Learning about Darning

Within the realm of sewing, there are fewer things less appealing than mending. Whether sewing on a button, fixing a rip or re-stitching a falling hem, I put mending tasks off for as long as possible. Mostly it leads to me leaving an item in the wardrobe instead of fixing and wearing it. I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in this...

On Saturday I went to a darning workshop in Glasgow's Tramway arts venue. They were holding a day long Glasgow's Green event, which included a number of free workshops. The one I went to was run by Angharad McLaren and focussed on visible mending.
Visible mending is exactly as the name suggests, a technique where darning and repairs are made in a different colour yarn or are in some other way obvious. You might know about it from Tom of Holland's blog. It is designed to make repairs into a badge of honour - they are visible and worn proudly, as if to show your sustainable credentials. It also promotes mending by making it obvious too. Should you prefer to be more covert about your repairs, the techniques are exactly the same, just using a matching yarn to your garment.
The workshop was only an hour long, but it was just enough time to try out a bit of darning. The fabric was put in an embroidery hoop to keep it taut - this would never have occured to me and is a great way to ensure it is kept even.

We chose a template shape - I went with a circle and selected red darning wool. Angharad showed us how to keep the stitches entirely on one side of the fabric, picking up threads on the top of the fabric on the borders of the shape. Once you have filled your shape with lines in one direction, you go back the other way and weave the thread through, like warp and weft threads. It's actually pretty satisfying. We used mending wool (part wool, part nylon to be hard wearing), that you can get from haberdasheries. You can also used embroidery thread, as seen in these pretty samples:
So will I now start mending stuff? Hopefully! Now I have tried this technique I feel inspired to use it again when I get the chance. Unfortunately most of the mending that I need to do is taking up hems and reinforcing the knees (and crotches) of jeans. I think a similar 'visible' technique could be applied to mending jeans, using a contrasting fabric under a hole. Not in the crotch are though. That would be pretty weird...

Have you ever tried visible mending? Or is any kind of mending a stretch for you, like for me?

K x


  1. I could do with a course in darning. I'm forever patching up ancient woollens and I really haven't a clue what I'm doing - trial and error is the order of the day. xxx

  2. i've never darned anything. but i love the look of that - really cool!

  3. The only visible mending I have done was to use funky fabric under the knees of my jeans. This looks like a great idea. Love the embroidery thread versions. Xx

  4. Haha :)) Yes I do mend, but like you I will put it off until I absolutely must....the workshop looks enjoyable. I usually mend invisibly, but I will definitely bear this in mind next time, probably for denim or casual stuff where a 'visible mend' would look cool.

  5. How cool! I've never seen "darning wool" in a shop- is it similar to, say, sock yarn, or is it stronger?

    1. It's finer than sock yarn, like a thick thread, and is partly nylon to make it hard wearing. It's probably a around the weight of a good quality, purchased (machine made) wool sock

  6. Visible mending is a lovely idea, embroidery almost!


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