Whether moths have attacked your clothing, your ring snagged your shirt or your shirt has been through the war, holes in cotton shirts can be a pain. Unfortunately, if the hole is not along a seam, there is no way to make a perfect fix. However, you can fix any type of hole enough to make the shirt wearable.
Fixing a Hole on a Seam
Holes that are located along a seam in a cotton shirt are the easiest to fix. This is done by simply turning the shirt inside out, pinning the seam in place to cover the hole and sewing along the seam on the sewing machine in the same stitching pattern that is used throughout the cotton shirt. It's important to use the same colour of thread that is used throughout the shirt.
Threading a Hole
If the hole in your cotton shirt is very small, the best method of repair is to stitch the hole by hand using a thread that matches the colour of your shirt. Stitch the shirt in an in and out motion until the hole is covered with thread, without puckering the fabric together. Although there will still be a small irregularity to the shirt, because the hole is small enough, the matching thread should make it appear nearly perfect.
Mending a Hole
For holes in cotton shirts that are very apparent or larger than 1/4-inch in diameter, the hole should be turned inside out and puckered so that both sides of the hole are touching. Then, stitch the hole by hand using a double-threaded needle and a long stitch pattern. Once the stitching is complete, turn the shirt to the correct side and make sure the hole is completely covered. This method might cause some pull in the area of the shirt where the hole is, but it will at least close up the hole.
Patching a Hole
For large holes, you can use a patch. While patching holes is not ideal, it is the best method for covering a large hole without puckering or altering the size of the shirt. To do this, cut the hole into a neat square and turn the shirt inside out. Then cut a piece of fabric 1/2-inch larger all around than the square, pin in place and stitch on using thread that matches the shirt.