Seat Reinforcement with Visible Mending

I avoided wearing shorts at all costs in my late teens early twenties. Looking back I’m not really sure why, I think I just literally didn’t like any style of shorts, they never felt right on me. I opted for skirts and dresses instead in the summer.

red Anthropologie chambray shorts

I bought these shorts 10 years ago from Anthropologie as I was venturing into the world of shorts again. Ever since then, they have been one of my favorite pairs.

They were even recent justification for me to buy a new pair of shorts from Anthropologie. I am very aware of the time and energy that goes into making clothes, and believe that that time and energy contributed at every stage should be fairly compensated for. That being said, these shorts felt a little high for my budget. But I told myself, look how long my last pair of Anthropologie shorts lasted! (Which speaks to another good sustainability point, it’s worth spending a little more money for something that will last much longer.)

red Anthropologie chambray shorts thinning fabric

The butt in these shorts has been getting thinner and thinner over the years. I did a successful machine darn on a weak spot near the seam a couple years ago, but it has now started to grow again.

red Anthropologie chambray shorts hole and thinning fabric

Two babies and walking/running mountainside has changed the way all my pants fit. It also doesn’t help that I probably should have bought one size bigger to begin with, but they did not have that size in stock. And I really wanted these shorts.

I have seen butt reinforcement work out there in the world of menders, and knew some day it would be my turn to try it. It’s of the sashiko/boro influence, which I am still learning more about and exploring.


  • Bottoms to be mended
  • Scrap fabric to use for patch
  • Ruler
  • Water soluble marking pen
  • Embroidery floss
  • Sewing needle
  • Embroidery hoop
  • Small pair of scissors

I started by measuring the area I wanted to stitch over, which is basically the area of the hole, but also the fabric that felt very thin around it. Because the back inseam is so contoured, I also paid attention to the flattest area across the seam, so I could use one flat piece. If the area is too large to do that, I would suggest doing two pieces on either side of the seam so each piece can curve as the seam curves. The repair area for these shorts was about 4” wide and 3” tall.

red and white toile fabric

My scrap piece of fabric is from my nieces’ old bedsheets. I chose this fabric because the red is similar, and it’s lightweight so matches the weight of my shorts. I cut my rectangle and set it aside.

Next was to get the guidelines ready. I’ve never done a stitch design like this so I wanted to try it.

red Anthropologie chambray shorts

I slid a notebook inside the shorts for a flat surface to work on.

blue water soluble fabric marker

Using a water soluble marker and a ruler, I started by drawing grid of lines in my 4” by 3” area, spaced 3/8” apart.

red Anthropologie chambray shorts blue water soluble marker guidelines

This spacing ending up being a little too wide, so I used halfway points as guides to basically cut the spacing down to 3/16”. Which turned out to be a little small, so next time I’ll go an even ¼”. I avoided putting a vertical line on the inseam because I knew it would be awkward to stitch over. I ended up doing just that since I used halfway points as well, but it turned out fine. 

sashiko guidelines water soluble fabric marker

I wanted to put the middle of the design off center, so I darkened the lines that I needed. I didn’t feel the need to draw in the whole design, because once I saw the stitching pattern I knew I just needed a place to start and all the lines are stitched evenly after that. More on that later.

basted patch shorts reinforcement

Once I had my marking done, I turned the shorts inside out. I slid the notebook back in, and positioned my patch upside down, because if the patch ever starts showing through, I don’t necessarily want it to look like a girl is reading a book under a tree on my butt. Once the patch was in place I basted it to keep it there.

red chambray shorts repair embroidery hoopred chambray shorts repair embroidery hoop guidelines

I loaded it onto the embroidery hoop. Don’t settle for the mess that happens when you first get it on the hoop- straighten it out! It will be easier, look better, and be totally worth it. Just use the straight lines already drawn on and tug gently to make them straight again.

red chambray shorts embroidery floss

I had two embroidery flosses that were close in color, one lighter and one darker, I chose the lighter one.

The prep up to this point took 30 minutes.

red chambray shorts sashiko embroidery hoop reinforcement

To start the stitching I basically figured out where a horizontal stitch needed to be for the center square and worked backwards from there. The pairs of horizontal and vertical lines that make up the square need to match in their stitches, all other lines are opposite like bricks to create the stairs. And off you go.

caught fabric in hand stitching

I haven’t caught fabric in my hand sewing in a long time (in this case the label), but it can happen to anyone!

It's hard to say how long the stitching took me because I had a lot of interruptions, but my guess would be about 1 ½ hours.

red chambray shorts sashiko reinforcement

I removed the basting stitches, rinsed off the marker, trimmed some of the patch fabric, and hung it to dry.

red chambray shorts sashiko reinforcement

When I tried them on the next day I didn’t have nearly as much diaper butt as I thought I would. I’m hoping this will help me get some more life out of these shorts, even though I’d say I already got a lot!

red chambray shorts sashiko reinforcement

(thank you to my 5 year old for the butt shot photo)

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