Sewing Technique with Burda: How to Repair Damaged Clothing?

Have you torn your favorite garment or noticed signs of wear on your beloved shoes? No worries, we have the solution to breathe new life into them and postpone those farewells.

At the peak of our disposable culture, old and damaged clothes—and even garments that were like new but out of fashion—were thoughtlessly thrown into the trash to be shredded and recycled. This isn't inherently a bad thing, but we can do even better. Social norms are evolving, and along with them, consumption habits are becoming more conscious and therefore more sustainable. It's about more than just discarding damaged clothes; it's about mending, patching, and repairing them, and ideally, giving them a new, personalized, or trendy twist. In practice, many expensive designer pieces are already "worn," full of holes, patched, or vintage. You can do it yourself!

Repairing Clothing Yourself: Key Methods

Mending: In this case, you repair the damaged garment by attempting to rejoin the fabric edges using straight stitches. With a woven fabric like cotton, you weave the weft and warp threads together with the needle, meaning that in each row, one weft thread (width) alternately passes over and under each warp thread (length).

Darning: This means you repair the garment with a needle and thread without restoring the fabric. You bring the edges of the hole closer together with stitching.

Patching: Here, you repair a hole or tear in a garment by sewing a piece of fabric known as a "patch" onto it.

Repairing Clothing by Hand

Repairing a Garment by HandRepairing a Garment by Hand


The area to be darned is already slightly worn: iron and brush the damaged area so that the remaining fabric fibers are straight and flat. There's no need to cut the protruding threads, as they can be "woven" into the warp and weft threads during darning. Darn the damaged area.


The fabric is torn but not worn: reinforce the edges of the tear with a slip stitch, then secure the tear with a piece of fusible interfacing of the required length. When ironing on the interfacing, ensure that the edges of the tear are as close together as possible. Sew the edges of the tear together with small, matching stitches.


The fabric has a hole or is heavily damaged: measure and trace a square around the hole, large enough to cover the entire damaged area. Then, cut along the marked lines. Transfer the size of this square to the patch fabric, adding a 1.4 cm seam allowance. Cut the patch fabric. On the garment, make a 7 mm notch at the corners of the square, fold the edges of this square 7 mm to the wrong side, and press them flat. Place the patch fabric under the hole, fold its edges to the wrong side, and sew them onto the garment with an invisible stitch. If you only have thin patch fabric on hand and the damaged garment is thick denim, you can apply fusible interfacing to the wrong side of the patch fabric to reinforce it.

Repairing Clothing with a Sewing Machine

Repairing Clothing with a Sewing MachineRepairing Clothing with a Sewing Machine

Small Hole or Small Tear Without Wear

Cut a piece of fabric to cover the hole. Attach the fabric piece to the inside of the damaged area with pins or basting stitches. If there is a tear, you can also use fusible interfacing to secure the damaged fabric. Trim any excess threads and fibers if needed. Install a darning foot on your sewing machine; if you don't have one, use a universal presser foot. Stitch over the tear with small straight stitches, alternating between forward and backward stitches, or use the backstitch button. Repeat the process, but at right angles to the previous stitches.

When the Fabric Has a Hole or Is Severely Damaged

Initially, follow the same procedure as for hand patching. Once the patch fabric is positioned under the hole, sew the two pieces together using the sewing machine. Before lifting the presser foot and turning the garment, ensure that the needle is securely placed in the corner.

You can also topstitch around the hole on the right side of the fabric, about 1 cm from the edge, and embellish the hole's edge with a zigzag stitch.

If the damaged fabric is lightweight, you can reinforce the edges of the tear with squares of fusible interfacing.

Et voilà!  You now know how to repair clothing by hand or with a sewing machine.