached to. To try to keep this from happening, I also used tiny stitches around the perimeter of the patch, keeping to the white parts of the pattern to secure the edges of the interfacing and add extra stability (You can just make this out in the picture above).
Here’s how the wrong side of the repair looks: