Clothes and soft furnishings such as linen, cushions and the fabric on chairs will need some repair work when an area becomes worn or gives way due to constant wear or an accidental tear. Preventive strengthening measures can be taken in certain instances, such as decorative patches on seat cushions or the arms of padded chairs, and elbows and knees on clothes. Other embellished items, such as cushions and table cloths, can also be reinforced with interfacing on the wrong side before sewing on decorative elements, such as buttons and tassels, to further strengthen the fabric.
Once an area of fabric, whether clothing or soft furnishing, has become worn or frayed, the techniques for darning and repairing are not difficult to learn and are well worth the effort if it saves you from having to replace a much-loved family item.
Darning by Hand
- Choose a thread for darning that matches the fabric colour as closely as possible. Use one that is slightly thinner than the fabric threads, otherwise the darning will be too thick, and work with a long length.
- Work small running stitches back and forth across the fabric within the marked area. Leave a slight loop at the end of each row so that the darn doesn’t become too tight. At the worn area, leave the thread lying parallel across the hole and work running stitches on each side.
- Turn the work so that the laid threads are horizontal. Begin to weave over and under the stitches and threads until the entire area is covered with a woven parch. Avoid pulling the threads tight.
- Bring the edges of the rear together by loosely overseeing them. Work tiny stitches across the rear, from the beginning and ending 6mm /1/4in beyond each end of the rear.
- On a worn garment or pocket tear, iron a square of iron-on interfacing, to the wrong side before working the stitches. Pin the pocket hack in position and restitch over the repair.
- A button can be fixed by replacing over a right-angled rear once it has been repaired with interfacing and machine stitching on the fabric to leave the work overcast in over the raw edge, and in the front side as well.
- This type of patch is normally used to repair garments but will come in handy with bed linen, curtains and cushions. To make the patch less obvious, cut the fabric to match the colour and pattern of the worn area as closely as possible.
- Cut a patch about 3-4cm / 4-11cm / 2in larger than the worn area. Baste the patch 6mm / 4in throughout the raw edge and notch any curves. Turn under and haste the raw edge. Work small, neat hemming stitches to secure.
- This quick and easy patch is a hard-wearing way of repairing most utility items around the home. Use fabric from furniture or fabric, then use a darning foot on the machine and stitch with finer fibre such as machine embroidery thread, in a colour to match the fabric.
- Cut a square or rectangular patch about 2 .3cm / ¾in larger than the worn area and bastes in position on the right side, matching the grain of the fabric.
Darning by Machine
- Machine darning is suitable for strengthening worn areas such as the knees of trousers, but can be rather solid if used to fill a hole on a piece of another similar item, if possible, or prewash a new piece of fabric to soften it. Stitch with a matching thread.
- Turn the garment over and trim the worn areas of the patch to 1cm. The finished patch will have two rows of zigzag showing on the right side.
- Leave a 5mm allowance. Work overcastting or buttonhole stitches over the raw edges without stitching into the front side of the patch.
- Baste a circle of running stitches around the outside of the worn area. If possible, fit the fabric into an embroidery hoop so that it lies flat against the needle plate. Lower the darning foot and work parallel rows of stitching fairly close together hack and forth across the marked area.
- Stop with the needle in the fabric and turn the hoop until the stitches lie across the other way. Stitch more parallel rows slightly further apart to form a stitched grid over the marked area. If filling a hole, turn, the hoop back ground and work a third set of parallel rows across the hole.