Today on the blog we revisit some of the comments we’ve received from our community over the past couple of weeks in response to our latest issue of Selvedge, Issue 102 Mend. It’s clear that many of our followers have fond memories of relatives darning stockings and socks, and many more who continue to use the techniques passed down generations to mend and repair items of clothing today. We were inspired to read all your comments and hope you are inspired to mend too.
Mary Etta Randolph
Yes, I have darned stockings, or woolen socks, as you might call them. My Great Grandmother taught my Mother, who taught me. My Mother and Father grew up during the Great Depression and both lived a very frugal lifestyle and passed it down to us. There is a method to darning, you actually use a darning needle and good quality cotton thread. We used to buy it at Woolworths, I still have some in my sewing basket. Darning is actually a method of weaving. Tights and socks develop holes in them and sometimes need to be darned. You can even use a lightbulb to help frame the clothing item to be mended. It helps to start by straight stitching a border around the edges of the hole. Then you create a small loom and stitch in and out, like a lattice crust pie, and actually create a hand made cloth patch for the hole. It is recommended to use the same color thread as the object. Black is the most common. It is easier to show someone how to darn socks than to explain it to them. Darning and sewing and mending save a ton of money. New clothes are expensive.
I’ve been fascinated by darning for decades. I mend my favorite handknit socks, and darn my vintage table linens regularly. I patch quilts and blankets, and invisible darn woven woolens. So now I’m in style?
I wonder if the term, "Darn it!", comes from darning socks, or in this case, stockings.
I remember darning tights in the late 70s with one of my own hairs as a thread.
What exactly are we being told here? Unless you were fabulously wealthy everyone would have darned and mended everything they owned even the well off would have cherished their clothing before passing it on. Being able to keep their clothes intact was a point of pride not shame and an example people desperately need to follow. Yes we still mended our stockings in the 60’s. I recognise the cobbling and sealing with clear nail varnish!!
The richest girls at my secondary school had those new-fangled tights. Most of us, me included, wore stockings (thick ones). Mine weren’t even new - Mum gave me hers after she’d worn out their newness, plus I got some as hand-me-downs from one of her friends! By the time I got them, they were mostly not worth darning when they went into holes. I cobbled any holes - still do!
I'm in my 50s, and I've knit and darned both socks and stockings, some from my handspun, and some as historical recreations. I was taught to darn by my grandmother, who was taught by her grandmother, using a wooden sock egg. Bless the grandmothers, for they give a darn.