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How to Fix a Hole or Snag in Knit Sweaters

While trying to save money on electricity, water, and laundry, I've learned some good habits worth sharing.

A little yarn, thread and practical know how can work wonders when repairing garments.

A little yarn, thread and practical know how can work wonders when repairing garments.

Don't Let a Sweater Snag Derail You

What to do when your favorite sweater gets snagged?

We all know that uh-oh feeling. The sweater you love so much gets caught on a rough place. Heart sinks. Sweater sleeve or edge pulls out. A long cord of yarn hangs from your sleeve, maybe even resulting in an ugly hole—now what?

Whatever you do, don't throw out the sweater. With a little practice and care, you will become an expert at fixing the most impossible of rips, tears, and holes. Just start out slowly and have patience with yourself. Here are some steps guaranteed to get you from Snagville to Solution Junction every time.

Hole and Snag Fixing

Fortunately, fixing a hole is not nearly as difficult as it may seem. Every problem has a solution, and here is no exception. Let's break it down into two possibilities: snag or hole.

How to Fix a Snag (No Hole)

  1. Turn the sweater inside out
  2. Pull the yarn inside (so it's on the inside of your sweater). The ugly evidence is out of sight for now!
  3. Stretch the sweater in all directions - first horizontally, then vertically, so that the pulled seam regains its original shape and elasticity.

Not always, but sometimes, this is enough. The loopy yarn may regroup to accommodate the space left from the snag. You may choose to secure the long yarn piece with a needle and thread, or not. Problem solved!

How to Fix a Sweater Hole

If there is a hole, simply follow the steps described above. A patch will need to be secured from the back side in a color that blends into the sweater. If you do it nicely enough it won't even be noticeable!

Using a scrap of fabric of the same color, carefully stitch the swatch onto the knit backing with a single threaded needle. Small stitches are better, and—easy does it.

It's Easy to Fix a Snag on the Edge of Your Sweater

If the edge of the sweater gets snagged on some rough spot, pull the sweater ribbing to an exaggerated width to normalize the tension of the sweater as it was before the snag occurred. If there is an excess of sweater yarn extending from the sweater's edge, use a crochet hook to carefully weave it back into the body of the sweaters without showing any lumps or suspicious bumps. Do not ever cut this yarn! Just weave it in. The crochet hook should be inserted in the lowermost link. Crochet upwards and towards the top. Little by little and you have stitched up the entire opening. If needed, you may secure the ends of the crochet loop with a needle and thread like in the Hole method.

Fixing to Fix 'Em

A Basting Stitch Holds the Material in Place

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Elbow and Knee Patch

There are plenty of holey opportunities. If you need to "fix a hole" on fabric, it can be easily remedied. So you have a hole on a kneecap? Fixable. Hole on an elbow? Yes.

Holes form where they get the most wear and tear. If your kids' knees are constantly growing hole, try fixing them from the back and on the front. Use a piece of compatible material from the back to plug the hole, so to speak. Then add colorful patch pockets on the front. No one will know whether it's a fashion statement or a case of the holey moleys!

Holes on the elbows - same thing. The popular British Isles sweater design includes two patches of compatible (but different) wool color affixed on the outside of the elbow. OK - it's fashion now, but in the old days, it was a matter of keeping those elbows covered! People were skinnier than they are now and those boney bones just kept a-poking their way through to daylight.

Fix Fix Fix

Lost Buttons (Button Pops)

Another wholly feasible problem is a hole resulting from a popped out button. You know - when the clothes are too tight and POP goes the button. Once again, a classic solution will save the day.

Place a piece of fabric in the back, baste around it in a contrasting color, then stitch it to the back of the fabric with tiny, fine stitches, using only a single threaded to leave less of a footprint. The basted stitches are there just to hold the fabric in place while you stitch. Basting is done in larger, fleeting stitches and single thread so you can easily remove it when the job is done. It works as well as straight pins without your hands getting stuck.

Another way to fix a small poked hole in fabric is to stitch it overhand until any and all rough edges are contained in the stitching. This was how I fixed my favorite, sheer crepe de chine dress after I passed through a heavily parked area on the way out of my friend's wedding. Rip! It caught in the mires of a metal bumper and I assumed the dress was gone for. Not so. Some fine hand stitching was enough to hide the hole, protect it from ripping any further. A stitch in time saves nine, but in this case, nine stitches in time saved 90 more. I wore that dress another few years.

The caption, Make Do and Mend was popular during the War effort (1939-1946).

The caption, Make Do and Mend was popular during the War effort (1939-1946).


Anastasia Kingsley (author) from Croatia, Europe on November 06, 2014:

Great tip, thanks Jennabee25!

Jenn Dixon from PA on September 09, 2014:

A crochet hook to pull loose and snagged threads through is useful, too!

RTalloni on October 13, 2013:

Good stuff here. There are a lot of reasons that it's important to know how to fix holes, and knowing how saves $ that can be used elsewhere, like on more yarn to make more sweaters! :)

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