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Darning for Absolute Beginners

Uh-oh! That beautiful and unique vintage dress that you found at the thrift shop came with a moth hole? Your favourite knitted sweater was the victim of an inconvenient encounter with a wild sharp edge?

You missed laundry day and now the only clean socks in your drawer are the ones with a hole in the toes? No problem, grab threads and a needle, today you’ll learn the delicate art of darning.

Darning is what will save your favourite pair of jeans when they inevitable crotch hole makes an appearance. Whenever fabric is wearing a bit thin, you need to act fast. In order to make a nearly invisible darn is very important to do it as soon the fabric begins to wear thin, so you can imitate the texture of the fabric as well as possible, keep reading to learn how to do it the right way.

The Tools:

Get a large needle, thread, you can use the same colour or a complimentary one, scissors and yes, as this is a very delicate and laborious job, you’ll need any of the following special tools to make a perfect darn:

  • Darning egg: As the name indicates, is an egg-shaped tool. Is made of hard materials like wood, ceramic or stone is used mostly to darn toes or heels of socks. You’ve definitely seen one of these on your granny’s sewing kit.
  • Darning mushroom: Usually made of wood, it stretches the fabric and helps to hold it all in place while you begin to sew. It’s a little bigger than the egg and the handle makes it very easy to use. Don’t underestimate the power of a darning mushroom as it will surely make the whole process easier.

Inspect the Damage

Before you can fix any holes you need to clean the area. Eliminate any loops, fluff, or broken thread ends. Clip away any raffed edges and clean any dirt or debris that might have stuck to the fabric. If the damage is too bad you might have to consider using a patch or doing some needle felting (this technique is very useful when the piece of clothing is knitted or has a lot of small moth holes).

Ready? Set, go!

Prepare the needle and the thread. Remember that you can use any colour depending on the effect you want to create; if you want a nearly invisible repair just use a thread of the same colour as the fabric. Make sure the length of the thread is enough, but not too much to prevent breakage and tangling while sewing.

Start stabbing about ¼ inch to the side of the hole, and remember that the knot should always be on the inner side of the garment. Place your darning tool under the hole, it will help with keeping the fabric stretched while you work on the repair. Once you’re set, with a running stitch make the darn the same shape as the hole. Darn up and down, so in a vertical pattern, through the hole. And remember that in order to avoid extra damage, the area surrounding the hole needs to be work on too.

Once you’re done with the area, is time to switch and do it horizontally, darning over the first rows of darn. The darn must be about 2-3 stitches over the hole in the darning beyond, criss-cross through the vertical darning stitches, leaving loops at the end of each row. The process looks easy but requires attention, check this video to a closer look at the process, so you can save your beloved clothes.