My Go-To Stitch for Sewing Repairs (That Anyone Can Do)

If mending is your goal, a whipstitch is the first stitch I recommend learning. Anyone can do a whipstitch, and with practice, you can get very fast and precise with it. Here’s how to use a whipstitch to mend clothing, toys and housewares.

Related: 3 Ways to Extend the Life of Your Clothing

Before we get to how to use a whipstitch, let’s look at this short video showing you how to do this simple, versatile stitch:

See? It couldn’t be easier. I sort of think of it as going down, around and up. Repeat, until your mending job is complete. If you can thread a needle, you can do a whipstitch, and I use it for all kinds of repairs.

The thing to keep in mind when you’re using the whipstitch for mending is that your repair may be visible. You have two options:

  1. Choose a thread color that’s close to what you’re repairing or choose a contrasting color. If you match the color to your garment and do small stitches, your repair will be tougher to spot.
  2. Choose a contrasting thread. If you go this route, you’re basically showing off your handiwork. This is my favorite way to go when I’m mending with a whipstitch. You put in that work – show it off!

Here are some examples of how I’ve used a whipstitch to mend clothing and housewares.

How to Use a Whipstitch for Mending

Use a whipstitch to repair a pocket.

1. Reattach a pocket.

This is probably the most common use for a whipstitch around my house. I am hard on my sweatshirts, and the pockets tend to separate over time. With a whipstitch, I can reattach that separated pocket easily. I once even did this on an airplane while I was still wearing the sweatshirt that needed mending. Start just above where the seam is coming apart, and sew a little bit past the end of the damaged bit, so your newly attached area will hold up to wear and tear.

 

2. Repair torn blankets or tablecloths.

Depending on the tear, this might not be the prettiest fix, but it gets the job done. In the image above, I actually used the zigzag stitch on my sewing machine to save time, but you can get the same effect with a whipstitch—just keep those stitches small. For a repair like this, I recommend backing the fabric with something to stabilize it. I used a scrap of ribbon.

Use a whipstitch to mend a tablecloth.

The trick is to begin your stitch about 1/8″ before the start of the tear, and sew another 1/8″ past the end of the tear—that will give you the sturdiest fix.

 

3. Mending soft toys.

One of our dogs likes to chew on my son’s toys when we aren’t home, and he tears the fabric or pops the seams on them sometimes. Whipstitch to the rescue!

Use a whipstitch to mend a toy.

Use a whipstitch to mend a toy.

My son thinks it’s cute when I use a contrasting thread for repairs. You can see this in action on one of his favorite toys. Since this is a yarn doll, I used embroidery thread for the repair. He asked me to leave that bit of thread hanging off. Now his favorite doll has a tiny ponytail!

Related: Simple Sewing Tips to Repair Damaged Clothes

 

4. Repair torn clothes

In the image, you can see how I repaired a pair of my son’s pants, where the casing around the elastic had come apart. For this one, I chose orange thread so I could show you the repair in this photo, but it won’t be super obvious when he’s wearing them.

Use a whipstitch to repair clothing.

Related at Care2

Anyone can do a whipstitch, and with practice, you can get very fast and precise with it. Here's how to use a whipstitch to mend clothing, toys, and housewares.

All photos by Becky Striepe

51 comments

Lesa D
Lesa D11 days ago

whipstitch it good!!!

thank you Becky...

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Anne F
Anne Fabout a month ago

Thanks for the practical advice.

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Mia G
Mia Gabout a month ago

Thank you

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Rosemary H
Rosemary H1 months ago

I think that's the way I mend things automatically. I never thought about it like this - I just do it!

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Paulo R
Paulo R1 months ago

ty

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Paulo R
Paulo R1 months ago

ty

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Paulo R
Paulo R1 months ago

ty

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LF F
LF F2 months ago

I usu do a hidden stitch w my repairs and dig the needle in underneath the fabric and under again. Some tears, I use the iron on patches to pull together and reenforce.

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Mia G
Mia G3 months ago

thanks for sharing

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Kathryn I
Kathryn I3 months ago

Wish I had the patience to engage in sewing repairs--too tedious for me. Thanks for sharing!

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