My repair date: 3.66 pieces

In March I announced my repair date (by the way, the date was postponed several times 😆). I wanted to make things cosy for my repair date, including the documentation work. On the one hand, this meant that the atmosphere for the repair date itself should be relaxed, on the other hand, taking the photos shouldn't feel toooo much like work. Based on this, I drew up a checklist of things I could prepare so that I could concentrate on the repairs on the day of doing the repairs. Preparation included preparing something for my ears (podcast list), something for thirst (a pot of tea) and something for hunger (pretzel sticks). The clothes had already been picked out in advance, so I knew which broken parts awaited me and was all the more excited. And then, on one of the many May bank holidays, the time had come!

Yield: 3.66 pieces repaired.

Details of the yield follows now. Click on the photos to enlarge them.

Piece 1: black skirt

The seam connecting the zip and the skirt came went to pieces. To prevent it from getting worse, I wanted to sew the zip back on properly. I did this with the so-called slip stitch (also called mattress stitch, ladder stitch; a great stitch because the thread "disappears" and the seam is therefore "invisible"). It went very quickly, max. 10 minutes.

Before, outside.
Before, inside.
After, outside.
After, inside.

Piece 2: dusky pink top with flower print

I had a tear in the seam on the right-hand side where the front and back are joined. 1 cm x 0.5 cm. I don't like these areas at all because the proximity to the seam always overwhelms me. I had actually already started the repair during a repair workshop at Fashion Revolution Week in April (organized by Fashion Revolution Germany / Frankfurt) and had used the weaving method.

I continued darning during my repair date. I am so happy about the colour similarity. In this case it was not darning thread I used, but embroidery thread (1 of 6 threads) and I had the thread from the repertoire of the workshop leader (Ekaterina Haak, whom I have mentioned elsewhere). The darned area is actually visible but if it's the right angle, the darned area blends in well with the garment.

WIP (almost done).
After (well hidden).

Piece 3: grey sports shorts

That was the most exciting repair of the day.

The trousers have a waistband cord but actually, there are two cords sewn into the centre in the back. The right-sided ripped somewhere in the middle. To make the trousers somehow usable again, I had used some yarn to lengthen the right-sided waistband. It looked too odd to me and ended up in the as-long-as-you-look-like-this-I-don't-wear-you pile.

For the repair, I rummaged around to see if I had anything that looked similar to the cord and found an old shoelace, half of which had been torn off as well. Ideal!

So I took off the yarn (pink) and then sewed the two loose ends of the cords (waistband cord on trousers and shoelaces) together with lots of stitches. Then I cut off the loose, frayed ends and melted them with a lighter. This left the ends clean and minimized the likelihood of it coming undone again. The join disappears into the waistband anyway + I have a two-coloured waistband cord now. Pretty cool 😀

Before, connecting point.
WIP, sewing on the new cord.
After, connecting point (working side).
After, connecting point (working side).
After, connecting point (clean side).

Piece 4: black tank top

The top had three small holes on the back. To close these, I tried scotch darning for the first time. It's so much fun! You can work your way and see how the hole gets smaller and smaller.

Even though it is black yarn, you can still see the darned area quite well. This was not invisible mending. I wonder if it would have looked more invisible with the weaving method? In retrospect, I thought it would have been funnier in colour.

I only managed 2 of 3 holes that day, that's where this 0.66 comes from 😀

The third hole was darned by me in the morning a few days later. On the day of my repair date, I found one hole on the front side (this destroys all my calculation for the yield) ... this hole was darned in the meantime, too 😁

Before, back side.
Before, back side, hole 2 and 3.
WIP (hole 1 ... one hole = loads small holes ...)
After, back side.
Nachher, Rückseite, Loch 1.
After, back side, hole 2 (open) and hole 3 (darned).

As always, I am amazed about how long a repair takes compared to how long a garment is spurned because of its flaw. In the extreme case, it is 10 minutes versus X years. A bit crazy!

Will I learn from this awareness and tackle the repairs more quickly in the future?
Me: 🤷🏻‍♀️

This post is part of the series <Mein stopfendes Leben>.

