Have you ever come home from a great workout at the gym only to discover a hole in your favorite leggings when you go to get into the shower? The soft, comfy fabric of most leggings and yoga pants often develops tiny pinpoint tears or rips at seams. But the good news is that you can learn how to sew a hole in leggings and keep wearing your favorite pair!
The most popular way to sew a hole in leggings is to darn or stitch the hole by hand using a needle and thread. The quickest method is to use fusible interfacing to invisibly mend the hole. Other popular techniques include using fabric glue, nail polish, or a patch to repair the hole in leggings.
In this article, you will learn how to repair damage to the stretchy legging fabric. You will discover seven easy methods for fixing a hole in leggings. Finally, you will find out how to fix holes in special garments like Lululemon leggings.
How Do You Sew a Hole in Stretchy Fabric?
The key to sewing up a hole in a stretchy fabric is to use stitches or patches that can stretch with the fabric.
Most leggings contain knit fabric. This means that the fabric is made out of interlooped threads instead of threads that cross over and under each other as they do in woven fabric types. Knit fabric stretches well because of the looped structure.
Besides their knitted structure, leggings material can also feature special types of material. Some leggings use plain cotton knit, but most athletic legging features synthetic material with a generous proportion of elastic added in. This makes the legging fabric even more stretchy and flexible.
Of course, the stretchiness of your leggings makes them perfect for activities like yoga or running. But trying to sew on fabric that stretches can get tricky.
If the material expands as you form the stitch, your stitch will stretch out across it and seem to lie flat. But if you release the tension on the fabric and it then contracts, the stitch will puff up and become loose because it is no longer stretched across the same distance.
The best way to get around this dilemma is to use stitches designed to work on knit fabric, like a stretch stitch on a sewing machine or a hand-sewn herringbone stitch.
If you have a large hole in your leggings and you need to apply a patch, make sure you use stretchy fabric for the patch, too.
Another thing you should consider is the condition of the fabric near the hole. If you work out in your leggings frequently, you will likely find that the fabric on the inner thighs and crotch seems fuzzy extra soft, or even almost worn through. This happens because of all the friction as you walk or run.
You can fix almost any hole in your leggings, but if the fabric has worn away, you may need to consider replacing them instead.
How to Sew a Hole in Leggings: 7 Methods
Next time you find a small hole or rip in your leggings, try one of these easy methods: darning the hole, using a sewing machine, or applying a patch.
1. By Hand With BallA basic darning technique using a ball works well to close up tiny pinprick holes in your leggings. That said, this does not work on larger holes. You can darn larger holes in fabric that uses a plain weave or twill weave structure, but trying to fill in a large gap in knit fabric will not work because your filler threads won’t stretch the same way as the looped threads in a knit material.
- First, find a round object, like an official darning mushroom or a DIY darning tool like a pool ball.
- Turn the leggings inside out.
- Thread a needle with about 12” of thread that matches your leggings, and tie a knot at the tail.
- Use your non-dominant hand to hold the ball or darning tool behind the hole. You don’t want to stretch out the fabric around the hole too much, but you want the darning mushroom to hold the edges of the opening flat for your needle. You want the ball to fill in all the open space of the hole, so you can fill that space with thread.
- Start by making a tiny stitch to secure the knot in the fabric at the edge of the hole.
- Next, pick up one or two loops of thread beside the hole. Stretch the thread across the tiny hole, and pick up one or two thread loops on the opposite side.
- Continue making these horizontal stitches across the hole until you have covered the hole, top to bottom.
- To finish darning the hole, you will also want to add vertical stitches. You will use the same method of picking up one or two loops of the leggings fabric on each side of the hole, but instead of just making one big vertical stitch across the hole, weave the needle in and out of ht horizontal threads vertically.
- Repeat this weaving stitch until you fill in the tiny hole.
2. By Hand With Patch
If you have a medium or large hole in your leggings, the best way to seal it up is to sew in a patch with a needle and thread.
