Repairing a ripped seam on a nylon backpack?
December 22, 2018 5:11 AM   Subscribe

I have a nylon daypack that has a 3" (and slowly growing) rip along one of the seams. The nylon fabric is textured and not "smooth". What's the best DIY repair answer for this?

A bit more context: the seam itself is somewhat "load bearing" (i.e. when the bag is full, there's definitely some tension on that seam, which is probably how it ripped int the first place), and I am not concerned about waterproofing.

Doing my own research most of the results I find on nylon repair involve flat surfaces and patches/tape (e.g. holes in a tent surface) -- in this case, I'm thinking some kind of seam tape, but I am not sure how well that will hold given the texture of the fabric. Would appreciate specific product brand/repair technique recommendations!
posted by kanuck to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Is there a reason that you can't or don't want to re-sew the seam?
posted by telegraph at 5:54 AM on December 22, 2018 [2 favorites]

I have repaired a load-bearing seam in a tent by hand-sewing the fabric together and then spreading SeamGrip over the stitches. It has held up very well.
posted by Too-Ticky at 6:45 AM on December 22, 2018 [2 favorites]

Yep, you can augment with tape or glue products for nylon, but the only way to fix it is to sew. Since it’s probably only a few inches it shouldn’t take that long, and even if you’ve never seen before you can make a functional seam, if not a pretty one. All you need is a heavy needle and thread and thimble, maybe a few minutes on YouTube.
posted by SaltySalticid at 7:09 AM on December 22, 2018

It's hard to put an adhesive patch over a seam. You need to sew this.

Apologies if I'm talking down to you; you sound like you haven't sewn before.

When you sew two panels together, they start out bigger than they appear on the outside, because the seam is not exactly at the edge of the fabric. The extra material between the seam and the edge of the fabric is called the seam allowance. It usually gets tucked away inside the bag somehow.

If the stitching of the seam has come loose, but the fabric is not torn and the seam allowance is intact, you're in luck. Just sew up the seam again. Hand sewing is fine. Look up a lock stitch, also called a back stitch.

If the fabric has torn along the line of the seam, it'll be more complicated and depends on how much of the fabric you've lost. In order of increasingly good results and increasingly complicated work, your options are,

1. Pull the existing fabric in to create the new seam allowance. You'll get a pucker, which is both unsightly and concentrates the stress of the bulging bag on that one spot. But often good enough.

2. Sew a patch onto the edge of the torn panel to restore it to its original dimensions, then re-sew the seam.

Don't forget to finish all your edges, so that the raw edges don't unravel. With hand sewing, you can either whip-stitch or (better) make a rolled hem.

I realize I'm using a bunch of unfamiliar terms, but lots of people on the internet have explained these terms better than I could, and the underlying ideas are pretty simple. I'm a complete ignoramus, in the grand scheme of sewing skill, and I can do this. You can too!
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 10:08 AM on December 22, 2018

I bet Sugru would work. They show people using it on shoes and say it sticks to anything. I've only used it to repair my phone charger but, having used it, it feels like it would work on your backpack. You can mush different colors together to make it blend in better too
posted by BoscosMom at 11:56 AM on December 22, 2018

Duh, I'm not sure why but somehow I assumed it was not doable to stitch it myself ( have done a bit of sewing before, just not with this kind of thick nylon material). I'll just do that and maybe back up the stitch with some tap/sealant. Thanks all, especially meaty shoe puppet for the detailed instructions (in fact the tear is along the seam line and I expect I will just pull the existing material in and live with the pucker).
posted by kanuck at 8:09 PM on December 23, 2018

Glad to help. I've given this a fair amount of thought because I have a similar repair waiting on my sewing table.

A further thought:

On mine, the original seams were finished by binding the raw edges in bias tape. So I can rip the seam open an inch or two further in each direction, trim away the torn bit, put the new raw edge into the tape, and sew it all up again. Better than a whipstitch, easier (and more fabric-sparing) than a rolled hem.

Good luck!
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 8:43 PM on December 23, 2018

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