The patterned blouse and the almost-chameleon | study logbook darning

This is how it goes with broken clothes: As small as the hole may be, it may be hidden at its best and no one would ever look at it anyway - but once I have seen it, it's the only thing I will see of this clothing item. If I wore it out, no one would notice the flaw. But I wouldn't really care what the others don't see. The hole is the only thing I see.

That's what happened to the patterned blouse.

On the right side, at the seam where the front and back are joined together, quite far down and close to the hem, a tear had crept in. This looked like a hole at a bad angle. Accordingly, the patterned blouse was placed on the repair pile. In preparation for the trip last autumn, I went through my clothes - even the ones that were on the repair pile. And I actually picked three items for the trip from that pile. It was probably only a few weeks until the day of departure. And the clothes had been on the pile for two years at least and, in the spirit of the "out of sight, out of mind" principle, their existence had been completely forgotten in the meantime. So how likely was it that these three items would make it back to life?

The preparation phase

Ich wollte das Muster mehr oder weniger nachbilden, also unsichtbar stopfen. Entsprechend mit weißem Garn erst mal die Fläche wiederherstellen, dann mit rotem Garn irgendwie das Muster nachmachen. Ohne wäre der dann pure white blob would have been too obvious for me amidst of the whole pattern.

The implemenation phase

Für die weiße Fläche habe ich die Webstopfmethode genutzt. An einer Naht zu arbeiten ist nicht so angenehm wie auf einer reinen Fläche, v.a. weil sich das Loch/Riss zu beiden Seiten erstreckte. Der Weißton meines Garns ist zu warm, aber sei‘s drum. Mit rotem Garn habe ich dann gestickt, und habe mich an den Formen auf der Bluse orientiert, so Mini-Blätter. Ich habe wenig Stickerfahrung und habe das entsprechend eher Freestyle gemacht.

The photo stamps tell me that it took about 1.5 hours in one day.

The finalization phase

It's not a completely invisible repair but I still think it was successful and the embroidery part was something new to me. I didn't do a super clean job but in the end the hole is gone and the blouse is wearable again. The blouse was allowed to travel with me. Mission completed! 

Thoughts during the process

What amazes me again and again: the working time and the waiting time are in stark contrast to each other. It's almost ridiculous.

The clothes had been on the repair pile for at least two years. This repair took me 1.5 hours - this is about the length of a feature film. If I had invested this time sometime earlier - and it is a foreseeable time - then the blouse would have become part of my wardrobe again much sooner with a reasonable expenditure of energy.

Sicherlich, in ebendieser Zeit habe ich einiges gelernt und bin selbstsicherer geworden was die Methoden angeht. Aber oft geht es erst mal darum, den Makel irgendwie mal angefasst zu haben und um den Versuch es zu reparieren. Das ist das, was ich von dieser und anderen Reparaturen mitnehme: einfach mal dransetzen und machen!

(Spoiler: I managed to get all three items back in shape and ready for the trip!)

Darning - Some technical aspects

This post is part of the series „My darning life" (the not really nice-sounding working title but it doesn't get any better than this).

Today it's all about technical know-how.

What materials do I need?

I keep it simple: a piece of fabric with an (almost) hole; a needle; yarn; a solid base to work on, e.g., a darning mushroom or drinking glass (I've also used a loo roll before).

Of course there are subtleties and differences in the yarn, the needle and the darning aid. But I want to focus on getting you started quickly, learning by doings will do the rest.

I don't actually have that much experience myself, I usually have similar problems that I solve by using two different techniques. So my experience is not really diverse.

But in the end it comes down to repairing something and getting it out of the "I don't use it because the hole bothers me" pile.

In total, I would say that the material costs are very manageable: the most expensive thing is probably the darning egg/mushroom, the other things are quite cheap to buy. And once you have them, you'll have them for a while. Or you already have one or two things at home anyway.

Darning thread with a price tag in a well-stocked supermarket.

Is it difficult?

It is some tinker work with needle and yarn. But unlike other handicrafts such as knitting or crocheting, the movements are easy to learn if you've already had a sewing needle and fabric in your hand.

I found it more difficult to find instructions and information. That's what this post is for. I'll provide you a few keywords and give you a few further links, hoping that you'll get a picture of darning and feel like getting started as quickly as possible.

