You know that sinking feeling in your stomach when you step into the restroom at work, look in the mirror, and discover a hole right in the middle of your shirt? You can avoid that feeling if you know how to quickly repair your clothes. Fortunately, learning how to fix a hole in a shirt is easy, and anyone can do it!
The most professional way to fix a hole in a shirt is to darn the hole with loops of thread to close it. No-sew methods to fix a shirt hole include fabric glue, fusible web, or an iron-on patch. Creative ways to fix a hole in a shirt range from embroidering a design over the hole to adding an appliqued patch or even crocheting inside the hole.
In this article, you will learn what makes holes in shirts and how to avoid this when possible. You will discover ten methods to fix a hole in a shirt. Finally, you will find tips on how to fix special holes in your shirts.
- What Makes Holes in Shirts?
- How Do You Repair a Hole in Fabric?
- How to Fix a Hole in a Shirt: 10 Methods
- Creative Ways to Hide or Fix a Hole in Your Shirt
- Can Fabric Glue Fix Holes?
- How to Fix a Hole in a Shirt Collar
- How to Prevent Tiny T-Shirt Holes
- How to Fix:
- What is the Best Way to Fix a Hole in a Shirt?
What Makes Holes in Shirts?
Tension, friction, and poor fabric construction can make holes in your shirts, but the most common cause is friction.
If you often find small holes in your t-shirts around the waistline, you will know all about this. These holes come from the regular friction of your waistband and belt constantly rubbing on the surface of the shirt.
While the friction caused by frequent wear can cause holes in shirts, the friction in your washing machine may prove even more dangerous. The machine cleans your clothing by tumbling it around in a bucket of water.
All the clothes scrape over each other again and again, which does help get them clean but also grates across the tiny fibers in the shirt fabric. When enough fibers snap or break free, you will have a weakened patch in the shirt that can easily turn into a hole.
Of course, some holes in your shirt happen because a stress point in the garment received too much tension. This happens a lot at the armholes or side seams. Most of these holes happen because you need to move more than the shape of the shirt could easily allow.
Poor-quality fabric will also develop holes much more quickly than high-end fabric. You see this a lot in t-shirts–cheap cotton shirts use fabric made with short cotton fibers that wear down quickly. Pricey shirts use long staple cotton that is more durable and won’t develop fraction holes quickly.
Finally, accidents can happen too, of course!
Maybe you caught your shirt on a nail in the garage wall and it ripped across the back. Or you leaned forward to blow out a birthday cake and burned a hole in the front of your favorite dress shirt. Or maybe you forgot to check the care label inside your shirt and melted a hole when you tried to iron it.
No matter the cause, you probably wonder if you can fix the hole in your shirt and if it is worth the effort.
How Do You Repair a Hole in Fabric?
The best way to repair a hole in the fabric is to match your repair method to the type of hole, such as using a straight stitch for a long tear or applying fusible interfacing to the inside of a small pinhead hole.
- For long tears or rips in the fabric, try darning by hand or using a sewing machine. For rips in the seams of a shirt, a sewing machine will give you a sturdier repair than stitching by hand.
- For small holes like the kind you get in t-shirts, try using the fusible webbing method or the fabric glue method.
- For big holes like a spot melted by ironing, you will need to add a patch. You can make this less visible or get creative and apply a decorative patch.
- If you want to upcycle your damaged shirt, you can fix holes creatively, like adding sashiko stitching to hold a patch in place or embroidering a design to conceal the opening.
While you can fix any hole in your shirt, you want to ask yourself if it is worth the effort.
First, do you care if the repair shows? Some repair methods leave you with an invisible fix, like good-quality darning or the fabric glue trick used on small pinhead holes in tees. But others, like applying a patch, will leave visible results.
Second, how much do you care about the shirt? If you bought the shirt for five bucks in a Walmart clearance bin, you may want to recycle it to the rag bag or find another purpose. But if you bought the t-shirt on your honeymoon and it has sentimental value, you should invest a few minutes in a quick repair!
How to Fix a Hole in a Shirt: 10 Methods
You can fix a hole in your shirt in ten different ways, including sewing by hand, using no-sew techniques like applying fabric glue, or adding patches.
1. Darning by Hand
Darning by hand uses a special sewing technique of adding new threads to fill a hole in a fabric. If you use thread that closely matches the original color of the cloth, you can make almost-invisible repairs with this technique!
- Select a fine thread and a narrow, sharp needle.
- Turn the shirt inside out, as you want to make all your darning stitches from the back side of the fabric.
