Does a Hole Spell the End?

It always makes me sad when my clothes develop little holes in them, since I know how fast those teeny-tiny holes can grow into unseemly, gaping ones. And it always seems that the most comfortable clothes wear out first.

But that doesn’t have to happen! Instead of throwing away your favorite shirt or regulating it to the stay-at-home clothes pile at the back of your closet, you can quickly and simply solve the problem by darning the hole.

What is darning, you say? Well, it’s not just an exclamation, it’s a time honored method of mending small holes with a needle and thread, a real wardrobe saver.

Darning is easiest on holes less than an inch in diameter. To darn a hole, you’ll need:

  • the article with a hole
  • a needle, preferably with a blunt tip
  • thread, that’s similar in weight to the fabric which you’ll be using. I’ve found mercantile crochet cotton to work well on thicker fabrics like denim or thick socks, and standard sewing thread on t-shirt cotton and other lightweight fabrics.
  • scissors or snips. It’s handy to have a little pair of scissors or snips on hand for cutting threads, so your fabric-cutting scissors don’t become dull.

First, thread your needle with about 1-2 feet of thread, depending on the size of the hole. There’s no need to knot the thread. Not knotting it keeps the darn flat, and avoids irritating bumps on the inside of your clothes.

Keeping a close eye on the tail of the thread so you don’t pull it through, sew a running stitch in an outside circle around the hole. This stitched circle should be close to the hole, but in fabric that hasn’t frayed or worn yet.

Next, you’ll lay down the warp. You do this by sewing a row of parallel threads running across the hole. Tension is important here. If these threads are too tight, they’ll pucker the fabric. If they’re too loose, the fabric will sag. Don’t worry if you mess up, though, it doesn’t have to be absolutely perfect. It’s beautiful because it’s functional.

This last step is the most fun. It’s called the weft or the woof, depending on where you live. This is a very basic weaving technique. You run another set of threads parallel to each other, and perpendicular to the warp threads from the last step. As you sew the weft, you will go under the first warp thread, over the second, under again, and so on. When you reach the other side, you’ll turn around and come back. This time, any threads you went under, you’ll go over now, like a checkerboard.

You’ll finish up by tucking the end of the thread into the darn and trimming both loose ends close to the fabric.

This is one of my early darns. I used white for the warp and sparkly blue for the weft. It’s a little loose, I’d sew it tighter if I was to redo it,  but it works!

Written by Lady M

Lady Marigold Fairfax, dubbed Lady M by society columnist G. M. Parker, regularly sets the London social scene abuzz with her cutting edge fashions. What no one knows is that she creates all her masterpieces at home in her costumery studio, with the help of her Romani seamstress, Zelda.

W R I T E   T O   L A D Y   M

Have a fashion question or a fabulous and frugal tip you’d like her to share in this column?
You can email Lady M directly at

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1 Comment

  1. Joy

    Lady M’s fashion column is delightful! The variety, scope and practicality keep me reading, and the volume of advice already available on release day make your enthusiasm for A Beautiful Disguise infectious. Well done!


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