Here's a quote from the Schiesser company that I think is very apt: "If you're darning a sock for the first time, we have some reassuring news for you: you can't go wrong. After all, it's an attempt to save the sock - at least it's better than throwing it in the bin straight away." (The quote is translated from the german website as well.)

It's trial and error but I find that the learning curve is quite steep in the beginning.

So with the first few darning pieces you'll already get a good feel for the handicraft and quickly learn what works and what doesn't. So don't start with your favourite piece of clothing :D

Darning mushroom and darning egg

Search terms for the internet

In German I use the word "darning" but this misleads me much more often since it also has another meaning than the handicraft. Alternatives are "stopfen Handarbeit“ oder „stopfen Löcher.

In English it's much clearer, either enter "darning" or "mending". (not searched for these terms by myself though)

You will generally find more in English than in German, but that shouldn't stop you. On the one hand, there are now some great German-language posts, on the other hand, a lot of things work via pictures and videos + translation tools.

weave darning

If I assume that you have no experience at all, then I recommend weave darning first. This was also the first method I learnt. It is definitely functional (covers the hole quite effectively) and in my opinion also quite universal. With a little practice and preparation, it becomes really beautiful, but more on that later.

As the name indicates, weave darning is actually weaving. Here is a sketch of the technique: LINK | Pinterest image

Especially when it comes to weave darning, I usually find texts so-so. Here is one that I find quite good and helpful though:

Videos are much better for learning. I've posted the following video from Ein Koffer voll Wolle before, I think it's really good, so here it is again

Another video - in english

Visible Mending

For better visualisation, the instructions often use different colours than the colour of the garment to be repaired. In fact, some people do this very deliberately and really emphasise the darned area. This is called "Visible Mending

The most fun thing to do with visible mending is to scroll through Instagram and Pinterest.

I know of these Instagram accounts. Use the platforms' algorithm to get more ideas:

  • @visible_creative_mending (english)
  • @Milli_and_the_bee (german, english)
  • @Ekaterinahaak (german, english)
  • @Slowstitchclub (english)
  • @Reparierenistliebe (german)

Invisible Mending

In contrast to visible mending, there is also "Invisible Mending". This means darning in such a way that you cannot see that your cloth was darned and the repair fits almost perfectly into the garment.

Ultimately, in/visible mending is the result of the repair - how the result is achieved can vary greatly. Some techniques are suitable for both, some more/only for visible mending, others more/only for invisible mending.

  • @Alexandrabrinck (english) – very nice invisible mending pieces

Other techniques

Keywords, if you fancy more:

  • duplicate stitch. A darning technique that I love because it imitates knitting stitches and therefore fits perfectly into the stitch pattern aka invisible mending, provided you have a very similar/same yarn at hand.
  • Scotch Darning / .A darning technique that I haven't tried yet. It covers the entire surface, is functional and universal - similar to the weave darning technique. And at second glance, it looks very feasible.
  • Embroidery. Used as a visible mending technique. There are so many beautiful ideas! But you need a bit of know-how with embroidery stitches to implement the ideas well and also a bit more equipment: thread colours are more important here because the ideas are more concrete

Media: Books

There are several books on the market by now which is a very nice evolvement. Books often show several techniques and application examples in one media and are beautifully illustrated, which is an advantage of books. Leafing through them is quick and makes you want to get started. Therefore, I categorise books between Instagram, where you mainly get pictures and ideas, and videos that show you technically how to achieve a result.

Back then, I first looked for books on Amazon (same search terms as above) and wrote down a few titles. Then I went to the bookshop and ordered the books to look through, as preferences in books vary.

My first book was the german edition of „Modern Mending“ by Erin Lewis-Fitgerald, available in Australian and UK/US editions.

Media: Pinterest

Actually THE tool to really fall into a rabbit hole. I just found myself in exact that hole when I clicked on the Pinterest link above. Many more suggestions are displayed (at least for me) immediately which make me want to check out even more!

With this, I'm reaching the end of this post. Now I hope you will enjoy exploring and maybe this topic will become a little Rabbit Hole for you, too - at least I'll disappear into 🐰🕳️