- If the hole has raggedy edges or loose threads hanging off, trim it neatly, though you do not want to make it bigger.
- Make small running stitches half an inch inside the edge, all the way around. This gives you a line to stitch toward in the next step and stabilizes the raw edge as you work.
- Next, make long stitches across the opening, working in the same direction as the long grain of the fabric. Start each stitch with the outline you made in the previous step. Also, try to space each long stitch apart by counting two threads in the weave of the original fabric between each stitch.
- Put your long stitches quite close together, but do not pull them tight–you will essentially replace the missing fabric in the hole, so you do not want to pull the open space shut. That will just end up creating a pucker in your shirt.
- Next, you will weave the thread over and under the long stitches you made, working in the opposite direction, perpendicular to those stitches.
- When you finish weaving, the hole will look like it is filled in with a new section of cloth.
The best way to fix a big hole in a shirt is to sew a patch beneath it. You can also use iron-on patches to cover a hole, as you will see later in this article, but that method has more visible results.
To sew in a patch:
- Start by tidying up the edge of the opening. Snip away loose or frayed threads and create a clean line around the inside edge of the opening.
- If possible, find a scrap of fabric that exactly matches your shirt. Cut it down to a size about an inch bigger than the shape of the hole.
- Turn the shirt inside out and pin the patch over the hole, making sure it completely covers the opening.
- Thread a needle with thread that exactly matches your shirt, and use a tailor’s backtrack stitch to start instead of tying a knot.
- Use small, evenly spaced straight stitches around the edge of the hole to attach the patch.
- Finish with another tailor’s back tack to hold the thread.
3. Without Sewing
The quickest way to fix a hole in a shirt is to try a no-sew technique like using fabric glue. This method does not always last as long as a sewing technique, but it takes less time, less skill, and fewer supplies. Basically, try this for a quick fix!
Fabric glue can work well to seal up tiny holes in many types of cloth like cotton, jersey knit, and denim.
- Place a piece of cardboard inside the shirt to avoid getting glue anywhere you don’t want it to go.
- Apply a thin line of fabric glue exactly on the edge of the hole, all the way around.
- Use your fingers to gently ease the edges of the opening together. Do not overlap the fabric edges on top of each other–you just want the raw edges to touch each other and bond back together as the glue dries.
- Once the glue feels most dry, gently turn the shirt inside out.
- Reinsert the cardboard in the middle.
- Dab a more generous layer of fabric glue over the hole and about half an inch around it on all sides.
- Let that glue dry entirely. This glue blob on the inside of the shirt will remain a little stiff but should not show from the outside.
- Check the front of the shirt to see if you fixed it!
4. Heating Fusible Web
You can also use heat and a strip of fusible web to quickly fix holes or tears in your shirts. This method works on tiny holes and larger tears, though bigger holes will likely leave some evidence of the repair after you finish.
As an important safety note, make sure you check the care label inside your shirt to see if you can iron your shirt before you try this method. If the label has a picture of iron with an “X” over it, you should not apply high heat to the shirt.
- Cut out a piece of the fusible web at least ¼” larger than the opening.
- Turn the shirt inside out and arrange it on an ironing board with the hole visible.
- Iron this section of the shirt to take out wrinkles.
- Lightly spritz it with water from a clean spray bottle to prepare it for the next step.
- Gently close the hole as much as possible with your fingers, and then lay the fusible web over the top of the sealed edges.
- Cut out a piece of plain interfacing and place that on top of the fusible web. The webbing needs something to stick to on both sides.
- Now spread a pressing cloth or thin dish towel over the whole thing, and press down on it with your iron for 30 seconds.
- Gently remove the pressing cloth.
- Let the fusible web and interfacing cool, and then tug lightly to make sure they adhere to the shirt fabric.
5. Iron-On Patch
Another quick way to hide a hole in a shirt is to add a decorative iron-on patch. You can find patches in any design you like, from superhero logos to anime characters to funny sayings. The patches have an embroidered face and a sticky backing that will permanently adhere to your shirt once you heat the adhesive.
Of course, this method will leave a pretty obvious result, so it may work better on denim shirts than on a dress shirt you want to wear to work!
Also, check the care label on your shirt to see if it can handle ironing before you attempt this. Alternatively, you can do a heat test on a hidden section of the shirt to make sure the iron does not melt or scorch the fabric before you start.
- Turn your iron to medium heat and let it warm up.
- Meanwhile, smooth your shirt on the ironing board with the hole in the center.
- Lightly press the shirt around the gap to remove any wrinkles.
