Use a darning mushroom to create a curved, tensioned surface to work on – you can get hold of these in haberdashery stores or online in places like eBay.
You will need: a darning needle, mending thread and darning mushroom (a light bulb can be used as a darning mushroom substitute!)
Top tip: use a strong wool-nylon blend yarn to ensure your darn is durable and lasts a long time – these can be found in John Lewis stores and other haberdashery or yarn stores.
- Make the darn the shape of the hole
- Darn up and down the hole first, working on the wrong side
- Choose mending thread as fine as the material of the garment – too thick a thread will weaken the fabric but too fine will make a feeble repair.
- Begin a good distance away from the hole in order to reinforce the thin parts around the hole
- Space the rows of darning the width of a strand of mending thread apart
- Leave small loops at the end of each row and darn so that stitches alternate with spaces between stitches in previous rows
- Stitch under the edge of the hole in one row then go over the edge in the next row. This will help make the repair neater.
- Continue the darn into the thin fabric past the hole
- Start your horizontal threads only about 2 rows away from the hole
- Weave the thread under and over the vertical stitches across the heel, and vice versa as you move back across the heel.
- Leave loops at the end of each row, and only weave under the vertical stitches
- Stitch to about 2 rows below the hole and secure your thread – you will now have created a new layer of fabric to repair and reinforce the hole!
(Instructions adapted from ‘How to Mend Holes and Tears’ wartime leaflet and the chapter on Darning in ‘Modern Needlecraft’ edited by Davide C. Minter, 1935.)