As a rule, it is quite worth while to mend linen to the very best of one's power. The articles have no small strain upon their durability by being continually in use and in the wash, therefore a weak mend is almost as useless as no mend at all, as it only displaces the surrounding threads, and hurries the material on its way to the rag bag.
Fig. 2. When the darn has been carried round the whole square, cut away the damaged material with sharp s:issors
Small holes and thin places can always be repaired with tiny, invisible darns; but if the damage extends over an area of any size, it is better to put in a patch, especially if the surrounding linen is still strong and good.
A neat and almost invisible method of fixing a patch into position is the following. First, a number of threads are drawn from both ways of the material in such a manner that they form a square around the damaged section (Fig. 1).
Fig. 3. Tack a small piece of material under the broken buttonhole, to which its edges can be sewn
A piece of linen of suitable fineness, and cut rather larger than the square, can now be tacked underneath. It is important to notice that the threads of the patch run exactly parallel with those in the original material. The patch will be neatest darned in by linen threads, which may be drawn from a long strip of old, but perfectly sound, linen. Each thread should be taken in and out as nearly as possible in the exact track of that which was previously drawn, but it must, of course, also be carried right through on to the under patch to make it quite secure. The small holes left at the corners of the square by the drawing of the threads will have to be completely filled in by taking the darn first one way and then the other. When the darn has been carried round the whole square, the injured material can be cut away close to it with a very sharp pair of scissors, thus leaving the sound piece in its place (Fig. 2). At the edge of the cutting it is better to run a neat finishing thread, so that the raw edge is quite covered.
Buttonholes often get broken and frayed
Fig 4. The buttonhole by this means will be made quite strong and good. Ah that remains to be done is to cut away the spare pieces of the patch on the reverse side during their sojourn at the laundry, and to make them good again it is sometimes necessary to re-work almost all the stitches. In order to do this successfully, a small square of material can be tacked under the buttonhole, to which the broken edges may be sewn (Fig. 3). A slit is then cut through, to correspond exactly with the buttonhole, and the two pieces of material can then be covered in with a strong buttonhole stitch, thus providing a perfectly firm rim, as strong and as good as new (Fig. 4). The spare material at the back of the buttonhole will, of course, be cut away close to the edge of the stitches.
Before replacing a button which has been torn away, it is often a good plan to insert a tiny circular patch. This may be made about the size of the button, so that it will not show, and it can be darned or run very neatly into place. To make it stronger, it can be cut from double material, thus ensuring a neat repair instead of the untidy bundle of material at the back of the button, so often seen if the button has been replaced without taking this precaution.
When pillow-cases get torn or frayed down at the side of the hem, it is best to adopt the following means of mending (Fig. 5). The tear may be cut down to the edge of the hem, and frayed a little quite evenly. A folded piece of material, just the right depth, is inserted into the hem on both sides, and darned down very neatly in position over the frayed threads (Fig. 6). In the fold of the pillow-case, this mend will be scarcely visible if carefully placed.
Fig. 5. A tear through the hem of a pillow case can be repaired by inserting a folded piece of material into the hem
It is a good plan when fixing either a difficult or a very large patch, to fray the edges of the material very neatly. The darning threads can be carried over this, and will make considerably less thickness of material.
Sheets generally wear the most badly in the middle. When they are past mending, and the sides are still good, the weak place may be cut away entirely, and the portions joined up to make a small under-sheet. If it is hopeless even to do this, the sheet should be folded up and put away for mending purposes.
It is an excellent rule to keep a special cupboard, or a large shelf, for all mending materials. Old linen should seldom be thrown away, even when it seems to be altogether beyond using. Of course, if for nothing else, it is invaluable in the case of accidents, and small, sound strips can often be cut out to unravel for darning threads.
By way of ensuring as much as possible against the effects of wear, the linen-cupboard proper should be arranged so that the articles are used strictly in rotation. Every week, when the things return from the laundry, those last used should be inserted at the bottom instead of at the top of their respective piles. Then they will have, as it were, a "rest," it probably being many weeks before they are taken out again.
Fig. 6. The material inserted into the hem and the frayed edges neatly darned down
If linen is very badly torn, perhaps from some mishap, it is sometimes wiser to mend it before it is properly laundered. Before attending to the damage, the linen may be gently slipped through boiling water and rough-dried indoors, so that the tear may not suffer further harm from being buffeted by the wind, when hung out on the line to dry.