What to do if your suit has a rip, split seam, moth hole, hem fallen down and more…
by Clare Sheng
Your favourite suit jacket has a small rip, or there is a tear on your trousers. What about moths that has gotten into your wardrobe and chewed a small hole in your new wool suit? It is frustrating when this happens, and can easily ruin the look of your outfit. When is it an easy mend, and when should you give up and donate the suit to the salvos? Here are the most common repair jobs we see on a daily basis, and if they can be repaired.
Sometimes the stitching along the seams just come apart due to an unfortunately angled movement, or pocket catching on a door handle. The fabric is not turn, and you just need machine stitch to fix the hole, and re-enforce to stabilise the area. This is the easiest repair, and will look as if it’s never been split.
Rip in fabric
Rips can occur near pockets, knees, jacket sleeves etc. If the fabric is damaged and frayed, it can be darned. Darning is where a piece of fabric is patched under the rip to stabilise the area, and stitching is done over the rip to make it strong. The result is visible, but very strong. Depending on where the rip is, it may be darned so the suit can be worn again. Rips in the crutch, along pockets, near seams, under cuffs should be mended as they’re not too visible. However, rips in the front of jackets, elbows, middle of the knee are very visible, and the suit may need to be let go.
The pesky little moths and silverfish loves natural fibre. In Queensland, you will often find small holes appearing on your favourite suit or jumper. These holes can usually be mended invisibly, to save destroying a whole suit. Invisible mending is when each fibre gets woven back into the fabric, so the finish is completely invisible. It is very expensive and takes at least a week. For 1-2 moth holes, it is worth spending around $100 for invisible mending, compared to buying a new suit. Holes that are close to seams or in hidden areas of the body, can be darned with a machine for a quick solution.
Crutch wear out
This is caused by rubbing of the thighs while walking. This is not due to inferiority of the fabric or its make, but because of the nature of the fabric and everyone’s individual body shapes. The finer the fabric, the more likely the fabric will wear out. That’s why, you will often hear retailers asking you to only wear fine wool suits no more than one to two times per week. Some guys have close set legs, and they will find their crutch worn out most quickly. We can darn it by placing a large triangular piece of fabric inside, stitched to the damaged fabric to be re-enforced, and may make the trousers last another 6 months. The result is visible, the pants will feel more stiff, but it will be stronger. If the fabric is beyond damaged, then we can cut out the fabric, and replace it with a new piece. You will see diamond shaped seam in the crutch area, but cannot see it if you are standing or wearing the trousers. This fabric may still wear out if this is a common problem for your shape. Installing a satin saddle may slowdown the wearing out of the trousers.
Hem Fallen down
Trousers hems are usually hemmed with a machine that shows almost no stitching on the outside of the fabric. This is called an invisible hem. This looks great, as the trousers look seamless. However, it is also very easy to come apart. With the right agitation, pulling or sometimes roughage, the seam can easily unravel and the hem come down. This does not mean the maker of the trousers is inferior, but purely bad luck or being too rough with the trousers. It can be easily fixed by bringing it in and have it run in the hemming machine couple more times. If you know your hems tend to fall down, pay a bit more and ask for the hem to be hand stitched. It is also invisible, and less likely to fall off. Because it is hand stitched, it takes more time and will cost more. Hand stitch is recommended on very fine fabrics that shows stitching on the outside of the fabric, if a machine is used.
Belt loops worn out
This is another very common occurrence on work trousers, due to rubbing of the belt on the fine wool fabric. The belt loops can be easily replaced, by making new ones. If you have the cut off hem from when you first bought the trousers, we can use that so the loops look exactly the same. Alternatively we will find a very similar colour to make new belt loops.
Pockets worn through
Guys tend to put a lot of things in their pockets, like keys, coins, phone and wallet. Cotton pockets can often get worn through with overuse. The pockets can also be easily replaced or re-enforced by adding new cotton fabric.
The lining on trousers and jacket can get worn out over time, especially near the pockets, armholes and sleeves. Lining can be easily mended, and is worth the effort, as it is inside the jacket and cannot be seen. If it badly damaged, the lining can even be completely replaced to increase the longevity of the suit.
Another common repair we see is the zippers. Guys need to use their zippers many times each day, and it’s no wonder it’s one of the first part of the trousers to get damaged. Zippers can be repaired or replaced for under $40, but please be careful with the fabric around it, as if you are too rough or in a hurry and rip the fabric, it will require darning, which is visible.
When to chuck it away
When the rip is somewhere very obvious and longer than 5cm.
When the fabric has thinned so much due to wear, that it is shiny and out of shape.
When there are multiple moth holes and rips.
When the fusing has come apart and the jacket has bubbled.
Want to know more?
The Suit Book – Everything You Need to Know About Wearing a Suit