The most important part of the patching method is picking the right material for the patch. You need to use fabric with the same type of threads and the same construction as your leggings.
If you try to place a plain-weave fabric like a square of cotton on top of spandex leggings, the patch will not stretch and flex like the leggings and will tear free or damage the leggings even further as the two contrasting types of cloth play tug-of-war with each other whenever you move.
Good fabric for a leggings patch:
- Should have a knit construction, like the leggings. You should see tiny loops of thread that look like braids instead of a woven basket inside the cloth.
- It should have the same fabric content as the leggings. You can check this by reading the manufacturer’s tag inside the leggings and the old garment you want to recycle. This will list fabric content such as 100% cotton, cotton and polyester, or polyester and spandex.
- Should match the color and texture of the original leggings as closely as possible. Unless you don’t care about the patch showing, of course!
To hand-sew a patch into your leggings:
- Cut a square patch at least ½” larger than the hole. Use a ruler and a piece of tailor’s chalk to draw two lines, one right on the edge of the patch and one ⅛” inside the outer line, on all the edges of the square. You will use these lines to help form the stitches.
- Turn your leggings inside out and use sewing pins to hold the patch to the back of the hole.
- Thread a ballpoint hand-sewing needle with about 12” of thread. Tie a knot at the tail of the thread.
- Insert the needle from the inside of the leggings, and pull it through so the knot lodges firmly on the inside.
- Now you will make a herringbone stitch around all four sides of the square, using the lines you drew as a guide. A herringbone stitch is like a stretch stitch for hand sewing, providing flexibility and ease of movement with the knit material.
- Make a diagonal stitch from the inside line up to the outer line.
- Backstitch to about ⅛” of an inch behind the first diagonal, and make a cross over it with a second stitch.
- Repeat these diagonal, crossed lines between your two chalk lines around the square.
- Finally, tie off your thread on the inside of the leggings.
3. Sewing Machine
If you have a sewing machine with a stretch stitch, you can use it to sew up a torn seam in your leggings or to attach a patch behind a larger hole.
How do you know if your machine can form a stretch stitch? The most common stitch used for sewing knit fabrics is the triple-straight stitch. It has a symbol that looks like three vertical lines next to each other.
Many sewing machines also feature the “lightning bolt” stitch, a narrow and asymmetrical zigzag, resembling a chain of tiny lightning bolts.
You will also need to set up your sewing machine with either a ballpoint needle or a stretch needle for this project. You probably know that you always use a rounded ballpoint needle for sewing on knitted fabric, as it can ease its way through the looped threads in this material instead of slicing through them as a sharp needle would.
A stretch needle takes this concept even further, with a ballpoint tip and a flat shank, making it ideal for sewing through elastic material.
Once you have your machine prepped for sewing on knit fabric, you can get started!
- Find an old pair of leggings or a t-shirt and cut out a patch from the unwanted garment. Try to use a patched fabric that has the same kind of threads in it as your leggings.
- Pin the patch in place behind the hole.
- Set up your sewing machine with its free arm exposed so you can get inside the leg.
- Next, prep your sewing machine by inserting the appropriate needle and adjusting the settings for a stretch stitch.
- Sew about ¼ of an inch from the edge of the patch all the way around. For a square patch, make sure you stop the needle and pivot neatly at each corner.
You can also use a sewing machine with a stretch stitch to fix a ripped seam in your leggings. But ideally, you will use a serger for this task instead, as it offers additional strength to prevent the seam from tearing again.
If you own a serger, you can easily repair holes in the seams of your leggings. A serger or overlock machine uses braided threads to encase a seam, making it extra secure. Most store-bought clothes have overlocked seams.
Another great reason to use a serger is that the looped threads will stretch with the flexible knit or elastic cloth in your leggings. If you try to sew up a seam using a regular straight stitch on a sewing machine, the threads in the seams will not stretch as much as the fabric and you will end up feeling like you have iron bands cutting into you when those seams touch your body!
