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Preemptive pants patching?

It kills me, absolutely kills me, to throw clothing in the garbage. We consign or donate or hand-down clothes whenever possible or turn grubby t-shirts into rags. But, Houston, we have a pants problem.

My kids blew out the knees of every single pair of pants they owned last year. I tried the iron-on patches, but either the adhesive didn't hold or the area around the knee was worn too thin. I would have had to patch the entire leg, which would have been so attractive. I turned a couple pairs of jeans into cut-off shorts this summer, but couldn't persuade my son to wear cut-off corduroys (can't say I blame him). Into the trash they went. This year I'm thinking about preemptively reinforcing the knees before the pants get worn. Is this crazy?

I'm not a terribly adept seamstress, but I could probably manage to sew on a few patches. Does it make sense to patch the knees of pants until the patch gets worn in order to protect the lifespan of the pants? We're talking about several pair of pants here, for both son and daughter (and daughter plays harder on the playground than son). In my mind I can see decorative appliques on her pants, and just regular patches on his (though I'm not a huge fan of the big square patches over the knee). Sigh. I just don't know.

Do you have any pants patching advice to share? Aside from instructing my children to only walk slowly or always remain upright on the playground, I don't know how to handle the blown-out knees conundrum. Any thoughts?

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