Shannon Fennell's Blog

My life, art, travel, make-up, cooking and the occasional rant!

It ain’t pretty, but darn it… I darned it!

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They don’t make things like they used to – really, I mean it, “they” don’t. And most people don’t take the time to fix or repair their belongings anymore either. If something breaks or tears it is tossed.

I admit to sometimes replacing things that broke – like multiple VHS VCRs over the years… when it costs less to buy a new one than to get the old one fixed, that is simple economics. The beta machine I bought survived for over 20 years, to be donated on while still functional – that was a well-made machine.

With things like clothing, how many people take the time to repair items? Themselves?

I remember I once fixed a hem on a skirt that had completely come undone during a work day – I used masking tape to put it back in place. It was a heavy polyester so the tape stuck to it well.  Then I forgot about it.   The amazing thing was that tape held for years! Through the washer and dryer multiple times too. I did eventually notice and redid the hem properly – before donating the skirt in one of our regular closet culls.

Hand-me-downs were normal for clothes, toys, furniture… pretty much anything including cars, when I was growing up. Family, friends, neighbours, anyone you knew would pass along things they no longer needed to you if had a need. Like baby clothes if you were expecting, or furniture if you had moved, toys for the kids to be passed along, dishwashers when they got a new one, a microwave, etc. Before anyone got rid of anything or donated to charity, they would check with the people they knew to see if anyone needed or wanted it.

My mom made most of our clothing, right through high school. And she would fix hems, repair tears, and convert old clothing into something new. There were four of us to keep clothed and not a lot of money, so things made there way through the family.

I remember repairing a greatly loved flannel shirt myself. It was teal and yellow plaid and it was so comfortable. But it was wearing out. Mom actually wanted to toss it – she had repaired it multiple times, and refused to anymore. So I started to mend over her mending. It had up to four layers of patches and mending in spots. I actually don’t remember if it completely disintegrated or mom removed it, but it did eventually vanish.

I routinely fix hems and seams. A lot of clothing that is available now is poorly made and you wear it once and discover holes in seams, or unravelling hems, or other flaws that need fixing. Securing buttons is a big one on new clothes – so many seem to be hanging by a single thread.

Case in point – last week I pulled a pair of heavy winter socks out of my drawer. I had not worn this particular pair yet, even though I’d had them for a couple years.

When I took them off I realized that the heel “patch” had completely separated from the body of the sock along the bottom – grey sock with green toes and heel. The weave had completely separated, if indeed, it had actually been attached at all.

I didn’t want to toss them as they are new and warm, and I’m on a budget. So decided I would darn them.

I’ve done it before but my hands are not what they used to be, neither is my eyesight.

Darning isn’t rocket surgery but being able to see helps. Even though I probably had dark green yarn, I used up some scrap yarn and floss I had sitting around from a project I finished a couple of weeks ago.  As it was different colours I was able to see what I was doing… sort of.

I didn’t take photo before I started repairing them as I hadn’t thought about posting the process, but you can see my fingers through the hole in the heel after I’d started.

How darning works is that you go through the loops of the weave that is still solid all one way across the hole, then, you go across anchoring the same way and weaving your thread through those first strands, to fill in the gap in the fabric or to pull it back together.  At least that’s how I do it. It isn’t hard BUT is fussy.

In the old days they had hard balls of bone, ceramic or glass that they would put in the heels of socks to shape them and make it easier to pass the needles through without poking yourself. I really could have used one. An old incandescent light bulb would have worked too, but none to be found around here. I tried stuffing a jar and a couple other things in there, but nothing fit or was the right shape, so I just stretched it out with my hand.

I don’t claim to be an expert and I’m sure there are probably neater ways to do this, but it worked.

Looking at these photos I feel like I sewed Ed the Sock’s mouth shut!

I turned it inside out to check and it looks not too bad. Hole is gone and mostly closed up. Ideally I should probably have pulled the two sides completely flush together, but there appeared to be a gap in the heel area – which is part of the reason I suspect the hole was there all along.

I now have a functional pair of socks again – Darn it!

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