A pointy right elbow vs. sweaters
December 24, 2017 11:42 AM   Subscribe

I have dozens of sweaters. It seems like half have holes at the right elbow. Is there anything I can have done to "restore" these to something which is acceptable to wear in public?

Let's also assume my sloth is a given, and I'm not going to be able to adapt my habits to keep my elbow off my desk as I work, which I expect is the source of the holes.

Ideally, I'd like to find some sort of service I can send a bunch of wool sweaters to and have them come back looking something akin to what they did before, not with leather patches on the 'bows or anything like that.

Is there anything to be done, or are these now just "workshop wear"?
posted by maxwelton to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (7 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
You are looking for someone who can darn the holes in your sweaters. It looks like Total Fashion in Seattle does a good job of this--this review from March of this year says they repaired two holes invisibly in a cashmere sweater: "When I returned to pick up the sweater, Sun had me look for the former holes in the sweater and I laughed out loud, I couldn't find them!"
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:23 PM on December 24, 2017 [3 favorites]

Yeah, it's really just a question of how much you are willing to pay and how good you want it to look. I routinely repair small holes in my sweaters by darning; the fix is generally not quite invisible (partly because I rarely have the exact same color thread, and partly because I am impatient and don't care that much) but it's not noticeable either.

The heavier the yarn and the smaller the hole, the easier/cheaper it is to fix. It can be fairly painstaking work, and is likely to be priced accordingly (most tailors will want to see the hole before they give you a quote). But even fairly large holes can be invisibly reknitted by a good repairperson.
posted by mskyle at 12:33 PM on December 24, 2017 [2 favorites]

In new sweaters you could have the elbows reinforced with patches on the inside to prevent holes from forming, which is an easier and less expensive thing a tailor will happily do for you. Darning and otherwise invisibly repairing holes in knitwear is kind of an art and will be priced accordingly by anyone who is any good at it.

On habit adaptation: Adapt your habitat to your habits instead? Depending on what you do at your desk, can you cover the part of it that you rest your elbow on with something softer? I'm thinking an old school blotter, a self-healing cutting mat, a large mouse pad, cork tiles...?
posted by Mizu at 1:48 PM on December 24, 2017 [5 favorites]

Mizu, I had no idea tailors would reinforce the insides of elbows. Is it relatively invisible? This would be a game-changer for a sharp-elbowed sweater-loving friend of mine.
posted by halation at 4:45 PM on December 24, 2017

Halation, it's just like having a crotch or other seam reinforced. I haven't had a professional tailor do this but I've worked with a lot of cosplay group tailors and theater wardrobe masters who've put many a patch on the inside of garments in high-wear spots. And I've had tailors help me reinforce busting bust shaping with interior interfacing fixes on fancy dresses. Me, I'm not so much with the pointy bits. :)

Techniques differ depending on fabric and garment construction and the wearer's needs but you can put a patch on anything! To make it "invisible" you can either use iron-on fusible fabrics, get very careful with your thread matching, or if the fabric is thick enough you can do hand stitching to catch on the inside of the fabric without going all the way through to the outside. It all depends on what you need in terms of wear and washability. It compromises the ease of washing and drying, the stretch and maybe some of the shaping of a well-tapered sleeve, but for a chunky warm sweater or a thick hoodie it wouldn't be too much difference. And if you've got a hand knit piece you can always have a crafty friend make some coordinating inside patches out of inexpensive yarn so things stay soft and cozy but you've got an extra layer of thickness.
posted by Mizu at 5:08 PM on December 24, 2017 [2 favorites]

What you're looking for is a reweaving service. The repairs done to sweaters are called reknitting. It's generally pricey because it's extremely painstaking work.
posted by jocelmeow at 8:56 AM on December 25, 2017

What you're looking for is a reweaving service.

Aka French weaving. When done right, it is truly invisible, but also I agree with earlier commenters that darning in knit fabrics is often acceptably unobtrusive, especially for a spot like that. I started darning my sweaters by hand last winter, and even with my decidedly inexpert technique, I've got one with a repair right on the chest that I wear with no worries about it being noticed. It isn't invisible, but if anyone is leaning in close enough to my personal space to see it, I've probably got a bigger issue with them than their opinion on my clothing.
posted by solotoro at 10:39 AM on December 26, 2017

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