How to Repair
Your Sweaters

Common sweater repairs how-to

How to Repair Your Sweaters

A quick and easy guide to fixing common knitwear problems

Maybe it was a moth. Maybe it got caught on something. Or perhaps you found yourself in a knife fight on the day you happened to be wearing your favorite sweater. In any case, now your knitwear is inflicted with a hole. Too often, we end up tossing or donating a perfectly good sweater simply because it's got a small hole. But there are fairly simple solutions to fixing this all-too-common problem.

As we reach the tail end of winter, now is the time to assess your knitwear collection. You've still got a few weeks (maybe months) of wearing them remaining, but consider cleaning and repairing them before the season closes and you put them away until next fall.

We're big believers in repairing (not just replacing) your clothing. After all, this is a garment that you love, right? It's an extension of your personal style and having a small, stitched repair (even if it's noticeable) adds some character—it gives the clothing an air of rugged nobility. Like a scar, it conveys a story of survival and strength. And if you do the repair yourself, you'll not only be taking the most economical and sustainable route, but you'll gain a deeper connection with your wardrobe and learn a new skill. Not a bad trade-off, huh?



Sweater snag fix illustration

Fix a snag or loose thread in a sweater by turning it inside out and using a simple safety pin or needle to grab the snagged yarn. Then pull the excess yarn back into the inside of the sweater. Knot the yarn inside the sweater (as close to the fabric as possible) and trim off any of the excess.

Want to prevent snags in the future? Clothing experts warn that one of the easiest things you can do to prevent them is to do a better job of sorting clothes before you wash them. Keep your knitted garments away from jeans or other heavy clothes with zippers, which pull threads. Also make sure pet nails are trimmed and smooth.

Sweater snag fix illustration



Sweater hole fix illustration

For larger, more serious holes, you'll need to utilize a technique called “darning”. This is something of a lost art in the age of affordable fashion, but our grandparents' generation is likely all too familiar with this practice of mending small holes to repair an otherwise fine garment. How it works is that you're essentially stitching up the hole by reweaving in new knitted material. You can use a contrasting color to highlight your stitching or match the color of the original yarn for a more invisible repair.

Sweater hole fix illustration


Situate the hole snugly over a wooden darning mushroom to support the fabric, but don't stretch it too tightly. This helps you create a stabilized work surface.


Create a vertical running stitch base across the entire hole, extending just past the edges.


Repeat the process, now stitching horizontally, weaving your thread over and under the vertical thread lines. This is what recreates the knit's original weave. Finish by pushing the needle inside the garment, tie off the thread, and snip it.

Essential Tools


The Quilted Bear Magnetic darner and needle kit

Magnetic darner and needle kit, $8.99 by The Quilted Bear

Laine Saint-Pierre Wool darning yarn

Wool darning yarn,
$5 by Laine Saint-Pierre


The Clothes Doctor has an easy-to-follow video tutorial showing you the surprisingly simple technique.

Call in
the Pros

If you're not the DIY type, don't trust yourself with a needle or simply don't have the time (or patience) to practice and perfect your darning technique, then there are professionals that you can entrust your knitwear with—it will simply cost you more time and money (the average repair will cost anywhere from $30 to $50). The upside is that the repairs are much more invisible and far more durable. The shops have a wide range of yarns to match your sweater and employ various knitting options to mend the hole. Alterknit and The French American Reweaving Co. in New York, Without a Trace in Chicago and the Knitwear Doctor in Costa Mesa, California, are all trusted shops.


Always fold sweaters. And whether you’re packing them in a box or stacking them in your closet, a commercial folding board makes it both quick and easy.

$7.45 by Household Essentials

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