Darning - Methods Applicable to Different Materials - When to Patch - How to Put on a Patch Various Ways of Sewing Linen Buttons

To Darn a Small Hole

For the repair of small holes darning is better than a patch.

All worn and damaged material must first be cut away, and the edges of the hole left even on all sides, the shape naturally depending upon the nature of the hole.

The darn should be made half an inch larger than the hole on all sides, in order to strengthen the material encircling it, and, as in darning a thin place, the edges of the darn should not be straight.

Work the darn the wrong side, with the first set of threads on the selvedge way of the material.

Commence at the left-hand side by making a row of stitches on the fabric, lifting one or two threads and missing one or two alternately, according to the thickness of the material. Then work back again, leaving a loop to begin with, and this time picking up the threads which were missed in the first row.

When the hole is reached, carry the cotton straight across it, take up alternate threads a little way beyond, and continue working backwards and forwards until the same number of threads cross the hole as were taken away. Be careful to avoid any straining of the threads, or a puckered appearance will be the result.

When the warp, or lengthway, threads are complete, the work should be turned and the weft, or cross, threads put in. Cross the darn in the same way, lifting up and missing threads as before, and filling the whole with an even and close lattice-work of stitches. The cross threads do not require to extend so far as the weft threads; in fact, it is not necessary to cross more than the threads rilling the hole. To go beyond would be liable to make the material too thick. A piece of strong paper or thin card may be placed under the hole on the right side while the work is being done, to keep the material firm and prevent dragging.

A Cross-cut Darn

This is generally caused by some sharp instrument, a knife or machinery, cutting the damask. It is rather more difficult to darn than an ordinary tear, which goes with the thread, because the threads are crosswise.

Commence on the wrong side of the material, by passing the needle and cotton under and over the edges of the cut alternately and making them almost meet. These stitches must not be removed when the darn in finished.

Then darn across in the usual way on the lines of the thread of the material and not across the line of the tear, or the darn will lie crosswise, and the material will pucker. A finer thread than that of which the material is composed must be used. The stitches ought to extend considerably beyond the cut and be brought to a point on the four sides.

Only a square in the middle need be crossed, sufficiently large to cover the rent and to keep the hole from gaping when the material is pulled.

Damask Darning

Real damask darning is an art which requires an unlimited amount of patience as well as very good eyesight.

In place of making a simple lattice-work of stitches across the hole, the weaving of the pattern is copied. The lengthway threads are put in close together as in any simple darn, and it is the cross threads, which are interlaced through in such a way as to form a pattern. The number of threads lifted and missed will depend upon the web to be imitated, and will possibly vary in each row.

The woven design should, therefore, be carefully examined through a strong magni-fying-glass.

This kind of darning, when it is required, is usually done by an expert, who gains her livelihood by the work, as very few women have the time to acquire the art in the course of the ordinary household mending.


A patch is required when the hole is too large, or the material too worn, to permit of darning. A patch is, in many instances, to be preferred to a darn, unless the hole is very small, as it wears better and looks neater.

In this method of mending the worn out or torn part of the material is replaced by an entirely fresh piece.

The first point to attend to in patching is to obtain material which will match the original in texture and quality. Material that is not quite new is preferable, and good, sound pieces of the same stuff as the article to be patched should be used. To patch old material with that which is much stronger is not thrifty, as the strain of wear is sure to be too great for the old fabric, and will cause it to give way round the patch. If new material has to be resorted to, it should be washed before being used, to remove any starch or dressing.

The second point in good patching is the careful fixing of the new piece and the removal of the old part. The stitches required are very simple - i.e., sewing and felling - but the difficulty lies in the handling, so as to obtain nicety of finish and absence of pucker.

Fixing The Patch

The patch should be half an inch larger on all sides than the hole or worn piece it is to cover, and of a shape to correspond. The threads of the patch must run the same way as the threads of the material being mended, and this should be considered before preparing the piece.

It is easy to find out which is the selvedge way of the material even when the selvedge is not there, as it is always the side where the material stretches least. The piece for the patch must be torn by the thread, and then stretched both ways to make it perfectly straight, and also to prevent it sagging from subsequent stretching.

Make a crease across each way of the patch and across each way of the worn part of the material, so as to find the centre of each, and be particular to make the creases even with the thread of the material.

Turn down the edges of the patch to a depth of a quarter of an inch all round. Make the corners very square, and give them an extra pressing to get them flat.