I was thinking the other day that I don’t think I have ever worn out the knees of a single pair of pants I’ve owned. When I was younger, holes in your jeans was a thing (I’m looking at you, Joey Lawrence). My mom was not about to buy me the kind that came pre-ripped, and the knees were just never an area I seemed to wear out. That said, in the three short years my child has been on the planet (only two of those walking, mind you), I can’t count the number of pants he’s worn the knees out on. It’s amazing how hard he is on his pants, and between the climbing onto counters, impromptu break dance parties and sidewalk trips that happen on a daily basis, it’s no wonder.Over the weekend I decided to tackle two pairs of Henry’s pants that had recently developed holes in the knees. One thing about the damage he does to his clothes, till now he’s generally grown too fast to make it worthwhile to fix them– by the time he’s worn them through, he’s just about on to the next size anyway. But of the two pants that had been the latest casualties, both still fit relatively well and one of them I’ve formed a bit of an attachment to.
Last winter I bought Henry what at the time was a ridiculously long pair of 2T cords in my favorite mustard yellow. They were one of the first items of clothing he could talk about specifically (“I wear my yellow pant, Mama?”) and he’s worn them weekly or more for over a year. He loves them, I love them, so when the knew split last week I decided to try to see what could be done to save them.
When I was a kid, I remember my mom patching my pants with the stiff patch kits they sell at the grocery store. They came in a stock of four or five rounded plasticy rectangles in colors that were supposed to inconspicuous against your pants but never quite were. I remember they always felt sticky and stiff, and after being fixed the pants were never really the same.
There are plenty of tutorials on Pinterest on mending pants, and one that caught my eye recently was a Japanese sashiko technique. Instead of trying to hide the repair, sashiko embroidery is meant to be both functional and interesting, embracing the mended portion as something that can add to the garment instead of trying to hide it.
I tried my hand on Henry’s two pant legs, adding stitching little crosses to the knees, reinforced by a layer of felt underneath (I’m all about the felt, no surprise). Overall it was a little tough to get the stitches started, and extra difficult because the legs of the pants are so narrow, but once it got going the sewing went quickly. And the results are pretty substantial as far as patches go, but still flexible enough for Henry to wear without much trouble, I think.
We’ll see how they hold up over the long run. And if it goes well, there are plenty of other pants on the verge of losing their knees to perfect the technique soon enough.