How-To: DarningHow-To: Darning

Darning was, with canning, one of those
old fashioned techniques that intimidated me; it just sounded hard. It’s only
after our family evolved into a Zero Waste household and our toes started
peeking through socks that I decided to give it a go. I was amazed to find out
how straightforward and forgiving darning really is.  If you’ve never
tried it, follow this simple tutorial, and you won’t need to collect worn-out
socks for dusting again (how many do you really need anyways?), but keep them
where they belong: On your feet!

What you need: A garment with a hole, a large needle threaded with a yarn color to match your garment, and an object with a rounded side (e.g., when I repair a sock, I use a cup).

 

Place the object under the hole

Run horizontal stitches over the hole, making sure that they cover an extra 1/2″ on all sides 

Weave rows of stitches perpendicular to the previous ones.

End your last stitch inside your garment and cut the yarn. When fixing socks, do not make a knot (comfort).

Pat yourself on the back! You’ve saved a piece of clothing and your budget!

Darning was, with canning, one of those
old fashioned techniques that intimidated me; it just sounded hard. It’s only
after our family evolved into a Zero Waste household and our toes started
peeking through socks that I decided to give it a go. I was amazed to find out
how straightforward and forgiving darning really is.  If you’ve never
tried it, follow this simple tutorial, and you won’t need to collect worn-out
socks for dusting again (how many do you really need anyways?), but keep them
where they belong: On your feet!

What you need: A garment with a hole, a large needle threaded with a yarn color to match your garment, and an object with a rounded side (e.g., when I repair a sock, I use a cup).

 

Place the object under the hole

Run horizontal stitches over the hole, making sure that they cover an extra 1/2″ on all sides 

Weave rows of stitches perpendicular to the previous ones.

End your last stitch inside your garment and cut the yarn. When fixing socks, do not make a knot (comfort).

Pat yourself on the back! You’ve saved a piece of clothing and your budget!

  1. Erica says:

    February 18th, 2013 at 9:34 am (#)

    Darning really seems so simple! Today I washed a small load of laundry by hand and I was stunned that it was so straightforward. It took some time, certainly, but was very satisfying work.

  2. Anonymous says:

    February 18th, 2013 at 8:19 pm (#)

    I bought an old non electric wringer washer at a yard sale for $5. I used to do my laundry on my deck and hang it up on a little line. The neighbors would ask if my washer had broken, but also, it had not, it was just so much fun to stand in the sun and do laundry! We sold it when scap prices rocketed (it was aluminum, and solid)… I always regret having gotten rid of it.

  3. Anonymous says:

    February 18th, 2013 at 10:23 am (#)

    Bea,
    I have been doing this all my adult (and my teen) life – a small tip: if you start by threading your yarn through the stitches where they are "free", before you start weaving, then the "ladder" can't run any further.
    Good luck with your repairs.
    Ann.

  4. Anonymous says:

    February 18th, 2013 at 10:50 am (#)

    Bea, the cup is genius! I had been a bit intimated by darning and thought I needed a darning egg. Thanks for the tip!
    Julie

  5. afrugalspinster says:

    February 21st, 2013 at 5:44 am (#)

    A lightbulb works great too.

  6. Anonymous says:

    February 18th, 2013 at 10:51 am (#)

    Fantastic! I've been wanting to ask you about Zero Waste clothing. Most items will eventually wear out, whether with their owner, or when passed on to another person. Do you ever think about having your family wear natural fibres only, so that the clothes will be compostable at the end of their life? Our family is great at buying used clothing and we're part of a wide circle of friends who share hand-me-downs, but we still have clothes that wear out or get too stained/ripped (even with multiple repairs) that we can't pass them on. What are your thoughts? Thank you!

  7. Catherine says:

    February 18th, 2013 at 11:54 am (#)

    Is there special yard one needs to darn, or is it just the plain yarn you see at "non-yarn" stores?

    Thank you, Bea, for this post; you must have read my mind.

  8. Bea Johnson says:

    February 19th, 2013 at 6:35 pm (#)

    Plain yarn from non-yarn stores is fine. But you can also unravel and use that of an old/wornout sweater. I prefer wool because it felts in the wash and becomes uniform.

  9. Tracy says:

    February 18th, 2013 at 4:24 pm (#)

    I was also wondering about the type of yarn. Great and useful information!

  10. Celyn Nicholson says:

    February 18th, 2013 at 4:26 pm (#)

    Bea : thank you for this post !

    I have so many dishtowels and bed linen from my grand-mother with this very special art of darning !
    I cherish them so much ! It reminds me of her and the time and patience she put on those pieces.
    We do it too on socks.
    On sweaters, I sometimes use an other trick :: felted wool to fill the hole and give a different look to the old sweater !

    PS : love the cup trick : save fingers !
    😉

  11. Michele Couture says:

    February 18th, 2013 at 5:36 pm (#)

    This is great! I have wondered, but never looked into what exactly "darning" meant. Love the idea of using the cup to make the stitching more uniform. Something new to try 🙂

  12. Katy @ The Non-Consumer Advocate says:

    February 18th, 2013 at 6:35 pm (#)

    I always use wool thread (embroidery type) as the yarn will felt itself after a few washes.

    Katy

  13. Joe says:

    February 18th, 2013 at 8:41 pm (#)

    Darn!!! I've always wanted to know how it was properly done!!! I would usually just swear at it and say "DARN SOCK GOT A HOLE IN THE TOE" 🙂

    Do you know how to fix holes in the inseam of trousers that get thread bare?

  14. Cattis says:

    February 18th, 2013 at 9:21 pm (#)

    Thanks for the tutorial, I was wondering how to do that.

  15. Anonymous says:

    February 18th, 2013 at 10:16 pm (#)

    My mom always used darning thread. When I asked at the Mega-sewing shop…they said they hadn't seen that in years. So I was wondering what to use, since regular thread is too thin.

  16. Chevanne says:

    February 19th, 2013 at 12:46 am (#)

    My husband has a lot of great wool socks that have gotten holes over the years. I need to try this.

  17. Kathryn @ Farming My Backyard says:

    February 19th, 2013 at 4:21 am (#)

    I've been making sock monkeys and other animals out of old socks, but I think I'll give darning another try. I think the trick is to catch the holes when they are still small. I seem to find them only after my husband has half his foot sticking out of the hole.

  18. Maria Zinom says:

    February 19th, 2013 at 4:04 pm (#)

    When I darn clothes, mines or child's, I sometimes like to darn with vibrant colors or even draw simple designs: earts, stars, smiles, flowers. It's also a way of customizing with humor!

  19. Anonymous says:

    February 19th, 2013 at 4:45 pm (#)

    My mom always used a burnt-out incandescent light bulb to darn socks. The roundness of the bulb was perfect for this.

    Grace

  20. Susan says:

    February 19th, 2013 at 9:22 pm (#)

    Grace, my mom uses a light bulb, too! 🙂

  21. Anonymous says:

    February 20th, 2013 at 10:57 am (#)

    Lucky me: my husband darns his own socks!
    I only sew the small holes. I just learned how is done in this tutorial!
    I guess getting married at an adult age (20 something) has its own perks!

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