Patching Knit Items

As much as I love to make new things I also greatly enjoy the comfort of things which I have worn and loved for a long time. But loving and using cherished items can lead to wear and tear. So it is with a beloved pair of gloves. These were not particularly expensive gloves but they are highly functional (they are finger-less with a mitten flap) and warm (wool knit on the outside with a fleece lining) so they have been a staple of my winter outfits for years. Unfortunately, both thumb pads have given way and my poor thumbs are getting cold.

Some people would advise me to throw them away and get a new pair. However, everything else about the gloves is perfectly functional. Therefore, I have decided to patch them and I will show you how so that you too can make some beloved knit item of your own last a little longer and, perhaps, look even cooler.

Here are the supplies I used.

I've got my gloves, a chunk of felt to make patches,  a needle, some thread and scissors. You can use almost any fabric you want for the patch. I just happened to have this felt from another project. I thought the color went well with those of the gloves as well as the texture. But play around. Patches can be functional and fun.

I started by sewing the fleece lining back together. Since it goes inside and hopefully no one will ever see it again I didn't worry to much about making it pretty.

Not pretty but functional. After that I shoved it back into the knit outer layer.

The hole covers pretty much the entire thumb but a large oval patch would fit nicely and not have to wrap around any.

First I cut a square roughly the right size. I then trimmed it to an oval that would cover the hole.

Only trim a little at a time and keep checking to see it will fit. Obviously you can't easily add more fabric back if you have made it too small so trimming little by little is the safe way to go.

I started sewing at the tip of the thumb but you could start anywhere. I was careful to only sew into the knit outer layer and the patch. Going too deep and I might sew the thumb together and not be able to use the gloves!

You could do a decorative stitch or use a bright contrasting color if you are trying to add more pizzazz. For this I just wanted uniform even stitches.

And there it is finished. When I had done both my husband said they looked like the leather patches on the elbows of a jacket. And because they are both the same color and placement it kind of looks like that is the way the gloves originally came and that it is a style element and not a patch.

I should get a couple more years of use out of these with these nifty new patches. But after fixing the holes I realized that the rest of the gloves were looking a bit shabby.

Natural fibers, such as this wool, tend to get these little linty balls which you can see in the photo. That is because there are many different lengths of fibers in the material and when you rub it the shorter ones pull out and ball together. Have you ever noticed that the armpits of sweaters are particularly prone to this happening?

It is perfectly normal and easily fixed. Just lay the knit item flat. Then use one hand to pull the ball away from the item while you trim the wispy connected strands with a small pair of scissors.

I have some thread snipping scissors with which have a spring that keeps pushing the blades open. These are helpful but not necessary. I've heard about people shaving their sweaters. I guess you could try that but I would worry about cutting into the item itself. But whatever works for you. This task can be a bit tedious so maybe do it in the evening while watching TV.

Here is the finished glove looking much cleaner and almost brand new. Fifteen minutes and a few cents worth of material and I saved myself having to spend $30 or more on new gloves. But more than the money it saved me having to find another pair of gloves I love this much and are as functional. It can be particularly hard to part with items you have made yourself. 

Now what are you going to patch and make better than new?