Ripped Jeans Rip Too Much? Here’s How To Fix Them

ripped denim jeans

Caring For Ripped Jeans

Ripped or distressed jeans have been a fashion statement for decades. Many people enjoy having at least one pair in their wardrobe selection, so it’s important to know how to care for them properly and repair them when necessary.

Preventative Measures

It is almost impossible to keep distressed jeans from continuing to fray and come apart. But there are a number of ways to slow or arrest the process.

Wash and dry distressed jeans carefully. Remember it’s not necessary to wash jeans after each wearing. Hand washing may seem ideal, but don’t wring out the wet pants, as the added stress can cause more tearing.

Machine wash on a gentle, cold water cycle and allow the jeans to air dry. A lingerie bag can also help keep ripped jeans from getting hung up on washing machine parts or other laundry.

Take ripped jeans on and off carefully. Probably the number one way distressed jeans become damaged is by a foot going through the ripped areas. So it takes a bit of mindfulness and patience to prevent this type of damage.

Pay attention to your surroundings. When wearing ripped jeans, remember that they can become easily snagged on furniture or other obstacles of the right height. 

Related: How To Permanently Shrink Denim Jeans For a Perfect Fit

repairing ripped denim jeans

How To Fix Ripped Jeans

Iron-on patches

Iron-on patches are easy to use and can be invisible from the right side of the fabric. These patches are available in varying sizes and shades of denim. Iron-on patches are not recommended on the right side of the inner thigh area, as they can rub and catch on the adjacent leg and be damaged.

As a preventative measure, turn the jeans wrong-side out and iron a narrow patch along each side of the ripped area. If the jeans develop an unwanted tear, the hole can be repaired by trimming the area and covering it entirely on the right side with an iron-on patch. 

When covering a larger area, a thin fabric barrier will be needed between the patch and the opposite side of the jeans to keep the patch from adhering the jeans’ legs together. Also, ensure the patch is at least ½-inch larger than the hole on all sides. 

Follow patch directions for iron temperature settings. Most denim jeans are 100% cotton, but check the garment tags for variations and adjust the iron temperature accordingly. Let the patch cool completely before wearing the jeans. 

Fabric Glue

Areas of distressed denim can also be stabilized with fabric glue. Turn the garment wrong side out and run a thin line of glue around the frayed edges. Avoid excessive glue; it may seep through and leave a discolored line. 

Fabric glue often does not last as long as ironed or sewn patches. You’ll need to monitor glued areas for further deterioration closely.

Edge Stitching

Edge stitching may be done by hand or machine. A straight embroidery stitch using matching thread is enough to slow raveling for some time. A zigzag machine stitch works equally well. 

Matching thread will be almost invisible as a simple edging, but there is also the option of using a contrasting color and a more decorative machine stitch to reinforce distressed patches.


Several hand embroidery stitches can be used to create a simple line design around distressed areas or completely cover unwanted small holes in jeans. A straight or chain stitch can be used, or use your choice of stitches and colors to add a more eye-catching design to reflect your personal style.

The one drawback to adding bold colors to jeans is that they may not match other clothing as universally afterward. Keep this in mind when considering any colorful embellishments that cannot be easily removed.


Fusible interfacing is another invisible option to prevent rips from interfering with seams or the inner thigh area. Interfacing can be more lightweight than iron-on patches with the same effect. 

Follow the interfacing directions and iron around the edges of the ripped section on the wrong side. It’s a good idea to add this reinforcement early, long before excessive fraying becomes an issue. If possible, use at least an inch of light- to medium-weight fusible interfacing around distressed areas to extend the life of the garment.

Matching denim

When jeans fade and become unwearable, it’s a good idea to cut away any remaining usable fabric for future jean repairs or reinforcement. You may also be able to find varying shades of blue denim at your local fabric store.

Cut your patch at least ½-inch larger than the area to be patched. Serge or zigzag stitch the edges of the denim patch to keep it from fraying. 

On the wrong side, pin the fabric patch and sew around the edge with at least one line of zigzag stitching. The patch can be placed behind an entire distressed area, making the jeans warmer in the winter and less prone to snagging your foot when taken on and off.

Leave the loose threads across the area to maintain the ripped style. Or, if you’re repairing an unwanted hole, trim away all fraying threads and zigzag along the edge to prevent new fraying.

If you don’t own a sewing machine, the fabric patch can be sewn by hand, or you can use fabric glue. However, two layers of denim fabric may be too heavy for fabric glue to hold together in the long run.

Contrasting fabric

It has become popular for some to wear contrasting leggings beneath distressed jeans for color, warmth, and a bit more modesty. In the same way, contrasting fabric can be used instead of denim to patch or reinforce ripped areas. 

As with a sewn denim patch, cut contrasting fabric at least ½-inch larger than the area to be backed. Serge or zigzag the edges of fabric with a tendency to fray. After pinning, hand or machine sew the patch in place. 

Leave loose threads over the patch for the frayed look, or trim them away to allow more of the contrasting fabric to show through. Remember, by adding a contrasting color, you may be limiting the number of garments that can be easily matched with the jeans. 

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