- Align the patch over the hole. It needs to cover all the edges of the opening and make sure it faces in the direction you want. You don’t want to end up with an upside-down patch!
- Cover the patch with a pressing cloth.
- Set the iron on top of the patch and press down for 45 seconds for a small patch or one minute for a larger patch.
- Set the iron aside and let the patch cool down.
- Gently tug on the patch’s edge to ensure it adhered fully.
Applique adds a decorative patch to the surface of the fabric by using fancy stitching around the edge of the patch. You can use this method to add fun shapes of contrasting fabric like a heart, flower, peace sign, or anything you want! Of course, you only want to do this if you don’t mind having an attention-catching patch on your shirt.
- Trace the design you want onto the applique fabric. Cut out the outline.
- Lay the design on top of a piece of fusible web and cut that out in the same shape.
- Next, layer the fusible web and the applique on top of the hole.
- Put a pressing cloth overtop and iron over this for thirty seconds.
- Finally, use a blanket stitch to secure the edges of the applique. This keeps the raw edge of the fabric from fraying and holds down the shape onto your shirt.
The most creative and whimsical method to fix a hole in a shirt is to embroider over and around the opening. This method takes some practice but gives you the most fun results!
You can use pretty much any style of embroidery or type of design you like. For instance, you could sew leaves and flowers, stitch puppies or kittens, or use simple geometric shapes.
These steps show you how to place a simple satin-stitch heart over a hole:
- First, check out the size of the hole. For pinholes in a shirt, you can skip the next step and go straight to the embroidery. For large openings, you will want to add a darning technique first.
- For large holes, use the darning method described earlier in this article to weave threads over the opening. You can use the same color of thread that you will use for the heart, though!
- Next, outline a heart that encloses the hole.
- Use a backstitch to stitch around the outline you drew.
- Next, make five large stitches. Make the first stitch from the point of the heart straight up to the V at the top, starting and stopping just outside your outline stitches. Then make two stitches evenly spaced between that center stitch and the side of the heart, from the top of the outline to the bottom.
- Keep making long parallel stitches, using the original five stitches to ensure your satin stitches remain straight. Place each stitch exactly next to the previous stitch to fill the entire space with embroidery thread.
- When you have the whole heart filled in, flip to the inside of the shirt to tie off your thread.
Sashiko is a type of visible mending using traditional Japanese stitching. This takes a little time but gives you a really beautiful repair!
- Start by cutting either a matching patch or a piece of interfacing and using safety pins to attach it to the inside of the shirt, behind the hole.
- Next, thread a sashiko needle or a long, sharp embroidery needle with a piece of embroidery floss. You will want to use four to six strands of the thread so that it shows up well. Tie a knot at the end of the thread.
- Starting from the inside of the shirt, bring the needle up and make a running stitch across the distance of the patch. To do this, bring the needle only partway out of the fabric, and pick up a small section of the cloth. Gather three or four stitches onto the needle at once, then pull it up to make all five stitches in one go.
- As you stitch, make sure the stitches on top of the fabric are slightly longer than the stitches on the inside of the fabric.
- Sew a straight line of running stitches all the way across the patch, then stitch back in the opposite direction to form a parallel line of stitches going back the other way. Keep making parallel lines until you form a square out of the parallel lines of stitches.
- For the simplest Sashiko design, you can stop there! You could also go back and turn every stitch into a cross by adding running stitches perpendicular to your original lines if you want to get fancy.
Boro means the Japanese tradition of patching and mending items instead of throwing them away. This method refers more to the colors and type of fabric used than to a particular kind of stitching, as Sashiko does.
Traditionally, you use a white thread and a darker color of patch for this method. But today, people often use lots of fun colors and fabric patterns for the visible patches.
- Cut out a square or triangular patch from your fun patching fabric. Use an iron to turn under the edges ¼” around the shape.
- Set the patch over the hole and use sewing pins to hold it in place.
- To sew the patch in place, you can use any kind of stitching you want! Add scattered stitches all over the entire patch, or stitch a spiral of backstitches. You do want to make sure you get enough stitches close to the edge of the patch to hold it in place. You can even sew a whip stitch around the edge if you want to.
- Alternatively, you can go less traditional and use a sewing machine to stitch back and forth across the whole patch multiple times.
10. Sewing Machine
The best way to fix a ripped seam in your shirt is to use a sewing machine or serger. This will more securely close up a hole that will probably continue to put a lot of stress on it.
- Turn your shirt inside out.
