How to Fix Holes in Cotton Shirts

By Melissa McCormick
Thread, shirt
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Maybe your wedding ring got caught on your shirt. Or someone mistook your sleeve for an ashtray. Perhaps a family of moths declared war on your wardrobe. Whatever the circumstance, holes in cotton shirts can be a real pain. And if the hole is not along a seam, there’s no way to make a perfect fix. But the good news is you can fix any type of hole enough to at least make the shirt wearable. Getting rid of the moths, on the other hand, is a whole different issue.

Doesn't Seam So Bad

Holes located along a seam are the easiest to fix. This is done by simply turning the shirt inside out, pinning the seam in place to cover the hole, and using a sewing machine to sew along the seam in the same stitching pattern that is used throughout the cotton shirt. It's also important to use the same color of thread that was originally used.

Hanging by a Thread

If the hole in your cotton shirt is very small, the best method of repair is to stitch the hole by hand using a thread that matches the color of your shirt. Stitch the shirt using a zigzag stitch until the hole is covered without puckering the fabric together. Although there will still be a small irregularity to the shirt, because the hole is small enough, the matching thread should make it appear nearly perfect.

Mending Your Ways

For holes in cotton shirts that are larger than 1/4 inch in diameter, the hole should be turned inside out and puckered so that both sides of the hole are touching. Then, stitch the hole by hand using a double-threaded needle and long stitch pattern. Once the stitching is complete, turn the shirt to the correct side and make sure the hole is completely covered. This method might cause some pull in the area of the shirt where the hole is, but it will at least close up the hole.

Let's Patch Things Up

For large holes, use a patch. While patching holes is not ideal, it is the best method for covering a large hole without puckering or altering the size of the shirt. To do this, cut the hole into a neat square and turn the shirt inside out. Then cut a piece of fabric 1/2 inch larger than the square and pin it in place. Choose a thread color that matches the shirt and sew the patch on using a straight stitch.