Friday, May 13, 2011

mending: darning tights/socks

Most people are lucky to be of a "normal" size and can find all kinds of things that fit them but I am a bit taller than the average woman and tights/pantyhose are always hard to ft. Usually, the crotch hangs about midthigh. I refuse to wear them when they're like that. I found a pair while on vacation in Utah one year that miraculously fit me. I have looked multiple times and haven't found another pair since. So, I make sure to baby my tights since I may never get another pair again. From time to time, I get holes in the toes and I have to darn them. I would only darn socks if I really had no money to buy new ones since they're cheap and last me 2-3 years, or more, as it is, or if they're a more expensive variety, like wool but there are people out there who still darn their cotton socks.

It's a simple thing but does take a little time, especially for bigger holes. It's best to do the repair before you actual break all the threads but I sometimes let it go long enough that it's too late. A stitch in time, saves 9, as the saying goes...and it's true. I have never had to redarn an area so it is very strong. Darning is basically weaving the new thread into the old fabric.

This time, I had let it go way too long. I had one foot with a completely broken through hole and the other foot had a broken through hole and a smaller threadbare hole.

To do this, you need thread that matches the size of the yarn used...so wool socks will need thicker thread and these tights. I use cross stitching floss. You also need a basic needle and a darning egg of some sort. I use an old lightbulb which is just about perfect. (If you look closely at the bulb, you can actually see where I've used it in the past.) I have this one tucked in my sewing basket since we no longer use these lightbulbs. And of course, you'll need you holey tights.


Slip the lightbulb into the toe you need to work on and slightly stretch the toe around it. This makes it easier to work on. The needle will glide on the lightbulb without catching other threads as well as help to keep the original shape of the toe.

You don't ever want to make a knot because it would irritate your foot, especially if you're repairing the bottom part. Use only one strand. Leaving a short bit of tail, make a running stitch all the way around your hole. When you get back to the beginning, start making stitches from top to bottom, bottom to top, and repeat until you reach the other side of the hole. You don't want to cinch the two sides together so leave them slightly loose. Try to leave the hole exactly the same size as it was when you started.

In this picture below, I just finished the top to bottom stitches and am now ready to begin weaving.




One thread on top, one on bottom, repeating until you reach the other side. Repeat back and forth until you have finished. You'll finish it up by doing one more running stitch around the hole and snip the thread, leaving a bit of a tail.


I realize this is an awful pic but it was the best I was able to come up with. The top hole is the threadbare one I haven't touched yet. The one in the shadow is the one I just darned. It's just to show you the weaving proccess but I actually fill it in much more desely than that.



This is what it looks like when I have finished with the dense darning in each hole. You can see the whole area I have had to darn over the last 8 years...the area with no white peeking through. As it stretches a bit, the little tails disappear.





Like I said, it's super simple but it has definitely been a handy skill for me to have!

6 comments:

Valerie said...

I honestly didn't realize it was that complicated. I never would have thought of using a light bulb or be that brave. I'd be afraid of breaking it.

Tiff :o) said...

It's really not complicated, or scary. The light bulbs are pretty strong. I'm not hitting the needle into it with a hammer or anything.

Valerie said...

my grandma , who raised me, used to do it with a small apple in ! but the light buld is even smarter !

pardon me if i'm nosy Tiffany, but how tall are you ? i'm 5ft1O and thought this was hard to beat ;)

Tiff :o) said...

I'm 5'9"...you have me beat. The models are supposed to be tall but the rest of us are supposed to be shorter so clothes can be hard to find. Pants come in different lengths so those are ok but shirts are usually too short, or if they're not, the sleeves don't go all the way to my wrist. Tights almost never are long enough and the only shoes my size look like they're for old ladies.

Valerie said...

not that i'm very happy to beat you, dear ! and i grew up by one inch during my pregnancy (i was 5'9" like you, before).
my most recent pair of jeans (wrangler) were bought in the US in 2009 because they can be of a problem here where they sell mostly a lenght 32.
tights are not always a win-win, it depends on the brand, but i usually manage. besides i'm a 9B for the shoes which is fine, included for cowboy boots ;)
you have to plan a shoes & tights shopping trip in France :D

heartland frugalista said...

Lovely! I just interviewed a darner over at my blog:

http://tinyurl.com/4yyt2sq

Perhaps you, too, should consider setting up shop? @:-)

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