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Essential Sewing Stitches to Fix Your Gear

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Don’t let small rips or tears stop you from getting a long life out of your outdoor apparel. Gear editor Maren Larsen shows how to do four common repairs with just a needle and thread. 

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Video Transcript

MAREN: Hi. This is Maren from the Outside Gear team. And today, I'm going to show you four different types of common sewing repairs for your gear. 

So today, I'm going to show you how to do four different types of repairs-- a stretchy seam repair, a hidden seam repair, a rip or tear, and a hole in a sock. And you're going to need a needle and thread and scissors, which are all things you might find in your first aid kit if you're out in the wilderness. 

So the first repair I'm going to show you how to do is a stretchy seam repair. And this is something you're going to want to use in a material that has stretch, and in a place where you don't really mind if the stitches show. So for this stretchy seam repair, you're going to want to make sure that your edges of your seam where the hole is are lined up. And you'll have your knot tied in the end of your thread. 

And so you'll start just towards where the stitches still are in the garment, so a little bit away from the rip. So my rip starts right here. And we're going to start stitches just about maybe half a centimeter back from that. And then start sewing. 

So you want to have just a little bit of a allowance from your actual seam. So here, I have maybe a quarter centimeter or so. Pull all the way through. Make sure that your knot's going to hold. And then we're going to just keep sewing on that side of the fabric. This is called a whip stitch. 

And remember, it doesn't have to be pretty. It just has to hold. So now that I've done a couple stitches, you can see that the same is still going to stretch once the stitches are done. 

And like with the beginning of the stitch, you're going to want to go just past where the rip ends so that you can make sure it doesn't start back up again. And then once you've reached the end of your seam-- I'll show you how to tie a knot right next to the fabric. 

So you're going to cross your needle over your thread. Loop your thread around once. And pull it tight so that the needle's on top of the fabric. And then put your finger over it, and push the needle through. And then as you pull, it'll make a knot right next to the fabric so there's no give. But because of the stitch, it'll still stretch. 

So next, I'm going to show you how to repair a rip or tear that's not on a seam in the middle of a garment. So here, I've decided to use a single strand of thread rather than a double strand of thread to make this repair a little bit more delicate since it's going to be in the middle of the garment. One quick tip is that you can start your stitch from the inside of the tear so that your thread isn't left hanging on the outside. So here, I'm going to go inside the fabric right past the tear. And then the end of my thread just slips through the fabric there. 

OK. So we're going to do a zigzag stitch here. So we're starting on just below the rip. We're going to go to just above the rip. And then cross back to just below it, like that. And pull through. And here, you don't want to hold too tight because if you pull too tight, it'll bunch the fabric up. But if you leave the thread kind of loose, it'll still close the rip without not allowing it to stretch. So we're just going to keep doing that. 


All right. So then, you'll adjust your stitches at the end to make sure that there's enough play in the threads so that it doesn't bunch up too much. And finish it off just past where the rip ends. And then if you could access the backside of the fabric, you should tie it off on the backside. But here, we can only access the front since there's a liner on the inside. So we'll just tie it off on the front. 

Same thing. You're going to put your needle across your thread. Wrap around once. Hold it flat against the surface of the fabric. And then pull your needle through to make a knot. Tada. 

Next, I'm going to show you how to fix those holes that ruined your favorite pair of socks. This stitch needs to be stretchy to accommodate for the stretch of the sock, and low profile enough so that it doesn't bug you while you're wearing them. For this repair, we're going to use a single strand of thread so that the stitches don't bother you when you're wearing the sock. 

So first thing's first, you're going to want to turn your sock inside out. For this repair, you're going to want to keep your stitches as small as possible so that they don't bother you. You'll start just past where the hole begins. And you probably want to go with the grain of the sock. So here, the grain is sort of like this. 

And that's kind of how it wants to go together. So we're going to sew it in that direction. Start with a little tiny stitch. And now, you're going to want to start pulling one side of the hole towards the other side. So you want to keep it as small as possible. 


And since there's not a seam to follow here, you just want to make sure that you're pulling equal amounts of fabric each time so that you don't end up with an excess of fabric on one side at the very end of the tear. And go just one or two stitches beyond the end of the tear. Make sure it's all pulled nice and tight. 

And see, you can just barely see those stitches. And they'll lay flat against your foot when you're wearing the sock. We're going to do one of those fancy knots. 


So here, we're going to repair a non-stretchy seam where we don't want the stitches to show. And we're going to start this stitch from the inside of the fabric, like we did before. And then for this one, you want to make extra sure that your seams are straight, and that there fold over just exactly the way you want them to be. 

And then you're going to go just across the seam from where the thread came out. You're going to put your thread in. And then along the seam line, you're going to thread it through like that. And then you're going to do another one of those little jumps over to the other side, and then up along the seam. You can see, the stitches don't show. So same deal, exactly across the seam. And straight. And then pull tight. 


And it helps if you kind of hold the seam together because then you know where you need to thread the needle through the fold. 


And as you can see, the stitches are totally invisible. And then to finish out the stitch, since I can't get into the fabric, I'm going to make it a really sturdy end. And you'll just basically double back over the stitches a couple times. And then tie it off. And so the repair goes all the way across here, but you can only see the stitches at the very beginning and the very end. 


Hopefully, these stitches will help you keep your gear around and in use a little bit longer. Thanks for watching, and see you next time. Next, I'm going to show you how to fix [LAUGHS]. Next, I'm going to show you how to fix [LAUGHS]. 

CREW: I'm so glad I didn't want to play basketball. Because I-- 

MAREN: You're garbage.