- Align the edges of the torn seam together and use sewing pins to hold them in place.
- Sew a straight stitch inside the raw edge, closing the gap between the original stitching.
- Use a zigzag stitch to seal up the raw edge in this spot.
- Or use a serger to sew and seal the edge in one step.
Creative Ways to Hide or Fix a Hole in Your ShirtYou can find many creative ways to hide a hole in a shirt, including adding a special sticker or using crochet.
- Of course, you can use fancy creative methods like embroidery or applique, as you saw in the previous section.
- You can also use silicon stickers or sticky ribbons like this blingy version to cover a hole. This whimsical touch lets you add whatever style you want!
- For a elaborate repair, you can even crochet inside the hole! This fills in the open space with a lovely lacey pattern.
Can Fabric Glue Fix Holes?
Fabric glue can temporarily fix holes in a garment. It works well on tiny pinprick holes. You can also use it to attach a patch to the inside of a garment, but this fix will not look as precise as stitching a patch into place.
Also, fabric glue has a strong hold but may not remain permanent when you wash the garment in your washing machine.
How to Fix a Hole in a Shirt Collar
The best way to fix small holes at the back of a shirt collar is to use the darning method described earlier in this article.
When you wear a collared shirt often, the friction from moving your head during the day can wear away at the back side of the collar. But you can easily fill in and strengthen this section by adding a small darning patch and weaving new threads within the gap.
How to Prevent Tiny T-Shirt Holes
You can prolong the life of your t-shirts by learning how to prevent tiny t-shirt holes.
- First, wash your tees in small loads using a gentle wash cycle. This will eliminate much of the friction put on the fabric during laundering.
- Second, try out a button cover like this one to prevent most of the common waistband holes in your tees.
- Finally, wear an apron when you need to work somewhere you will lean against a counter, desk, or stove.
How to Fix:
Find out at a glance how to fix whatever type of hole you have in your shirt!
A Big Ripped Hole in Shirt
You can fix a big ripped hole in a shirt by using a sewing machine. You can also add a patch with stabilizing interfacing to the inside of the shirt and use hand sewing to stitch it securely in place.
A Medium Hole in Shirt
You can easily fix medium-sized holes in a shirt using decorative methods like applique or invisible methods like patching from the inside. You can also darn some medium-sized tears, though this may have some visibility on the surface.
A Small Hole in Knit T-Shirt
The easiest way to fix a small hole in a knit t-shirt is to use fabric glue. You can also use an iron to apply a tiny circle of fusible webbing behind the opening to seal it shut.
T-Shirt Hole Repair Kit
You can get a small sewing kit to keep on hand for repairing t-shirt holes or invest in a small set of fusible patches. But a small tube of fabric glue may give you the easiest and cheapest fix for most t-shirt holes.
Hole in Men’s Dress Shirt
The best way to fix a hole in a men’s dress shirt is to add a patch to the inside if you can find matching cloth and thread. You can also darn a small hole nearly invisibly in a men’s dress shirt if you use the correct thread.
Tear in Shoulder Seam of Shirt
The best way to fix a tear in the shoulder seam of your shirt is to use a sewing machine or serger to reinforce the weakened seam. Plus, none of the new stitches will show from the outside of the shirt!
Hole in Cotton Shirt
You can fix a hole in a cotton shirt using any of the methods in the article, including heat-sensitive ones like adding an iron-on patch. You can also easily dark in most cotton fabrics, adding a more invisible type of repair.
What is the Best Way to Fix a Hole in a Shirt?
The best way to fix a hole in a shirt is darning, which works effectively for many different types of holes. That said, the best method for you also depends on the kind of shirt and your own personal preferences.
- Do you want an invisible mend? Try darning or patching. For jersey knit shirts, you can also try fabric glue or fusible webbing to repair small pinpoint holes.
- Do you want a fun, quirky repair? Try adding an iron-on patch for a no-sew solution or using embroidery for a fancy solution.
- Do you just want the quickest fix possible? In this case, use a sewing machine to seal up the edges of the opening.
You can fix a hole in a shirt by hand using darning stitches or fixing a patch to the inside of the tear. You can use no-sew methods like adding fabric glue or fusible webbing. For the most fun and whimsical ways to fix a hole in your shirt, you can iron on a patch, embroider over the opening, add applique, or even use a traditional Japanese technique like sashiko stitching or boro mending.
For big rips in a shirt, especially in the seams, you should use a sewing machine to make a quick repair. If you need a professional-looking fix, try darning or patching using the same color of cloth for the patch.