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 🐰🕳️

Why do darning – a throw back

I continue with my very loose series called „My darning life“ (working title). I started with the post Darning, (my) a starting point. Today it’s some background stuff and a throw back.

A timeline: How did it start?

In fact, I wrote about the reasons in previous posts, long before I knew I was going to write this series. The first post on the blog about darning was About the sock siblings and darning and kind of prosaic (…at least I tried). It starts with beloved socks of mine having a hole at the heel and me being sad. From here on I quote from the post (english translation):

One day, the owner [me] was in a sewing café and heard for the first time about an activity called „stopfen" (eng: darning). They said it was a way to close holes. But not by pulling the edges together and sewing them. No – new fabric will be created at the spot where once there was a hole. The owner was confused and could not imagine such an activity. Creating new fabric where there is nothing?

How the story continued is no longer known. What is known is that the owner followed an Instagram account that focused on repairing and preserving garments and that’s how she learned about the word „mending“. The possibilities fascinated her.

And at some point, the sock pair owner understood: the technique she saw on the Instagram account was called "stopfen" in German.


  • How does the technique of darning work at all?
  • What materials do I need?
  • Who can explain me how to darn?

While there are plenty video tutorials for other handicrafts like knitting or crocheting, it was not so easy for darning. I hardly found any video tutorials at that time (who knows what keywords I used to search; I probably only used the German keyword which was not so fruitful) and if I did, they were not satisfactory. Not much showed up in my trusted search engine either. In the end I found books on the subject and then ordered one: Modern Mending by Erin Lewis-Fitzgerald [1]. Even though I mainly just flipped through it since then and don’t work with it that much (because I only use two techniques anyway), it was an anchor for me. Being led by someone who has been working on the subject for a long time and has a clue.

With this little smorgasbord of information, I darned the first socks. And then I continued. When I’m darning, I get into a really strong pull and want to move forward. I’ve never experienced that with any other handicraft. In contrast, sometimes several months lie between two darning pieces.

Fascination about this fiddly work?

And now please answer the question: What does fascinate me so much about this fiddly work (which it is)??

This question is answered by the following quote from my other blogpost Back! with a repaired piece of work

Repairing culture is something I’m really fascinated by, in every way and I also think that repairing is healing. Not only for the piece to be repaired but also for myself. It’s like this feeling when you create something with your own hands and feet.

But on top, there’s this feeling of taking away the pain because you cared about the spot that has hurt.

And that is how the topic self-efficacy comes into play again. Often, it’s not even beloved clothes of mine that get darned/repaired. It’s honestly this fact of being able to repair something and make it usable again that makes me feel great. To learn a skill and then actually use it. The most impressive thing is to vizualise this skill by taking before/after photos. This is also tip 3 from the book mentioned above. The issue of sustainability also plays a role because I don’t think it would be okay for me to dispose a garment because of a hole without having tried to find a solution. And these two points lead more or less to the reason why I’m blogging about this - not only for me but also for you: sharing is caring. Sharing of: Feeling of self-efficacy; and also the knowledge to repair broken clothes.


And what happened next?

Thanks to Instagram’s algorithm, it was enough to find one account on that topic. After that, a whole world opened up to me like magic and many posts and corresponding accounts showed up. Other media forms also discuss this topic but not nearly as well as Instagram does as a photo platform in my opinion; in this respect, Instagram is currently my favourite medium on this topic.

Finally (I won’t end the post without) two Instagram accounts as a recommendation to start with:

If you’re interested in more content, just click yourself through their Instagram 🙂

And the book I mentioned:

[1] „Modern Mending“ by Erin Lewis-Fitgerald, available in Australian and UK/US editions.

Darning, (my) a starting point

I remember how difficult it was for me to find more information on the topic „darning“ once I decided to check it out. A lot has happened since then and in addition to the resources I found, a lot of thoughts have gathered on that topic – in the narrower and broader sense. I would like to use the blog as an opportunity and possibility to reveal these thoughts 🙂

Once, when I told someone about darning being one of my interests, he replied:

„You can fix something so there’s no bump and you can’t feel it?!“

Now that was very loosely quoted but it represents the beauty of darning in my opinion: I’m repairing a hole (hole = fabric is missing) but instead of gathering up the remaining fabric close to the hole and sewing it, new fabric is created. Whuaaaaat?!?! 😀

One person who shows you very nicely how this works is Sarah from the YouTube channel (and Instagram channel of the same name) Ein Koffer voll Wolle. I especially like her videos on the darning technique duplicate stitch. Though, I started with weave darning (that’s the literal translation of the german term, not sure if this is the english term as well) at that time and also think that this technique is more universal - that’s why I link you to her video on this darning technique right here. Just watch it (it’s 13 min) and dive in the way how a hole disappears „just like that“. Okay, it’s not just like that but it’s simple nonetheless. And it’s so fascinating!

The first post about darning shows the technique weave darning. (altes Leben = old life; neues Leben = new life)

In general, I’m more interested in showing the network/community on the topic of darning on the blog and less/not at all am I interested in creating tutorials by myself. As I mentioned, I have found a few resources in the meantime that I are highly recommendable. On the one hand, it will be about making darning and darning people (more) visible – maybe I will create a small link list eventually. On the other hand I hope that by dealing with this topic for the blog and preparing the posts, I will also expand the network for myself and immerse myself more. In between, there will be some thoughts on a meta-level (time?) and I will also get over to related topics (fixing in general).

There will be a bit more background blah blah from me in a later post. I wanted to do a short entry today. Did I succeed doing that? 😛