- Start by turning your leggings inside out. Locate the hole in the seam (usually somewhere around the crotch).
- Overlap the torn edge by about ¼” on top of the seam.
- Starting two inches below this point, serge right up the seam, re-sewing it.
- Keep going two inches past the hole for extra security.
- Make sure you finish off the tail of your serger threads.
5. Without Hole Showing
For tiny, pinprick holes in your leggings, you can try an emergency invisible fix using nail polish! This method often works to invisibly seal up the edge of tiny holes by gluing the looped threads back together. That said, it can leave rough, uncomfortable patches in your leggings, so apply it with care and try not to use this technique on an area that will rub against your skin a lot, like the inner leg seams.
- Put your arm inside the leggings to place the tip of a finger behind the tiny hole.
- Dab a drop of clear nail polish onto your finger so it gets on the edges of the hole.
- Use your other hand to light pinch shut the edges of the hole. Hold this position for a minute as the nail polish sets.
- Turn the leggings inside out and repeat the process from the other side of the hole.
- Let the nail polish dry for several hours.
- Finally, use a nail file to lightly sand over the nail polish on both sides to remove any sharp edges.
6. Without Sewing
The most common way to fix a hole in leggings without sewing is to use an iron-on patch or a piece of fusible interfacing to attach a patch.
One caveat here is that not all leggings material is safe to iron. If your leggings have a high percentage of elastic in them (like tight athletic leggings or some running leggings), you should never expose them to high heat. Other types of leggings material that contains a lot of rayon or nylon could also melt when ironed.
To find out if you can apply an iron-on patch to your leggings, check the care label inside the garment. If you spot a picture of an iron with an X overtop, you should not iron the leggings!
If you can iron the leggings, this handy method will allow you to quickly repair small or medium holes.
- Cut out a piece of fusible webbing in a square or circle at least half an inch bigger than the hole all the way around.
- Turn the leggings inside out and place a piece of cardboard inside behind the hole.
- Pinch the edge of the hole as close together as you can.
- Apply the fusible webbing shiny-side down on top of the hole.
- Smooth a pressing cloth over the webbing.
- Use your iron to press down on the pressing cloth for about thirty seconds.
- Remove the pressing cloth and gently tug on the webbing to see if it adhered.
- If so, turn the leggings right side out to see if the hole “disappeared” due to the webbing on the inside holding the edges of the hole together.
7. Fabric Glue
If you don’t like the idea of sewing and don’t want to risk using an iron on your leggings, you can use fabric glue to seal up a hole in several ways.
First, you can use fabric glue instead of nail polish to pinch shut tiny pinprick holes in your leggings. It will take longer to dry, but it will have a softer and less shiny finish than nail polish.
Second, you can use fabric glue instead of hand stitching or a sewing machine to hold a patch in place over the hole in your leggings. For this process, simply draw a thin line of glue around the edge of a patch and then let it dry on the leggings according to the instructions on the glue bottle.
One thing to keep in mind when you use any type of glue on your leggings is that you will end up with stiff, crunchy sections on your leggings wherever the glue dries. Also, fabric adhesives have good staying power, but you should read the package to see if the glue can hold up in the wash.
What Stitch is Best to Close a Hole?
The best hand-sewn stitches to close a hole include a darning stitch, a whip stitch, a backstitch, and a herringbone stitch. On a sewing machine, the best stitch to close a hole on knit fabric is a stretch stitch or a “lightning bolt” zigzag stitch.
- A darning stitch uses parallel horizontal and vertical lines over the hole to fill the space. Typically you sew horizontal running stitches across the opening first and then weave your vertical stitch in and out over the horizontal threads in a basketweave structure.
