How to do a turned-under edge on a homemade patch or applique


I’m stuck at home with an eye infection today, and since my day was already ruined I figured it was a perfect time to do boring mending. And while I’m at it, I thought I’d share the technique I used.

Lately my usual method of patching is to serge around the edge of the patch, cut a piece of fusible web the same size as the patch, steam it in place, and stitch around the edge. But since I was using a medium-weight piece of denim for the patch this time, I used a different technique, as well as some general patching ideas:

The easiest way to measure the size of your patch is to lay a clear ruler over the area to be mended. I make my patches wider and longer than the hole I’m covering, to prevent future holes. I also patch both knees even if only one has a hole, because if I don’t I’ll just end up patching the other leg the next week.

The cheapest way to buy fusible web is by the yard from a fabric store–most fabric stores keep it near the cutting table. They have different weights. I think I usually use a medium weight.

When I’ve cut off my kids jeans to make shorts, I always save the cut-off pieces to use for patching later. I do the same thing if a pair of jeans wears out enough to be thrown away–I salvage any unworn pieces before I throw the rest away. I can usually find a matching piece to use for a patch–although occasionally I’ve also used new denim from my fabric stash.

Since I was using a medium-weight fabric for the patch today, I used an applique technique to turn the edges of the patch under. This technique wouldn’t work well with heavy denim since the seam allowances would add too much bulk, so for heavier patches I still prefer to serge the edges. For this method, I cut a piece of fusible webbing the same size as the patch. Then I sewed it to the patch with a 1/4″ seam, right sides together. I trimmed the corners. Then I cut a slit in the webbing, and turned the patch right-side-out through the slit. This will leave the seam allowances enclosed.

Then I placed the patch web-side-down on the jeans and used an iron to heat the web and apply the patch.

I also always stitch around the edge of the patch because fusible can come undone in a hot dryer. My Bernina 1630 has directional stitching, so I use that feature to stitch around the patch. If you don’t have that feature, you can use a darning/free-motion quilting foot and lower the feed dogs on your machine (enabling you to sew in any direction) OR you can open up part of a side seam on the jeans leg. If you open up a seam, usually one side seam won’t be topstitched, so that one will be much easier to open than the topstitched side.


Henry likes the new patches, and I can’t say I exactly had fun, but at least I had the satisfaction of a job well-done.

Here’s a bonus photo: This is the outfit Hazel wore to the hardware store with Dean today. I took the photo after they got home, when she was tired and a little the worse for wear–but you can still get an idea of how stylish she was.


This entry was posted in My kids actually are funny (and sweet and wonderful), Sewing, Tutorial and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to How to do a turned-under edge on a homemade patch or applique

  1. Aunt Ginger says:

    SuperHazel just doesn’t quite do it, Dean. How about TheAmazinglyMagicalSuperTerrificicalWonderfullyWonderfulHazel!

    • Yes! And even Super-Califragilisticexpialidocious-Hazel…
      Z, these patches are the most patrician and perfectly planned I have ever seen. And once again, your procedure is so precisely plotted that people will promptly pick the ‘puter path to them. Was the sewing right sides together and then turning of the fusible webbing and fabric your own idea? Because honestly, I think it displays downright genius and ingenuity.

      • zstitches says:

        I’ll have to go look up patrician in the dictionary. 🙂

        I learned similar techniques to this one elsewhere–for example, there’s a cool technique in which you sew a piece of scrap fabric to a patch pocket using water-soluble thread. Then you turn, press, and then dissolve the thread to remove the scrap fabric and leave your patch pocket with perfectly pressed turned-under edges. (Those four Ps in a row weren’t even on purpose.) But the technique with the fusible might be my invention.

        Thanks to Pinterest, these days my circle skirt tutorial is getting a lot of traffic, even as many as 70 views a day. This is very satisfying–it’s so nice, after making the effort to share something, to have it be useful to a stranger.

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