How to sew a Ripped seam {Tips to repair tears in stitching easily}

ripped seam repair

My daughter came and told me her new uniform top was too loose. I altered it with two small darts in the back. Some weeks later she came up again for repair – I guess the top shrunk with washing and then she grew (though she refuses the notion outright ) – the seam on the side popped!

Now I have a split seam to repair! These are the options I have to sew the seams back.

How to sew a rip in the seam by hand

If you do not have access to a sewing machine or think that hand sewing is the best and easiest, you can make small back stitches in place of the old broken stitches.

The back stitches closely resemble the sewing machine’s straight stitches.

Here is how to sew the back stitch by hand and sew the seam shut.

Step 1. To make the stitch, start by threading a hand sewing needle with matching thread.

thread a hand sewing needle with matching thread for sewing the seam back.

The thread should be either the same color or a little darker shade of the fabric.

A lighter-colored thread will stand out against the dark color of the fabric, and you want invisible mending.

Step 2. Bring up the needle half inch before the start of the rip.

bring up the needle half inch before the start of the rip.
Take a stitch, one stitch ahead of where you came up. Each of them should be of the same length. 

make a small stitch upwards and then bring up the needle a stitch upwards on the stitching line.
make a small stitch upwards and then bring up the needle a stitch upwards on the stitching line.

Bring the needle up.

take up the needle

Now make a similar stitch upwards.

The second stitch

Make similar stitches upwards.

make backstitches on the stitching line

As you finish, anchor the stitch with repeatedly stitching twice in the same place at the end.

anchor the stitches at the end.

Broken Serger stitches

If the edge serged stitches are broken you can repair it by hand too, with overcast stitches.

broken serger stitches

Bring up the needle from the back at the outside line of the serger stitches.

repairing broken edge stitching

You will now be making stitches over the edge.

stitches made over the edge

Now start making stand alone chain stitches.

For that bring the needle down through the same spot you came up. 

Make a loop over the needle with the thread. 

ripped serger stitches

Bring up the needle and tighten – a lazy daisy chain stitch is formed along the edge.

Make the second stitch very close to the first one.

edge stitching repair Repeat all over the edge.

edge stitches

Continue making stitches around the edge.

If made with matching colored thread, I can assure you it wouldn’t look as conspicuous. 

How to sew up a rip with the sewing machine stitches

Usually, in a store-bought garment, the seam will be finished twice – one with the seam stitches and the other with the serged edges. If the serged edges are broken, you can finish the edges with a zig-zag stitch.

But if the straight stitching on the seam is ripped open, as it has done for me, you either use a straight stitch on woven fabric or a tight zig-zag stitch on a knit fabric. The zig-zag stitching will give some flexibility and stretch to your stitches and will stretch and recover along with your knit fabric.

Remember to start with one or two back stitches when you first start to avoid the seam coming open again at the beginning and also at the end.

If there is a hole where the seam was ( maybe the stitches pulled at the seam line and frayed the fabric there, creating small holes), you will have to reinforce the area with small interfacing tape. Cut up strips from fusible interfacing for this, or use seam reinforcing tape.

Step 1.

Bring the garment inside out.

Step 2.

Remove the broken threads from the area.

Step 3.

Pin the seam together accurately

Step 4.

Adjust the stitch selection to straight stitching for woven fabrics and zig-zag stitching for knit fabrics.

zig zag

Zig zag stitches for sewing seams on knit fabrics.

Step 5.

Start sewing 1/2 inch before the start of the rip. Make two stitches to the front, press the reverse dial, and sew to the back. This is your anchoring stitches.

Step 6.

Finish 1/2 inch after the end of the ripped seam. Make anchoring stitches with the reverse dial as earlier.

How to fix a ripped seam if you cannot access the back

Rip on a seam which cannot be accessed from the back.
Rip on a seam which cannot be accessed from the back.

There are some seams which cannot be accessed from the back; for eg. on a couch. You can hand sew these seams by a simple hand stitch – the slip stitch.

The slip stitch is made along the folds of the two sides. The needle slips between the folds making parallel stitches which become invisible when you tighten the thread.

Steps to sew a backless seam which is ripped

Step 1. Bring up the needle through the fold of the seam

repair a seam without a back opening

The needle has to be brought up along the folded edge of the seam allowance, at all time that you will be making the slip stitches.

Step 2. Needle taken to the other side.

The needle is then inserted through the other side fold. And a stitch made through the fold of the edge.

stitches made along the folds to close the seam edges

Step 3. The direction of the slip stitches

The direction of the slip stitch

The stitches are made evenly along the folded edges – of same size. The red lines on the picture above indicates the thread passing along the folds of the fabric. Use thick thread and make small stitches.

Step 4. Tighten the stitches

repaired ripped seams.

You have to tighten the stitches after every two or three stitches. Do not wait till the end to tighten – you maynot be able to. This is not the most secure of all stitches, but considering that you have no option other than this to repair the torn seam, it can stand a lot of wear. 

Updated on November 13, 2022 by Sarina Tariq

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