Sorry about the crotch picture but I need mending advice
February 28, 2017 1:12 PM   Subscribe

It's rare that my pants wear out in any way other than this - a failure along the seam of my, uh, inseam. I'm wondering if there's a practical way to patch it rather than toss the pants.

I presume it's from friction when walking, but regardless it's been a hassle for most of my adult life. I used to just chalk it up as inevitable, though tossing otherwise good pants always offended my cheapskate sensibility. However I figured any sort of repair would be just as expensive as replacement.

What's changed is that Levis decided to change the cut and fit of my beloved 505s and the new ones aren't comfortable. For a while I had some luck finding old stock on eBay but that's dried up. So I fix them or I don't have them anymore.

So the question is, is there a fix for this sort of thing that's practical? Or vaguely practical? I realize the fray makes simpler fixes out of reach, but since it's barely visible I'm open to less conventional fixes. When I was unable to pay for new pants I used to use iron-on patches over the area but since those don't deal well with dryers it wasn't a lasting fix. For a while I sewed a piece of bandana over the whole area on the inside and it was thin enough to still be comfortable.

Do I just need to suck it up or can I be a stodgy middle-aged man who is unwilling to change?
posted by phearlez to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (8 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
There's a very good crotch hole mending how-to on the (Chicago! some mefites!) Tiny Fix Bike Gang blog here.
posted by phunniemee at 1:18 PM on February 28, 2017 [9 favorites]

You can reinforce or repair the area by installing a gusset.
posted by SaltySalticid at 1:20 PM on February 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

It is possible to patch it internally. Try to get matching material from similar pants. Take it to a good seamstress. You want the seams as invisible or unobtrusive as possible.

My mother is an excellent seamstress. She patched the hell out of dad's favorite jeans. Internal patches were used in some areas. If you have multiple jeans with similar material/color, keep one to use as a source of patches for the others.
posted by Michele in California at 1:21 PM on February 28, 2017

I am both cheap ("frugal") and the owner of thunder thighs, so I have a lot of experience mending the crotches of worn jeans.

I would do an internal patch as Michele in California suggests. When I need to patch jeans, I cut out a piece of the inside of a back pocket. This way, the denim is exactly the same and you can't see the hole. If you're bothered by the fact that you can now feel your bare ass when you stick your hand into your back pocket, you can patch the newly-created pocket hole with any old strong fabric.

Personally I wouldn't take this to a seamstress. I would do this by hand, using running locked sutures (warning, this link is for suturing skin, but it's not too graphic and the procedure is identical to what I use on jeans).
posted by schroedingersgirl at 1:36 PM on February 28, 2017 [3 favorites]

I wear denim out in this area as well, and my dry cleaner will patch internally for ten or fifteen bucks. It's not perfect, but it looks 90% as good as new, and I've never had to repatch before the rest of the jeans wore out.
posted by Kwine at 1:59 PM on February 28, 2017

I am a man who does this to every pair of pants. I have a sewing machine and a free-motion presser foot. I now overlay a piece of matching fabric over the hole (on the inside) and darn the hell out of it with matching thread (essentially steps 5-8 in the Fix Bike Gang how-to linked above but without having to do straight lines). Easy peasy work that you can have a tailor, seamstress, or other alterations person do for you. If this is a persistent problem, learn to darn. It's much cheaper than tossing out pants before their time.

I tend to avoid patching with denim--it's so thick that it can feel like wearing a diaper. Instead, I use pieces of plain old cotton fabric in an appropriate color. You can buy a half yard of fabric for like $2 and it'll get you through all the pairs of pants you'll likely own. Quilting cottons like kona cotton are sturdy but much thinner than denim, making the patch feel more or less just like the rest of the pants, instead of like a folded over piece of cardboard's stuck against your underwear.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 2:25 PM on February 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

My pants fail similarly in a very specific location. I use a combination of thin iron on patch (the ones that aren't iron-on glue on denim, but iron-on glue on a thinner fabric - this prevents the diaper or overly stiff feeling) in addition to sewing. The critical part is that I try to install the patch BEFORE failure if I can. I iron on a patch and then sew the perimeter and also sew through the body of the patch. With the sewing plus iron-on, the patch lasts through dryer cycles without a problem.
posted by quince at 4:26 PM on February 28, 2017

First off, that's the rear pocket stitching showing at the lower corners of the picture, isn't it? Looks like you have a small tear along the inseam, and a larger tear by the crotch seam. The inseam is the seam that goes from one inner ankle to the other, and the crotch seam is the seam that goes from the fly to the back waistband. And yes, "crotch seam" is the actual technical term for that seam -- if you are searching for anything online or calling a tailor or seamstress, using the right term will help.

If you manage to get a new pair of your favorite style, adding a gusset at the outset will help prevent this. I don't know what's going on as far as friction from walking (that's a lot easier to tell from the other side of the jeans), but part of what's going on is that there is stress on the fabric causing it to tear (possibly while sitting or riding a bike). For patching, if you don't have an old pair of jeans in the same color go to a thrift store.

since it's barely visible

A caution -- this is an area that men often think is barely visible, but for many men it's actually pretty visible from the side (and of course the front as well) when sitting in common postures in some types of chairs. Fabrics that look very different from the jeans, especially if they are made a little bit more "roomy" in a way that dangles lower when sitting, have the potential to be fairly visible to onlookers.
posted by yohko at 7:31 PM on February 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

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