- A whip stitch loops over the edge of a seam or patch, securing it in place. If you do this, you can use a whip stitch to sew tiny holes shut, but you will still see a small pucker from the outside of the leggings. Whipstitch works better to close up a torn seam in your leggings by hand if you do not have a sewing machine.
- A backstitch forms a straight, unbroken line of stitches. You make this stitch by making a small regular straight stitch. Then bring the needle up through the fabric from the reverse side the same distance away. Instead of forming another stitch in the same direction as the original stitch, bring your thread back to meet the end of the first stitch. This study method works well to sew patches onto many types of fabrics to cover holes, but you should not use it on knit legging material as it cannot stretch.
- A herringbone stitch forms the shape of elongated, diagonal crosses in a row. This stitch works great for sewing patches onto stretchy fabric because the X-shaped stitches can flex and move with the cloth.
How to Fix a Hole in:
Now that you know the seven easiest ways to fix a hole in leggings, check out these tips for how to fix a hole in specific kinds of leggings like Lululemon or Gymshark.
The best way to fix a hole in spandex leggings is to use a darning stitch for tiny holes or a serger for larger holes in the seams. If possible, you may also want to use a special thread that contains elastic.
Spandex fabric is made of stretchy elastane fibers to form a material that can expand up to seven times its original size. Many leggings contain at least some spandex, but some athletic leggings feature 100% spandex for a super tight-fitting, stretchy garment.
Do not use iron-on adhesive patches or fusible interfacing with Spandex leggings. Your iron will likely melt or scorch the spandex.
You can use any methods in this article, such as darning, patching, sewing by hand, or using a serger to repair Lululemon leggings. You will need to check the fabric composition of the leggings before you try adding an adhesive patch, though.
That said, the easiest way to get your Lululemon leggings fixed is to let the experts do it–for free! The brand offers a “quality promise” to repair any reasonable damage within five years after you bought the leggings. You can find out how to mail in your leggings for this free repair here.
The best way to fix a hole in Gymshark leggings is to use a patch with a stretchy herringbone hand stitch to hold it in place.
Many Gymshark leggings come in a seamless design that means you don’t have to worry about chafing or seams ripping. This means that the serger and sewing machine methods to fix your leggings often don’t work as well on Gymshark leggings. But hand-sewn patches work great to sturdily repair small holes in the seat or thighs.
Many Gymshark legging styles contain elastane and nylon or recycled polyester, meaning you should avoid the iron-on patch method.
Leggings Inner Thigh
You can fix a hole in your leggings on the inner thigh in several ways, including using a patch or a serger.
The inner thigh and crotch get holes more than any other part of your leggings because these areas endure a ton of friction as you walk or run. The friction wears away at the threads in the fabric, making the material weak. This makes it easy for holes or tears to form.
For tears in the inner thigh or crotch seams, turn the leggings inside out and use a serger to sew the seam shut again. If you do not have a serger, you can use a whip stitch over the raw edge of the seam to seal it shut.
For holes in the fabric near the seam, use a stretchy patch secured using a herringbone stitch or a stretch stitch on your sewing machine.
Best Way to Fix a Hole in Leggings
The best way to fix a hole in your leggings is to sew in a patch because the new fabric will strengthen the leggings and keep the hole from growing. You have to use a patch made from the same type of cloth as the leggings, though, or it will rip away from the leggings and make matters worse later on. It is also important to use a flexible hand stitch or machine stitch to sew on the patch.
Another great way to fix a hole in the seam of your leggings is to use a serger to sew the seam shut again. Serger stitches use looped threads like the knit fabric in your leggings, meaning that new stitching can stretch and flex with your leggings besides adding a secure closure over the torn seam.
If you don’t have a sewing machine and don’t want to learn how to sew a patch by hand, you can also fix a hole without sewing. Use nail polish or fabric glue to pinch shut tiny pinprick holes in your leggings. Or add an iron-on webbing behind the hole to seal it shut if your leggings can handle the heat of an iron.